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Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity. Henry Van Dyke

Have you ever considered the limited time Jesus had on Earth?

calendar

The central figure in all of history lived only thirty-three years, and thirty of those were spent in obscurity and preparation. Three years, a little more than one thousand days—that’s all the time He had.

This was a guy who needed a PDA, an efficiency consultant, and a scheduling secretary. He came to communicate God’s eternal message of grace and forgiveness, the most important message in the universe, and His time was limited. He knew, as no other human has ever known, exactly what He needed to accomplish and how much time He’d been given in which to accomplish His mission.

He needed to use those days effectively, reach as many people as possible. Limited personal access could be granted only to key influencers. Large audiences, tight schedules, no wasted minutes, no frivolous interruptions, no unnecessary travel—He needed to squeeze maximum impact from every precious second.

So what did Jesus do with His one thousand days? He wandered among small, isolated villages and stayed with outcasts. He spent much of His time with a small band of uneducated followers. He often consciously avoided the influential leaders and large population centers.

He acted as if He could change the world through personal relationships, one life at a time. Instead of parading “common people” like props at a speech, He went to their homes and got to know them. When He met the woman at the well, He spent an entire day with her and several more with her neighbors.

A modern high-profile political, religious, or business leadere spent much of His time with a smaH would never consider managing time as Jesus did. Large-scale influence is the goal, delegation is the means, and controlled access is the necessary strategy.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12:25-26)

Jesus seemed to see things through a different lens. Instead of parceling His time into carefully managed appointments and “quality moments,” each individual He encountered got His undivided attention. Rather than trying to expand His personal brand through broad exposure, He taught, encouraged, and cared for inconsequential individuals.

Someone should have told Him about efficient use of limited time. Imagine how much He could have affected the world, the organization He could have created, and the legacy He might have left if He had only used those thousand days more effectively.

What can you learn about managing your time from Jesus’ example?

Please leave a comment, visit my website, and/or send me an email at rich@richdixon.net

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Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.  ~ Carl Sandburg

Our culture seems obsessed with time.

time-flies-clock-10-11-2006

Calendars and clocks dominate. Ask someone to dinner and they’re likely to pull out a PDA to check their schedule. I know people who account for their time in ten-minute increments and examine past data for patterns, endlessly seeking opportunities for increased organization. Efficiency’s the name of the game; how much more can we squeeze into each day?

I wonder if we’d be better off asking a different question: How much more might we get from each day?

There’s nothing wrong with using time wisely; we only get a limited amount, and we can’t store it for later use. And it’s good to be reasonably organized; missing appointments or double booking doesn’t demonstrate much respect for others.

But how much of our compulsive efficiency is driven by external expectation? How many of those highly organized tasks don’t have much to do with our central values? I suspect that many of those extra items crammed into every spare moment really represent someone else’s priorities—allowing someone else to spend our time.

I’ve said this many times—I’m not seeking extended leisure time. I want to have fun. I want to be engaged in useful, productive projects. I want to help others. I want to foster new relationships and nurture existing ones. I don’t want endless days with “nothing to do.”

I’m simply a bit mystified about why we seem to believe that those desires are distinct. If I’m doing useful work, why can’t that also be fun? If it’s not, why don’t I do something else? Why work fifty weeks each year for that precious two-week vacation when I can do what I really want to do? Why can’t I be productive and build relationships concurrently?

Our culture sells us a false dichotomy. “Responsible adults” earn a living; they don’t have time to worry about enjoyment or satisfaction. The whole economy’s built on our belief that we must go to work to get the money to buy the stuff. Once in a while, perhaps we ought to ask whether the stuff’s truly significant enough to trade our time for it.

Or maybe there’s a better way to get the stuff. I’m not advocating a life of poverty, even as it exists in America. But I also don’t want to run a maze constructed by “them” without concern for where it leads. We don’t have to operate according to the culture’s standards and expectations.

I want to believe that what I do accomplishes something worthwhile according to my values. I want to spend my time by choice, not by habit or reflex or accident or expectation. I don’t want my life to be someone else’s decision.

I want to invest my time on purpose. How about you?

Please leave a comment, visit my website, and/or send me an email at rich@richdixon.net

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Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I think a lot about time.

One of society’s false myths maintains that retirement magically produces additional time. I have the same amount of time each day as everyone else. Time’s quite democratic, because everyone gets exactly twenty-four hours each day. We can spend them wisely or waste them, but we all get the same amount. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Tim Ferris wrote a great book called The Four-Hour Workweek. Sounds like a great idea, but what happens to the other 164 hours if I don’t work? I can’t imagine that much reality television or cable sports.

Actually, Tim’s premise makes a lot of sense if you understand his definition of work: “anything you’d rather do less of.” We squander our time doing tasks we’d rather avoid, because we feel for some reason that we “have” to do them.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to stop doing productive, meaningful tasks. I want to make a difference, help others, and contribute something positive. And when I’m doing those things, it doesn’t really feel like “work.”

I’m in the process of revising my web site and integrating it with this blog. I’m doing it all myself, a large task when each step requires me to learn something new about the mysteries of html, php, and server file structure. My wife seems to think I’m nuts, but I actually enjoy this process. It doesn’t seem like “work” to me.

I don’t want to reflexively dodge unpleasant obligations and responsibilities. But I don’t want my precious hours to be spent, day after day, doing something I don’t value. We all spend far too much of our time doing what others expect or habitually following old patterns. Life degenerates into drudgery in which we go to work to get the money to buy the stuff, without ever asking whether the stuff really holds any significance.

I don’t want to become more efficient at filling up my time with more and more tasks, and I don’t want to be consumed by mindless routine and insignificant cultural expectations. That’s not living life on purpose.

I want to control my time, because it’s really the only asset I have. I want to do productive, purposeful projects, I want to have fun, and I want to nurture and build healthy, authentic relationships. None of those are “work,” but they all require time, energy, and effort.

I’m going to focus this week on investing my time in places that matter to me.

How about you? What’s “something you’d rather do less of?” How can you move toward that goal?

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