Here’s a riddle for you: What is the one thing that we spend that we can never earn back? … The answer is: Time. We can always earn more money or acquire more stuff, but we can never get more time than what the Lord has allotted for us. Money comes and goes; time just goes.
Last summer I had the privilege of being a part of a team that went to Burundi, Africa to work with a community to help them build homes for their families. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life thus far. What struck me deeply, though, is what the people of Burundi were most thankful for. Everywhere we went, people would say things like, “It means so much that you came here to be with us.” We were helping to build shelters for them and their families, and they were thanking us for something totally different. They were thanking us for our time. Everything else was a bonus. They understood much better than we do that time is precious. The fact that we would fly 3,000 miles and take 3 weeks away from our jobs and the rest of our family in Canada just to be with our family from Burundi… that was the point for them. And that’s not to pat ourselves on the back for doing a nice thing for these people; they were probably more of a blessing to us than we could ever be to them. Admittedly, I had been missing the point slightly before that.
In Psalm 90:12, David said, “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Knowing that your days are numbered, and not in a pessimistic, unhealthy kind of way, is a good thing. It makes you look more deeply into what you’re doing.
I’ve heard it said many times that the way we steward our finances is a compass. It reflects our priorities. So how much more a resource that can never be replaced?
Be intentional with how you spend your time. Budget it. Most people hate that ‘B’ word! When it comes to money, a budget is simply telling your money where it’s going to go before it gets there and making sure it goes where you want it to. Otherwise you’re going to wonder every month where all your money went and you’ll have no clue whatsoever (other than knowing that it’s not in your pocket anymore). When it comes to your time, it’s the same principle. In a given week, how much time are you spending in each area of your life? It’s a wonderful exercise to write it out and see where all of the 168 hours in your week are going. You’ll definitely see some areas where you should be spending more time and others where you know you should be spending less.
When you ask people what their priorities are, most of the time they’ll say: God, my family, my music…. and other sentimental stuff like that. But when it comes down to it, are we putting our money (or in this case our time) where our mouth is? If you’re not actually putting time and energy into what you say your priorities are, then they’re not your priorities. You want them to be your priorities, which is a noble goal, but they’re not. When you think about your life and what you want to be remembered for, your time allocation should directly reflect those pursuits. Otherwise, you can spend your whole life climbing up a ladder only to realize when you get to the top that it was up against the wrong building the entire time.
Invest your time wisely and you will reap a life of impact and meaning. One of the areas we tend to neglect the most is ourselves. Spend time with yourself; invest time in you. Make sure you’re taking time to sharpen your mind through constant learning; your Spirit through reading the Word, praying, and meditating; your heart by being around people who encourage you and build you up; and your body by getting regular exercise and proper nutrition. Invest in you. Like I wrote in the blog from two weeks ago, put your own oxygen mask on first: “Oxygen” (click here to read).
Time is a precious gift. Be conscious about who or what you’re giving it to. And make sure you take the time to appreciate the people who are choosing to invest that amazing resource by making time for you because that’s not a small thing.