Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Time will Tell

As I approach the end of my 50th year, I am finding more and more pleasure in a few simple things. Among them are a quiet early morning, a great cup of coffee, and the day's paper. Taken together, these simple things make for twenty minutes of settled satisfaction. Recently, I read an article detailing one man's boast that he could determine the character and personal preferences of someone based on the foods they preferred. I found it an interesting but ultimately unconvincing idea. But, it did get me thinking. And while our menu preferences may not be a good witness to our character, I'd like to suggest that the way we view time actually may be.

My life is made up of meetings and appointments. Several times a day I find myself obligated to meet an expectation regarding time. And I propose that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who believe they are so important that people will - indeed should -- wait for them; and those who consider others so important that they make sure no one will ever have to wait for them.

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering if I'm making a mountain out of a few minutes. Probably. But think about this: Time, unlike money, or food, or any other commodity, can never be increased. You can never make more of it. In fact, each of us has, everyday, all the time there is. It is one of the only fixed quantities you and I deal with. We may be able to increase our monetary flow, or our stockpile of food, or any of our other possessions. We may even grow in our love, our knowledge, and our strength. But no one will ever be able to add even 1 second to the length of an hour.* This makes time the most valuable commodity you and I have. Imagine if I let other people spend my money at will. If I let others spend $5 of my money here, and $10 dollars there, as they wanted, wouldn't people think me a fool? So, if I don't let others spend my money, why is it alright if they spend my time? If the meeting is supposed to begin at 2:00 pm, why is it allowed in our culture for some to come a few minutes late, and not be consider to have robbed each person already there of those minutes?

Here's what I think: While you probably cannot determine a person's character by the dessert they choose, you can get a good fix on how considerate they are of others by the way they view time, especially the time others spend waiting on them. People who think nothing of coming in late will have a hard time convincing anyone that they are "considering others as more important than themselves" as Paul calls us to in Philippians 2:3. In a world where being a servant is less and less prized, where the sense of entitlement is becoming progressively predominant, where personal convenience increasingly trumps courtesy, where "my" time matters, and "yours" doesn't as much, how do you measure up as an "others-centered" sample of God's handiwork? Perhaps time will tell.

* Yes, I know that God did add some hours to a day back in the days of Joshua (see Joshua 10) but I wouldn't count on it in your life!


At 2:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm convinced the same situation exists in the lives of many new Christians. They've been "courted" and counseled to the point of accepting Christ and then left to their own devices while the person who led them to the Lord in the first place is off to a new recruit. Too many times these baby Christians are left without the resources to help them learn how to grow and mature in the faith and as a result find themselves either off in left field cultivating wrong doctrine, or disenchanted and discouraged on their way to becoming yet another detractor of the abundant Christian life. Shame on us.

At 1:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your blogs. Don't stop writing! I totally agree with you and it is so refreshing to hear someone who stands on the Word of God!

Your cousin,
Janna Hegg McDonald


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