Letters to young leaders: How are you using your time?
“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7,8)
In preparation for this Sunday’s worship read 1 Timothy 4. As I read the text, one question that the Holy Spirit brought to mind was, “How are you using your time?”
Paul encourages the young leader Timothy to stay away from those things that are frivolous and hold no value for today or the life to come. In a sense, he says, “Be careful how you spend your time.” Moses knew that time was precious and so asked God to teach him how to measure it by days not by years (Psalm 90:12). He knew that if he cared about how he spent his days the years would take care of themselves. Paul also knows that time is precious so he says focus on that which is important and eternal, “train yourself to be godly.”
Those words speak of intentionality, purposefulness and focus. The truth is that time can never be retrieved. It cannot be hoarded. It can only be spent and so it is important that we select our priorities carefully. Paul warns Timothy to stay away from “godless myths and old wives’ tales”. If he was writing today he would perhaps warn us to stay away from celebrity gossip and binge watching shows on Netflix. But the point he is making is that we need spend our time wisely and intentionally on that which lasts for eternity.
A leader must be able to evaluate the different opportunities that lie before them and say no to that which is trivial (“godless myths and old wives tales”) and yes to that which is vital (“training to be godly”). J. Oswald Saunders offers this insight,
“It is often helpful to keep records of how each hour in a given week is spent, and then look at the record in the light of scriptural priorities. The results may be shocking. Often the record shows that we have much more time available for Christian service than we imagine.
Suppose we allot ourselves a generous eight hours a day for sleep (and a few need more than that), three hours for meals and conversation, ten hours for work and travel. Still we have thirty-five hours each week to fill. What happens to them? How are they invested? A person’s entire contribution to the kingdom of God may turn on how those hours are used. Certainly those hours determine whether life is commonplace or extraordinary.”1
Janet and I have a plaque on our bedroom wall with the familiar rhyme by C.T. Studd, “Only one life, twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
May each of us treasure the gift of time that God has given us and use it fully for his glory, Pastor Tom.
1. J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership (Chicago: Moody Press, 1967) 95.