God's Geek

Reflections and random thoughts of a geeky youth worker in North London...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Time Well Spent

I felt a blog post was well overdue, but as I also have some other deadlines looming, I thought I would cheat a little by including an article that I wrote recently for the church newsletter. I quite like it though, so here goes...

Can you guess what these statistics from studies in the last year are referring to?

• 233 million working hours are lost doing this every month.
• It costs an estimated £6.5 billion each year in lost productivity.

They are referring to social networking internet sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. Many workplaces have now banned them as they are causing such a distraction, but with millions worldwide using Facebook alone, they are also cutting into people’s social lives. I personally can testify that it is easy to log on and let half an hour slip by checking people’s status updates and writing on their walls… obviously, this is done in my spare time! Although some think the sites are in decline, there is sure to be something else to take its place, as we humans seem to be very good at procrastinating.

If the opening paragraph has left you completely confused, and you can’t tell your MSN Messenger from blogger.com, then perhaps there are other things that you find yourself whiling away your time with. Maybe you are a telly addict, or always do the crossword when the washing up is waiting. This trait is often easier to spot in others! Sometimes we need to ask ourselves whether our time is well spent.

As fairly new parents, a lot of time is spent with our toddler, which I think is a great way to spend time! He recently spent the night at his grandparents and we were amazed at the amount of time that stretched in front of us before we had to leave the house. We found ourselves asking what we did with our time before we had Daniel. I’m sure we’ll ask the same question when we have another child! Sadly, I decided to spend the time emailing and working at 7.30 am rather than relaxing. I’m now not sure this was a great use of time either. I was showing hints of what I call the Martha Syndrome (Lk 10:38-42).

Instead of ‘wasting time’, the other extreme is the Martha Syndrome, where people are committed to so many good things and become so busy that they find it hard to relax, prioritise the wrong things, or become less effective at the many things they are doing. We twist the meaning of Ecclesiastes 3:1, thinking that ‘there is a time for everything…’ means that we must fit everything in!

It seems that we are often stuck between these 2 extremes, either avoiding doing the things that really matter, or doing so much that we have no time to stop and breathe in God’s grace. Is there another way?

A few months back, I took a day trip to London to listen to God. I did nothing dramatic, simply walking around taking the time to stop, look and listen. It had a profound impact on me and God spoke in so many ways. It helped me to rethink, reprioritise and refocus. It was time well spent and helped me to balance out the 2 extremes.

As Mark Yaconelli says in Contemplative Youth Ministry, ‘in this culture, we often feel guilty for taking time to rest. Downtime seems inefficient, unproductive and useless… If we are to minister… then like Jesus we must set aside regular times to stop, let go of our hold on life and let God love us. This is Jesus’ desire for us.’ It is time well spent – could you benefit from it?