Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Using our Time Wisely

Today we enjoy many time-saving devices and modern conveniences that were unavailable to our forebears. Another great privilege that we enjoy is that we have more time than they did. That may be hard to believe, in our busy world, but let’s think about it for a minute.

We have literally been given more time to complete our labors upon the earth. With the advancements in science and medicine (which I believe have been a blessing to mankind from God) our life expectancies are more than double what they were in 200 years ago.

Not only do we have more years in which to live, we also have more discretionary time in each day as well. We have many modern conveniences which allow us to spend our time on personal pursuits rather than the hard manual labor that was required of most people to provide for their families.

Nowadays, most of us work in far more controlled settings. Many of us work in climate controlled offices, doing work which is not nearly so physically taxing. For those who work in more physically challenging jobs, there are many workplace rules now in place that restrict the number of hours to be worked, as well as rules to help ensure health and safety in the workplace.

With our increased life-spans, and our increased discretionary time, over that which our ancestors enjoyed, comes a greater accountability for how we use the time that we have. Where much is given, much is expected.

We weren’t given these privileges and blessings so we could just idle away the hours self-indulgently. The Lord has commanded: “Thou shalt not idle away thy time” (D&C 60:13), and “Cease to be idle” (D&C 88:124),

The Hymn, “Improve the Shining Moments” speaks the fleeting nature of time:

“Time flies on wings of lightning, we cannot call it back. It comes, then passes forward along its onward track. And if we are not mindful, the chance will fade away, for life is quick in passing. ’Tis as a single day” (“Improve the Shining Moments,” Hymns, no. 226).

Why does it not seem that we have all of this free time on our hands. The fact is, we have chosen to fill that time with various activities. Have we chosen wisely in how we prioritize our time?

How are we doing on the things in our lives that are really important? The things that will last beyond our mortal lives.

When we make major decisions in our lives, are we seeking for personal revelation, and the guidance of the Spirit? Some of these major decisions in life would include: education, occupation, place of residence, marriage, and childbearing. Some decisions that may seem desirable for mortality have unacceptable risks for eternity. These decisions should be made carefully, and with personal revelation, with all due consideration to what impact of these decisions will have on our lives, and upon the lives of our family, and posterity to come. Both in the here and now, and throughout the eternities.

When we consider how we use our time and resources, we should also give consideration to what the eternal implications might be from our actions, and the way we spend our time. We may need to re-set our priorities, if we are spending too much of our time for that which will not be of benefit to us eternally.

Let’s examine some area’s in which we should be devoting our time towards:

· Family Relationships. Are we building the kind of relationships we should with our children and our spouse, or do we spend too much of our time transfixed before the television, or surfing the Internet. Is everyone off in their own little world, on their personal computer, personal TV, or Personal Music Player or video games? Are we isolated from one another, while living under the same roof? None of these things are necessarily evil (although they can be), but do they seize hold upon us, and divert our attention to that which is trivial and temporal, instead of that which is divine and eternal.

· Spiritual Nourishment. Are our diversions keeping us from doing those things which will nourish our spirits, such as: reading the scriptures, attending worship services, and having meaningful prayer. Are we taking time to examine our lives, and giving thoughtful prayer and pondering as to what the Lord would have us do to continue our progression toward him? Do we have a few quiet moments in which the Holy Spirit can speak to our hearts and minds?

· Reaching Out to Others. Do we know our neighbors by name. Have we reached out the hand of fellowship toward them, even if they are not yet ready to embrace the gospel? We have been commanded to let our light shine before men, that they may glorify, and come unto our Father In Heaven, and his Son. How can our neighbor look to that light, if they don’t know who we are?

The truth is, we can tell what our priorities are by how we use our time.

That to which we devote our time, is that to which we are devoted.

Look at how you spend your time. If you were to analyze how your time used, you would learn rather quickly to what, or to whom you are devoted. Then we can discern if we have set proper priorities for ourselves, or if we might need to us more self-discipline in the way our time is spent. We can determine if our priorities are good ones, based upon their eternal impact.

Based on how we use our time, you might ask yourself if you are devoted to the Lord, or to some other god. King Benjamin Said:

“For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13)

Time, at least in this life, is a scarce resource. Someone has said, “Three things never come back—the spent arrow, the spoken word, and the lost opportunity.” We cannot recycle or save or borrow time allotted to us each day. With time, we have only one opportunity for choice, and then it is gone forever. Each day is rife with a myriad of decisions and choices. With each choice, we either stay on course, or we are diverted from our eternal goals. Our progress is always moving, it never stands still. Either we are truly pressing forward, with a steadfastness in Christ, or we are not. And if we are not, then we are going the wrong direction, and a course correction is in order.

Don’t get me wrong. I‘m not saying there is not time for diversion, recreation and entertainment. These things all have their place. However, they should not be the dominant pursuits of our lives.

Let us resolve to focus on that which is most important. That which has lasting worth and value. That which will bring us hope and peace and joy in this world, and a fullness of joy in the next.

1 comment:

The Fly said...

I read about half of this post, David, and I'll read the other half later. From what I've read so far, you make some great points. Part of my personal philosophy on life is that you should go to bed tired every day (save for Saturday or Sunday, depending on which day you observe the Sabbath) from hard work. I'm always happier, and feel more successful in my efforts to live the life God wants me to live, when I'm working hard, and tired at the end of the day.