Recently as I was "tooling" down the road in my car, rushing
to my most recent appointment, a sign by the side of the highway caught
my eye: " TIME IS MONEY!" it boldly announced. "Right!" I thought to myself;
and that's why I'm driving over the speed limit, my nerves on edge, hassling
the traffic, fighting anxiety attacks, hoping I would make it to my meeting
on time. As I thought about it, I realized I was rushing to a meeting
that was actually a meeting that was a result of a previous meeting, that
had been generated out of an initial meeting about "time saving."
We were now entangled in the third layer of meetings that hadn't saved time,
but rather was demanding more of the commodity we were trying to save. In
economic terms, this was costing us. In my "mind's eye" I saw myself in
the proverbial rat race, running on the cyclical tread mill with no visible
We were now sitting dead in the traffic. Horns were blowing, and people
all around me looked as frantic as I felt. Maybe we were all going to
the same meeting! The guy in the car next to me was yelling into his car
phone. A relatively recent development in technology that was supposed
to help expedite matters more efficiently and thereby "save time."
Right! Just at the moment I was pondering that thought, some guy in a
business suit whizzed by on the shoulder of the road on his Yamaha motorcycle.
He was going to make his meeting on time. I began to consider
the pros and cons of buying a Yamaha.
With time to think, I began to muse on the basic premise of that billboard's
philosophy: "Time is money." To a certain degree that was true.
Certainly the majority of people in our world today are driven by that
motive. We were the most prosperous society in the history of the human
race; but what had we lost in the process of gaining? I didn't wonder
if we weren't like the man in the proverb who had exchanged his soul for
the world. As writer Stephen Covey recently asked, "How many people on
their deathbed wish they'd spent more time at the office?" The
majority of us had more toys, but were we really better off? I reflected
on the fact that Jackie Kennedy hadn't taken one smidgen of Camelot with
her. She left it all behind for everyone else to bid on. The fact is we
won't be any more successful than she was in carting all that stuff off
the planet when our turn comes to depart this terra firma.
As I looked at the clock on my dashboard, I realized I wasn't going to
make the meeting on time. I didn't have a car phone, nor was I
sure I wanted one. There had to be some time just to get away,
even if it was a traffic jam. So I resigned myself to my circumstances,
knowing that blowing a blood vessel was not going to move this grid lock.
"That was it," I declared to myself, almost saying it out loud. "Time
was not money; time was life." It was Benjamin Franklin
who said: "Do you value life? Then waste not time, for that is
the stuff of which life is made." As I sat immobile on the Interstate
watching my life ebb away, I mentally followed that tributary of thought
Fighting Father Time
A recent article crossed my desk pertaining to the fact that the
" baby boomers" were now turning fifty. The "boomers" were that group
of people, approximately 78 million strong, that were born between l946
and 1964. A half a century young as they see it. They are not taking age
sitting down in their rocking chairs; they are fighting back. They virtually
run to health clubs, stop smoking, go on diets, drink Evian water, get
their faces lifted, as well as other parts of their anatomy, dye their
hair and are fitted with new dentures that will outlast their reconstructed
bodies. The life expectancy of this, the largest cohort in history, is
76. That's double what it was in 1900 when you could expect to die, on
average, by the age of 38. By the year 2025 this
crowd will be clogging the highways to such a degree, that our roads will
have to be redesigned to accommodate the 45 million seniors careening
around in their "baby boomer buggies," clinging to their hair pieces and
listening to the Beach Boys singing, "Goldies For Geriatrics.".
But what are they going to do with the extra time? And how is
this most precious of commodities being used now?
I am one of those people that got hooked on Day Timers about twenty years
ago. Next to my literal Bible, it became my bible of time management.
Every minute, hour, day, week, month and year can be documented. You can
even plan out your life up through the year 2001 with the planning calendar.
2001 used to just be the title to a movie, now it's an approaching reality.
Recently in perusing through my old Day Timers, I realized
I was looking at the journal of my existence, (at least on the surface)
divulging to me most tellingly how I have invested my life.
We allocate time to that which we deem to be most important. In
other words ... determining priorities. Reviewing my own personal journal
was revealing. Staring back at me was the cumulative log of events that
made up my life journey and how I had chosen to spend that most precious
commodity called TIME.
Of course each of us has our own priority list, whether conscious or unconscious; however the following is a general framework that you might measure your "time spent" by. For those aging baby boomers that used to sing along with the Rolling Stones, "Time Is On My Side," here's a reality test.
In itself this little list doesn't seem like much, however, as you break
it down we begin to see where time is (or should be) spent.
Work ( or school): The majority of our time is given here.
Usually it is the most disciplined part of our daily schedule as we are
accountable to a boss and a time clock. By necessity we must work
(unless you just hit the lottery) or we don't eat. The problem begins
when our work makes demands that begin to supersede the other responsibilities
in our lives.
Family: Of course this varies for married or single people. Obviously single people have more time to devote to work or personal pursuits, whereas the married individual is sharing their life with another. Tensions set in when time that was allocated to the spouse is "stolen" by work pursuits. Many husbands may never run off in an adulterous relationship with another woman, however, for many men the work becomes the mistress.
When the husband returns home after a 60 or 70 hour work week, the wife
gets the leftovers. A body with little life and no strength because he
gave it to strangers.
Then of course if there are children. Dad is often too tired for games,
and Mom may try to shield him from the kids and vice versa. Especially
if he is hungry, irritable, and tired. Someone is
liable to get hit. After all Dad gave at the office.
And when was the last time that the man and woman spent time
together, in their identity as a man and woman.? Not functionaries, in
the role of husband and wife, father and mother. Instead of McDonalds
and diapers, why not dinner by candlelight?
Friends: A time and place just to hang out and be real
without any performance or shop talk. Having good loyal friends and being
one, is a high and noble calling. As you move along in life these relationships
become more valuable. Of course this is the subject of a whole other discussion.
Sleeping: Fitful ? Restful? Or insomnia and too wound up to turn
your brain off. At the other end of the scale, escaping into sleep as
an avoidance mechanism as a result of being overwhelmed and unable to
cope. It's at this juncture some turn to booze, drugs and food, as a temporary
Eating: An enjoyable, leisurely meal, with friends and family.
Or "jammin" food down your throat with one hand, dialing your cellular
phone with the other as you drive down the interstate steering with your
elbow. You are incidentally only 44 pounds overweight, and the slight
dizziness is probably not related to high blood pressure, or the numbness
in your arm to a potential heart problem. It was the anchovies.
Personal Time for
Exercise: In front of the television set, jumping over the couch
when Dallas scored in the last thirty seconds trouncing the Washington
Rest: When you fell asleep in church the last time you
Vacation: Do you have any idea how much it costs to take a vacation?
Anyhow, I have too much work to do and when I try to relax I feel guilty.
When I finish this project I'll take some time off.
As was written many years ago: "What is your life? You are a vapor
that appears for a little while and disappears."
If that statement is true, and I believe that it is, what are we doing
with the time remaining to us? Of course none of us know how much
that is. Can we recover lost time? Like money, how do we invest
the time that remains to gain the best advantage and return?
First, we need to examine a basic premise. What or who determines
the time we have allotted to us on this planet? Going back to another
song from the Sixties, recorded by the Byrds, who in turn were quoting
from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes: "Turn, Turn, Turn, ... .to
everything there is a season. A time to be born, die, kill, heal,
weep, plant, uproot, laugh, mourn, dance," etc. In other words we have
been given an allotted amount of time to do everything in life
that needs to be done. In terms of life-time it was King Solomon
the author of Ecclesiastes, one of the most successful men who ever lived,
who discovered that the pursuit of the "big three," money, sex, and power,
was meaningless. At the end of his life he stated: "Here is my final
conclusion: fear God and obey His commandments, for this is the entire
duty of man . For God will judge us for everything we do, including every
hidden thing good or bad."
If we were to take that admonition seriously, how do you think it would
affect your lifestyle?
Back to a statement I made earlier: We allocate time to that which
we feel to be the most important. We concentrate on those things.
However if our life is centered on a person, then that is where
our focus is going to be. In addition if that person is the author
of time, we will adjust our priorities to accommodate Him. That's
exactly what Jesus Christ meant when He said that we should give our heavenly
Father first place in our lives. When we do we will discover that He will
take care of time and "stuff" because He knows that you have need
of them. With that you will no longer be anxious and driven about tomorrow,
because God will take care of tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.
With life adjusted from time to the timekeeper everything else begins to fall in place. It's similar to buttoning your shirt, if the first button is in the second hole, the whole shirt is out of kilter, rebutton the shirt starting with the first hole; the rest lines up. He will show you how to re-prioritize everything: "Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should."
Amazingly, the Lord will even help you restore the wasted years. "I
will repay for the years that the locust devoured ." Miraculously
He can take time that was misused and squandered and makes it work
for you: "We know that to those who love God, who are called according
to His plan, everything that happens
fits into a pattern for good."
On a daily basis in my personal life, I live this out by giving the first
part of my day to the Lord. For me that is getting up before the sun and
heading for my study. It is here that I talk to the Lord, in prayer, meditation
and occasional song. He responds to me through His Word, and impressions
of His will and purpose in my mind and spirit. It is a way of life that
I have practiced for years and is more essential to me than breakfast.
Actually for me it is breakfast. "I have not refused His commandments
but have enjoyed them more than my daily food;" because He
is my "daily bread."
HONK! HONK! "Hey buddy wanna' get with the program and get back in the race?!" It was the car behind me. The traffic was beginning to move again. Looking up, I thought about his question, and at the same time saw the off ramp sign that said "EXIT NOW!" I did, singing at the top of my lungs, "Turn! Turn! Turn! as I went.
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