“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
In the United States and in many countries around the world we have a fascination with the amount of hours we work each week. We see it as a badge of honor to work a 60, 70, or 80-hour week and might even brag to others about how tired we are from working so hard! Certainly we do not want to fall into the trap of laziness, and have a lack of motivation to do the labor that is assigned to us. But there is something to be said for using our time wisely and efficiently, for recognizing the importance of focusing on and making certain tasks a priority; the work that will bring the most reward for our time. This applies as much to our necessary labors from our jobs, to our hobbies and passions as well.
There is a popular concept known as the 80/20 rule. Basically it says that 80 percent of the results that we see come from 20 percent of the work that we do. That 20 percent of work we need to do might be the most difficult of the work on our list, but it will also bring the greatest reward. We often end up focusing on the other 80 percent of tasks we need to finish first, because, well, they are easier. We can quickly check them off of our list and move on to the next one and that makes us feel good, like we are accomplishing a lot!
That also means we are probably leaving the most difficult, and most important tasks for last. Perhaps they are not goals that we need to achieve today, tomorrow, or this week even, but they could have a greater impact down the road. They are most likely the things that will bring us much fulfillment over the years: our dreams, our visions of who we want to be, who we could become. What are the goals that you have had on your list for a while, even if that list is only at the back of your mind? What are the things that you wish you could finish, the things that would bring you a great sense of wholeness and purpose, but you keep setting aside when there are other, more pressing, urgent needs to attend to?
I know, I know, this is quite a lot like a motivational New Year’s resolution article for you to read. But I think that we all have goals we would love to do, and maybe never take the time to get them done. We tell ourselves if we have time we will take care of it at the end of the day, or at the end of the week. Like I said this can apply equally well to our jobs and careers, as it does to our hobbies and passions. It is also applicable to our familial relationships and amicable ones. We must make the best use of the time that is available to us. The Scriptures teach that we are like mist, blown away by the wind, or like grass, thrown into the fire and consumed. We are here only briefly, one moment full of life and the next moment death comes knocking.
What will we do with the time we are given?
The Scriptures point us to work for kindness and righteousness and justice. Whatever personal and professional goals we have, these values and attributes should be the foundation for our work: honesty, truth, love, joy, peace, charity, etc. Which leads us to the most important point in all of this. That is our relationship to God, to God’s Spirit, and to Jesus Christ.
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
How much time are we awake to God’s presence in and around and among us? How much time are we spending with God in prayer? How much time do we spend listening to God, connecting to God’s Spirit, and learning from Jesus Christ? There is so much in the whole world that can get in the way constantly of this relationship to God, yet it is the most important thing we experience. It is the foundation for everything else we will do. This relationship is what will help us to focus on loving and caring for others, on joy and kindness, on repentance when we need it, and works of justice and righteousness.
I believe that a relationship with God will also help us to determine what are, or should be, the main priorities for our lives. What God is calling us to do, and how can we serve God in all that we are and accomplish. In our careers, with our family and friends, our hobbies and passions, and with all people we meet. God wants us to bring creativity and light to the world through all of these things and in all of these relationships. In this New Year of 2022, let us commit to putting God first, to asking God to help us get in tune with his will for us, to help guide us and direct us toward paths of fulfillment, wholeness, and purpose. We can ask God to use our time, our talents, our gifts and resources, to further his kingdom of love and grace throughout our society.
May God indeed bless us all with inspiration and dedication in the year ahead, in power of the Holy Spirit, and in the love of Jesus Christ, our Savior, and our teacher. Amen!