I like to joke that most things in life can be explained by scenes from either The Office (the American version, of course) or The West Wing.
Take this scene from The Office, for example, where Holly Flax tries to explain time theft to her officemates. That, to the company, taking extra time at the water cooler is the same as stealing money from corporate.
I don’t work in the business world, but I’ll admit I’m often a time thief. I don’t steal from work; I steal from God.
Let me show you what I mean.
Yesterday I dropped the four-year-old at preschool and put the one-year-old down for his morning nap. Wednesdays I’m home with the kids and there’s always a long to-do list ranging from answering church emails (it’s technically a day off for me, but some ministry items won’t wait!) to grocery shopping to working on an upcoming speaking engagement to chiseling avocado off of the high chair.
I usually have about twenty hours worth of stuff I need to do. The baby sleeps for about an hour. You do the math.
On top of that, I hadn’t spent any time with Jesus yet. The toddler woke at 5am and I might be a pastor but even I’m not holy enough to get up earlier than that to read my Bible. #keepingitreal
So first on the docket for my child-free hour was Jesus, my Bible, and my journal.
Yet as soon as I put him down, I decided to do a “quick check” of social media. (You see where this is going?)
Social media led me to a couple of interesting articles, which led me to updating the grocery list, which led me to making a couple of phone calls for work, which led me to toss in a load of laundry, which led to the baby waking up. The hour was gone, just like that.
Friends, I gave away the time. God’s time.
I grew up in a tradition that leaned more toward legalism than license, so I’m wary of being too hard on myself in these moments. Coming down on ourselves like a hammer when Jesus offers forgiveness isn’t repentance, it’s pride.
I got busy, things happened, I don’t need to put on sackcloth and ashes and wail in the town square.
And yet… I gave away the time. God’s time.
This isn’t nothing. It doesn’t not matter.
Am I forgiven for yesterday? Yes. Do I want to live differently? I sure do.
My challenge this fall is to redeem the time. To put Jesus first.
Sometimes there genuinely isn’t a spare hour until after the kids are in bed. They get up early and sometimes they don’t nap. Occasionally ministry emergencies have me up at the wee hours and on the go until dark.
But my first open time is God’s. If I can browse Facebook, I can pray. If I can update my website, I have time to read Scripture. My friend and fellow pastor calls it “Me Before Media.”
The soul space is there for me. It’s there for you, too.
Don’t give it away.
Have you found this to be a challenge? What has helped you redeem the time?