Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Time: pt. 2

Worthwhile vs. Worthless

What are the things worth the most to you in life? In the end, what are the things that will win out the battle for what is most important to you?

You spend your time on that which is most important to you. With the exception of work, which often requires us to be there if we are to provide for our selves and our families, it is very simple to determine where a person's priorities lie. Even as I write this I recognize that I place a disproportionate importance on entertainment, which is something that needs to be changed.

So what things are worthless vs. worthwhile? That is something that, to some extent, will be different for everybody. There are a few general rules we can follow though:

Something is worthless if:
It harms your faith, family, or character
It invites sin or sinful practices into your life
There is nothing redeeming about it whatsoever

Something is worthwhile if:
It builds up your faith, family, or character
It encourages you to become better in some way
It teaches skills or ideas that will improve your life in some way

Some will automatically take the track of saying "Games and novels and TV shows are obviously all mostly worthless." I would encourage a more nuanced view. The fact is everyone needs a break at times. That may mean reading a book or vegging out and watching a show or playing a game. Those things can all be good, as long as they are kept in check, as it allows us to get our minds off things, go somewhere else for a little bit, and rest.

It must be kept under control, however. It is far too easy for our short little break to turn into 4-hour marathon "break" sessions. Not only is this physically unhealthy, it is spiritually unhealthy as well. Furthermore, if it takes needed time away from your family and those things which need to get done, it can become a lifestyle problem as easily as breathing.

The point is to make the things you do worthwhile and beneficial to your faith, your family, and yourself. Don't squander your precious time on nothing, but instead spend it wisely, and you will find that you have gotten much further than you ever thought possible.

Don't worry if you mess up. Get back on board and try again. It is a long, often difficult process for us to begin using our time wisely on worthwhile things when worthless things are so easy for us to fall into.

So move forward! There is no time like right now to begin working on it. Remember to pray for help. You (and I) will need it. :-)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Time: pt. 1

What do you spend your time on? Do you have enough time for the things you want to do? How can you do everything you need to do with so little time in the day?

These are all questions that we must answer for ourselves at some point in our lives. If we do not answer them, or if we ignore them all together, we will all too quickly find that we are at the end of our life with very little to show for the years we have been given. If we do not pay attention to these questions, we will forever be trading the important for the "urgent," the worthwhile for the worthless, and distraction for truth.

These three things are not unimportant. They are the basis for everything we do. It is far, far too easy for life to be taken over by urgent, worthless distractions. Living the full life that God has in store for us takes a focused effort, and one that we will have to renew when we find ourselves going off towards the pointless shiny bits that line the road of life. But how can we fight back? How can we get past these things? Over the next few posts we will be looking at these subjects, starting today with the urgent vs. the important.

Urgent vs. Important
One of the most common misconceptions in society today is the thought that because something is urgent, it is automatically important. This is not true. It's the theory behind putting things on sale. When something is on sale we say, "Oh! It's on sale! I have to get that new jacket/shirt/game/whatever before it's full price!" This is simply not the case.

The real case is whether or not you need that item right now, or whether it is something you can do without. Whether it is on sale or not is irrelevant if that money is needed for something else. It is the same with what we choose to spend our time on. Just because someone wants something tomorrow is irrelevant. The real question is what are you giving up in order to get that request done so quickly, and it is worth giving up that which is truly important?

Sometimes the answer will be yes. There are things in life that are both urgent and important enough to put other things on hold. But this is not always the case (in fact, I would argue that it often is not).

Look at your life, the people, the events, and the things in it and ask yourself: "What is most important? What are the things that I cannot fail at? What is required in order for me to be the Christ-centered person God calls me to be?" When you have answered those questions, you will know what is truly important in your life.

When you know what is important in your life, let those things take first priority. Everything else goes to the back of the line until those things are taken care of. If something unexpected or unavoidable does come up, take care of it, but do not let it run your life and dictate it's importance over everything else. I cannot determine what is most important for you in all situations. You are the only person who can decide what level of importance everything takes. In the end, no one else but you gets to decide what they will do with their life.

For myself, the order goes: God, Wife, Children, Family & Friends, Work, Everything Else.

Do I always succeed in living this way? No. Do I always choose the right urgent things to put ahead of items in that list? Hardly. I am human and I make a lot of mistakes. But I do try to learn from them and get better as time goes on.

And that's the key. Work at getting better, and stand back up when you fall short. God will take care of the rest. We are called to move forward and follow Him.

So move forward! It's something every single person on the planet can do. If you don't know what to do yet, then pray and ask for help. You will get it.

Remember, once the big things are taken care of, once the truly important things are settled, there is always plenty of time to take care of that which really does need to be taken care of.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Different Kind of Resolution

At the end of last year and the beginning of this year I thought about the things I wanted to accomplish. The normal things like "get in better shape," "read my Bible more," and others immediately popped into my head and I wondered how I could accomplish them. Then the new year came and went and I did nothing to accomplish them. I fell off the wagon before it even got going.

Personally, I don't really like New Year's resolutions. If you have to wait until the year restarts to begin something, chances are it's not going to happen in the first place. So instead of a "New Years Resolution," I propose something else: a Life Change Resolution. 

Now I am not proposing some radical new medicine, or some new exercise that will make you better, faster, smarter, prettier, and richer. There are enough infomercials to fill that void. What I am proposing is for you to look at your life, see what matches with God's will and what does not, and pick one thing to improve on for the next 6 months. Once you've got that down, move on to the next. It may be slow progress, but there is only one way to eat an elephant, and that is one bite at a time.

Do you struggle with anger? Take time out of your day to actively work on controlling it. 
Do you struggle with money? Pick something you like to spend it on and work on spending less on it.
Do you struggle with prayer? Use your time in the shower to pray.

You may have something else that is difficult. Look at what it is, look at what it takes away from you, and look at the simplest way to fix it.

Then follow through on it.

If you mess up, that's OK. Get back on the wagon and start moving forward again. The point is do not give up. As long as you do not give up, and as long as you realize that you can do it with God's help, you will be successful in the end. Remember, God does not say we have to do everything perfectly all the time. He does say that we must keep trying our best to be what He wants us to be.

So start today! Tomorrow is not soon enough. Today is the day we are given, so let's make the most of it! :-)