The four letter word that runs our lives.
My first stint as an educator was chosen by the clock.
My training was in pastoral studies. But I was being asked to become a high school teacher in a Christian school. In 256 undergraduate-graduate semester hours I had precisely 6 hours in any type of teaching preparation. Just in terms of time, I was unprepared to teach in a formal educational setting. Time seemed to underscore the obvious choice.
But then I asked myself how much influence could I have within a certain amount of time?
Since one of my gifts is teaching I compared the two opportunities:
Teaching once a week for 45 minutes over 50 Sundays a year equals 37.5 hours per year
By almost a 4 to 1 margin, teaching in a school won out. The most influence I might have over time made my decision to teach an easy one.
Time was my focus when I thought about the people I would teach. In a pastoral role I would principally interact with adults. In a teaching role, I would teach teenagers. Time of life mattered in my decision. I operated based on the anonymous mantra
It is better to build children than repair adults.
The most formative time in life is youth. Ideas which begin to root in the early years will bear fruit in later years. Time was my focus when I thought about the people I would teach.
Longevity was another time issue. How much influence would one have over the longest period of time? How would ideas germinate and grow throughout one’s life? More importantly, if I teach younger people, they will most probably outlive me. Would it be better to spend time with people whose influence will impact more time than my own?
After 30 years of teaching junior high through doctoral students I am still asking myself the same question: what is the best use of my time?
The amount of time, influence over time, and longevity throughout time mattered most in my life’s decision.
The Steve Miller Band was right: Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future. So the question everyone should answer is “What is the best use of my time?”
Time was on Earl Nightingale’s mind in 1956. His brief speech changed marketing.
The title of Nightingale’s speech was “The Strangest Secret.”
Nightingale believed that success in sales and in life was belief in one’s self, in one’s goals. He identified seven ideals necessary for a full life. The seventh is his strangest secret:
“We become what we think about most of the time.”
How we spend our time—what we think about most of the time—impacts us the most.
For me, impressing young minds with true Truth is where I wanted to spend my time.
For you, it may be something different.
But whatever we do, we do it through time.
1. How will I spend the time given to me in this life?
2. How will I prepare for time after this life?
Personally seeking truth wherever it’s found, Mark Eckel reminds himself daily of the ancient line “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14).