Making the Best Use of the Time
How are you spending the time?
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” - Ephesians 5:15-17
What if you woke up everyday and found out an entire year had passed while you were sleeping? That’s the plotline of the Italian film, Era Ora. One man falls asleep on his 40th birthday and awakes to find it’s his birthday again, but it’s one year later. Each day that passes, he is propelled 365 days into the future with no memory of the year that’s gone by.
Throughout the film, the main character must work to understand just what he’s missed over the past year and exactly what he’s done. Soon he discovers that his demanding job and workaholic lifestyle is leading him down a darkened pathway toward loss.
It’s a story that resonates with so many of us who have worked in public service. Each job comes with its very own demands. Whether you’re a staff assistant who is only permitted an hour lunch break away from your desk or a communications director responding to media requests in real time — your time is not your own.
On top of that, each job also carries with it personal demands: a coworker needing to talk through how they should address a difficult colleague or wanting advice on how to deal with a fight they just had with a loved one. Meanwhile there’s always a list of tasks to get to that’s being interrupted by their presence.
There lies the dilemma. Do we take time to pause and listen to what’s on their minds, or do we quickly brush them away — too busy completing the day’s tasks?
Ephesians 5 teaches us that a part of wisdom is being able to make the best use of the time. The Bible here isn’t referring to how good we are at fitting everything in, but about what exactly we are filling our time with.
In the book of Luke, there’s an amazing story about when Jesus’ parents lost track of him. They had traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. But when his family and extended relatives began to make their way back home, Jesus decided to stay behind in the city.
A day passes before his parents realize he isn’t among the traveling caravan. They quickly return to Jerusalem, and after three days of searching they find him in the temple sitting with the teachers, listening and asking questions.
His mother Mary, naturally, asks him what in the world he was thinking of going off and leaving them anxiously searching for him. His response is, “Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?”
For Christians working in government, the memos, press releases, and legislative positioning aren’t really the focus of God’s ultimate mission and concern. We certainly should be dedicated to fulfilling our daily tasks, but we must come to understand that those daily tasks rarely deserve primary placement in our lives.
When God calls us to a place or an occupation, he is calling us to a people — people he created in his own image. A part of our Christian walk is learning to love the people God loves and that means making time for them.
Each day we must consider what Christ considered: Are we making proper space and time for God’s mission?
If the answer is no, then we must take action to ensure our day-to-day priorities better reflect the heart of Christ. For some of us, that might mean arriving at work a little early to finish a few tasks before the day begins so we have pockets of time later to fill with human needs. For others, it might mean asking a coworker if you can make time immediately after work to more fully discuss whatever might be concerning them.
Whatever the solution, as Christians we must remember to prioritize the things that God puts first — making the best use of the time he’s given to us.
Dominique McKay is a Women's Ministry Associate in Washington, D.C.