Time management as a spiritual exercise; day 15 of Ramadan

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“Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.” – Groucho Marx

If you think about it, time is essentially all we have. Because when we have shed our mortal coils, that’s it, game over, fin, adios, sayonara, goodbye… But if we’re wise we can make the most of our time rather than wonder at the end of the day “where the heck did this day go?”
Perhaps the best way to begin with time management is finding out what consumes the most amount of your time during the week and then building around that. In my case I have a Monday through Friday 7am to 3pm job, and while I don’t plan for much before hand apart from getting ready to go, after 3pm is up to me to make the most of it.

From there figure out what activities you’re involved with and/or activities you want to be involved with, add that to your time management but also add on time getting to and from said activities as well as prep time (if needed) in doing the activities. From there allow room for leisure; I bring this up because sometimes in the busyness of every day we don’t allow ourselves time to take things easy. In fact, some of us actually feel guilty to have time spent doing nothing productive but hey, if you’re this kind of person I give you permission to be lazy every now and then.

Incorporate time to spend with friends and family; their time is limited inasmuch as yours is and because of the temporal nature of time this time might be the last time. I don’t mean to be morbid, I am just conscientiously aware of how quickly time goes by.

If you’re the adventurous outdoorsy type, I recommend using some time to go outside into the great outdoors and just be. Not everyone can handle being in the outdoors, but if you can, do it! Allow room to go shopping for needs and wants, allow room to cook food and enjoy it at a gradual non-rushed pace, go biking, be mindful of time spent online / Facebook / watching television because these activities in moderation are good but they can certainly be time sappers and if you’re not careful the day can be that much closer to the end because you spent too much time doing these activities.

And lastly if you’re of a faith tradition, take time to engage God in your synagogue / church / mosque / temple / etc. or if you need a break from the community that can be found in places, take time to engage God on your own terms in your own way (I like spending time with God in the great outdoors or swimming in Lake Michigan).

So with all that being said, time management was my keyword on this 15th day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God for giving us the time we have on our earth. May we invest it wisely and not waste the precious minutes / hours / days / months / years we’ve been given.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

16/30 – Momento Mori

According to Wikipedia “Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as “Remember your mortality”, “Remember you must die” or “Remember you will die” with that being said I sometimes go to local cemeteries to take photos and think over my own life.

I am not a morbid person, at times I have a morbid sense of humor, but there’s something about reading over detailed tombstones of  a person’s life that makes me wonder of the legacy I am leaving behind. Yet some of the tombstones I’ve read over the years haven’t been descriptive in that way, some are blank apart from a year, and some are so faded I cannot tell who lies six feet beneath me.

With the time I waste online, you’d think that I have forgotten that my life has an expiration date or that I think I’m immortal, but no to both I haven’t forgotten. Yet lately I can rationalize to some extent this part of my life, the job called looking for a job, so it hasn’t be a total waste of time.

Waste of time is a perplexing phrase to me at times, simply because the span of my life’s time is all there is, why would I waste some of it? I do what I can to make the most of my time, and there are times where I recognize what I’m doing isn’t so much as spending time but investing time; I mostly invest my time with the students I serve in a youth ministry setting, time invested in building rapport and aiding in their spiritual journeys, things of this nature matter here but to some degree on the other side of eternity.

I do keep myself busy at times, and I’m okay with that, yet sometimes I just need some “me time” apart from everyone else, to catch my breath before I go back to whatever tasks are required of me.

This is all the time you or I will have, make it count, Momento Mori.

~Nathanael~

Money ≠ Time – insights from doing youth ministry with the upper middle class

Disclaimer: I don’t know all the ins and outs with youth ministry completely , and I don’t aim to use my 9 years of helping out in various ministries as a reason to be heard, but what I have learned over the years I feel it doesn’t do much good to keep to myself and so I’ll write what I know and leave it up to you to receive or reject.

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When I first started helping out with youth ministry 9 years ago I didn’t know much except for the location and to some degree the socioeconomic climate of the church I was involved with. I started off working with junior highers who came primarily from family of means, if they wanted something they could probably receive it, but the way that they were able to receive such lavish came from parents who worked a lot. A. Lot.

So when I had time apart from our usual Sunday mornings and nights I got to invest time in some guys who were similar to me (in hindsight, I think I was right to do this, but I should have been more inclusive). Not all the guys I invested in came from intact families, the rift divorce causes sure is a painful one, and I “got it” as I got to know them on a deeper level and they got to know me.

With the rift of divorce in some of these guy’s lives, time spent with one and/or both parents was stretched even more so, and in these times some of the guys were given material goods…but I gathered that these guys would much rather have the time invested in them rather the time spent to afford them such material goods.

I find it sad and even tragic into the limiting view of Time = Money; certainly when it comes to jobs that pay financially we are able to afford most of what we need, but money shouldn’t be our drive so as to work long hours, because that can only last for so long and it becomes an unhealthy exercise wheel, a pattern that isn’t healthy. But it doesn’t stop there, working with intention to make as much money as possible has the risk of affecting others; our significant others, our children, our parents, et al.

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I don’t think money is the root of all evil, but the way your time is spent, and even more to the point, “where your heart is treasure/wealth is, there your heart will be also” – Matthew 6:21. Matthew “got it”, that where we put our first (and sometimes all) our treasure, whether that’s in the time spent in the office working long hours with the premeditated intention to buy into the hype of “you need _________” or whether it is time invested in what truly matters… Yes, work is important, but one needs to weigh the consequences of working, and some of the things I think about in regards to work are as follows:

1) Am I making a difference?
2) Am I doing something that honors God?
3) Am I doing something that honors others?
4) Am I enjoying what I do?
5) Am I being a good steward of my time spent working?
6) Am I being a good steward of the money I from working?

These are questions that constantly buzz my mind when I am working, and to be honest, I am not there yet with all of them, the puzzle pieces are laid out and it’s time to put it together.

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“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, and not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24 (I underlined for emphasis)

With that in mind, work as if you were working for God. Take time to talk to him about the tasks set before you and honor him with your wealth.

Time as you know is quickly ticking away, but I believe that time invested in what truly matters is definitely the way to approach things, to question what matters and seek out ways to pursue those things, but remember this; time invested trumps time spent.

In conclusion, the time you’ve been given is all you have, make the most of it and remember that while in someways time =’s money, that time cannot ever be bought back, therefore money ≠ time.

~Nathanael~