“Look up in air! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! NO!!! It’s Superman!!”
As humans, we have limitations that we cannot exceed. We have often dreamed of what it would be like to exceed them and from those ideas characters like “Superman” and “Wonder Woman” were created. We’d like to think that we don’t need sleep or that we don’t need “down time” a.k.a. relaxation and renewal. We fill up our schedules to prove to the world and to ourselves that we can do it…we can “do” for 18 hours a day! But to what cost?
Freshman year of high school: I took geography as an elective in order to look good when it came to apply for colleges. I was in band following the steps of my older siblings who had been in band at that same high school. I made the Junior Varsity Basketball cheerleading squad which quickly became the Varsity squad after all 5 girls in the original Varsity squad quit. I was in the Spring Musical which consisted of long hours in the auditorium what felt like night after night. These were just a few of the things that I involved myself in that year.
The point: I did so many things, but I didn’t do any of them well.
I stink at geography. Just ask anyone that knows me…it wasn’t until my later teenage years that I finally realized that Rhode Island wasn’t an island. To top it off, it didn’t make 1 ounce of difference when it came to getting into college whether I took Geography that year or Basket Weaving! Band? Well, considering it was a time commitment of about 15 hours a week, I just did my best to hang in there. As a cheerleader I did end up winning “Most Spirited” only to see later that attending every single game (including playoffs) gave me little time for homework and my grades plunged severely. As far as the musical? I was an extra in “Bye Bye Birdie” and I got to sing one solo line. I was so tired day after day, that I fell asleep EVERY day in Spanish I class, and got a ‘B’ as a result. I know what you are thinking, “You got a ‘B’ and you fell asleep everyday? Not bad!” Did I mention that I was fluent in Spanish when I took the class? Not so impressive anymore.
We tend to over commit and a direct result of that is that we under deliver.
The reality is that there are tons of things that are screaming “Sign up here…Join this club!…Commit your Tuesday afternoons to this!” but there is only so much that you can do if you are intending on glorifying God with your commitments. We tend to over commit and a direct result of that is that we under deliver. God is less impressed by how many things we think we can do versus how well we glorify him in the few things we choose to do whole-heartedly.
There are only 24 hours in a day and only 7 days in a week. No amount of meditation or modern technology can change that. Time is valuable and we don’t fully understand that. Some have tried to illustrate it by (sadly enough) comparing it to money so that we can see that it truly has value, and that we waste so much of it away. Where we go wrong in understanding this however is by thinking that doing as much as we can is what prevents us from wasting time away. That is simply not the truth. In fact, over committing can actually be a way of throwing your time away because you are spread so thin that most of your endeavors are poorly done, as a result of not having as much time to commit to them (because you are spending that time working on your next “thing”).
All things need time, but because there is only so much time, we have to evaluate what is most important, and drop the rest.
We must remember that devoting time to something is what allows us to do that thing well. An athlete does not succeed by only running the day of the race. We don’t become good friends with someone by talking with them 10 minutes every other day. We don’t ace the test by simply attending class and not taking notes. All things need time, but because there is only so much time, we have to evaluate what is most important, and drop the rest.
In Matthew 5:37 Jesus declared, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or “no, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”
Jesus is serious when he describes the level of integrity that needs to be present in your commitments. Notice that he says that you can answer “no”. So many times we guilt ourselves into thinking that it is wrong to say “no” if someone asks us to do something. Jesus doesn’t say which answer is right. What he does say is that you better mean what you say. If you don’t, than it is of evil. If someone asks me to go with them to volunteer at a nursing home on Saturday afternoon, but I have already committed to working on a paper then, it is wrong of me to say “yes”, not only because I am previously committed, but because I am automatically weakening what I can give to the people at the nursing home because more than likely I will be thinking the whole time, “I have got to get that paper written!” The trip to the nursing home is not wrong in itself, but committing to it when I can’t give it my full attention is what is wrong.
Choosing your commitments
While your relationship with the Lord should be your first priority (which will show by how much time you take to nurture it), remember that you have to opportunity to glorify God in anything that you do. A question to ask now is, “How do I choose?” “Which things are worthy of my time?”
Here are some suggested steps to choosing which things to invest your time in:
- Put God at the top of your list. Because he is the source of all things good in our lives, it would be completely upside down to put the things he created above him. If you devote to him what he deserves (which is really ALL of you), he will make your path straight so that you can honor him in the other things you choose to do.
- Recognize that God has gifted us each with talents and abilities. You can usually tell what yours are by realizing that there are some things that come more naturally to you than others. For example, maybe you learn new instruments quickly or maybe you are a good at listening to people. Identify these things and seek to grow in them, so that you may honor God with what he has given you.
- Remember that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love others. A practical way to view this is to keep your relationships strong. God is really into people, and you should be too. Spending time with loved ones is always a good way to invest your time, whether it’s family, spiritual mentors or good friends.
If you still struggle with lessening your load, ask the Lord to show you what is more important. “If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you do – ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.” (James 1:5) Pray and trust that the Lord will lead you. If you want some extra prayer support, just let us here at Deeper Devotion know and we will gladly pray for you.
Life is short. Choose where you spend your time wisely, and fully commit yourself to that choice, that you may honor God and bless those you’ve committed to. Recognize your limitations, and maturely choose to under commit and over deliver.