How we spend our times says a lot about what we think is important. How do you spend your 24?
In Matthew 6:21, Jesus made a wise observation. 21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Even more than money in our modern world, I would say that our time is our treasure and how we spend our time is even more telling of our priorities than where we spend our money. We spend money on a charity and feel like we've done our part. We buy some wrapping paper and feel we've supported our children's school. We buy our children cell phones, but don't have any deep conversations face to face. We so easily let our money stand in for our time but it's not the same thing. A friend of mine who recently divorced summed up the impact on our relationships, "He gave us presents when what we really needed was his presence."
Time is more precious than money because we can always make more money but no one can make more time. We've each got the same 24 hours but the real trick is that none of us is guaranteed even the next moment. We don't know when time is up and we'll have no more. We don't know at what point our clock stops and we don't know when anyone else's clock will stop either. Sadly, we take for granted that we have more time and put off things that are important sometimes in favor of dealing with what is urgent.
I thought I didn't have time to write and then I was asked to edit a children's book. Lo and behold, suddenly I found time to do it because it was something I really wanted to do. I used to say that I didn't have time to exercise but then I decided it was important and I "made" time for it. We make time for what we feel is important.
Many of us, me included, sometimes feel that we don't have time for a daily quiet time with God but the reality is that I have the same number of hours in my day that Billy Graham does. If it was important to me, I would spend my time doing it. Sometimes prioritizing your time may mean multi-tasking in areas that don't involve relationships, but don't kid yourself that you can maintain a relationship while doing something else.
People require your undivided attention. After your kids get home from school, schedule 15 minutes to sit down with them while they have their snack and ask them about their day instead of asking them while you're cleaning up the kitchen. You just might get a longer answer than "Okay." If passing on your faith is important to you, schedule time to read the Bible to your kids and discuss what you've read. Play Christian music and talk about the messages. With older children, discuss world events and talk about what the Bible says about how Christians should act in such circumstances.
Your marriage also requires your time to be healthy. Regular time together is essential. Rob and I make sure the kids are in bed every night by 9 so that we have at least an hour of time to spend talking together about our day. We also make sure we go out together regularly, even if it's only to watch the sunset at the beach with a homemade picnic. If I want this relationship to flourish, I have to invest my time into it.
About friendships I'll say only this: Facebook is nice but it's not a substitute for face to face. A great way to stay connected with friends and foster deeper relationships is to have friends come to your house for dinner. We spend two Friday nights a month at home having friends over for dinner. Their kids and our kids have fun and play and the adults talk and strengthen our relationships. We also find that carpooling helps us in this area. You tend to chat more when you have events or activities in common.
Look at what you're spending your time on and make sure it reflects your priorities. Whatever you want the most return on is where you should make the most investment of your time. Use your 24 wisely.