There are only 10,080 minutes in a week and we use every single one of them. We divvy our minutes out like candy to tasks like a school, reading, watching TV, video games, eating, going to the bathroom, sleeping, talking, driving, exercising, cleaning, playing on our smartphones, scanning the internet for useless blogs like this one, doodling, chores, and occasionally doing real work at a job (tasks not necessarily listed in order of priority).
With so many different things vying for our limited time, how do we decide what to do with our days?
Well, obviously there are certain responsibilities and necessary acts we need to fulfill. If we don't work then we don't have money for food, rent, clothing, etc. If we don't sleep then our brains turn to liquid and drip out our ears (look it up!).
But what do we do with the extra bit of time that is not dictated by responsibility?
NUMBER YOUR DAYS
Because our time is limited we need to be careful how we use it. I believe that time is one of our most valuable gifts given by God. We can always earn more money. We can always eat more food. We can always find more love.
When it comes to time, there is no return policy. Once you use it, it is gone and it is not coming back—no DeLorean to save you.
We know this in the back of our heads and yet we act like we have all the time in the world. We fritter our precious minutes away without a second thought. I once spent a whole day watching LOST episodes (that show is as addictive as potato chips), never mind that I had finals that week.
Maybe we should think about it a little more. Maybe we should pray, like the Psalmist prayed, "teach us to number our days" (90:12).
Tony Reinke, in his book Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books, outlines a list of priorities he uses to decide which books, out of the millions of books in print, to read and which to reject. I have tweaked the list a bit and turned them into questions that we can ask ourselves when deciding how to use our precious spare time.
Will this help me to know and delight in Christ?
Our first priority should always be seeking after Christ. If we call ourselves Christ's followers, citizens of the heavenly city, then we should start living like it.
Will this kindle spiritual reflection?
We may think we understand everything about the Christian life: grace, faith, love, and salvation. The thing is we will never fully understand these concepts and so we should continually seek to grow in this.
Will this initiate personal change?
Right theology is nothing without right living. We should constantly realize our sin, repent, confess and change. We should be able to look back a year from now and say, "I am not the same person I was a year ago."
Will this enable me to pursue vocational excellence?
As Christians, in everything we do we are called to "work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (Colossians 3:23). This means we ought to seek to be the best employees we can be, as worship to God. Even in our spare time we can pursue such excellence.
Will this help me enjoy life?
Now, seeking to enjoy life should first and foremost not contradict following any of the previous priorities, eliminating any excuse to indulge in sin. Yet, we should also realize that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17). God has blessed us with certain things and it is ok to enjoy them, acknowledging that He is the Gift-Giver therefore glorifying Him.
Does this mean that all our time needs to be filled with priorities 1 and 2, keeping us from getting to 4 or 5? No. In fact, these priorities are interconnected and usually by fulfilling the lower ones we can also fulfill the more important ones.
Instead, this should cause us to reevaluate how we spend our time and give us a new perspective as to how we can redeem our LOST minutes.