This past week I found myself spending much more time than normal simply waiting. In a five hour period, I spent three of those hours just waiting for the next step. Imagine what could have been done in that time, especially since so much of it was continuous! As we struggle to gain control of our time, one of my personal frustrations is often how much time is wasted standing in line. From the grocery store to the doctor’s office to the post office (yes some people still use regular mail) the amount of time that could be redeemed from those moments would be staggering.
Understandably the times spent in line are beyond our capabilities of control. However, that does not mean that it has to be time wasted. In fact, in light of our constant search for more time, prudence would suggest that we should utilize that time to the best of our abilities. While those moments may not be the most efficient use of our time, we can at least make them more effective (a concept I previously talked about here) so that we are not completely at a loss.
So here is a list of 7 things that we can do to be more effective with the time that is outside of our control:
- Read: As a person who always tries to promote reading, this should come as no surprise. Reading just 15 minutes a day, a person can get through an average size book in about a month. I carry a book with me always so that in those downtime moments, I have something to read. And with technology today, most people can simply pull out their phone to read. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be just any book, but a specific one: the Bible. We always complain about not having enough time to read Scripture, so why not redeem the time by drawing nearer to God.
- Pray: Like reading Scripture, we often say we lack the time to pray. Here is yet another opportunity to pray continuously (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer doesn’t have to be out loud, eyes closed, etc. in such a way you draw attention to yourself, but it can be done in such a way to put your attention on God.
- Memorize: Create some flashcards of Scriptures you want to memorize and carry them with you. You may only have two or three minutes of downtime, but that’s enough to review and help. Again, technology helps with this as well. Some platforms have programs you can download to create electronic flashcards or you can simply write down the verses in a notetaking app, thus always having them with you.
- Converse: This is one where technology doesn’t help you, it hurts you. The tendency for most people these days is to pull out their phone and not make eye contact with anyone around them when waiting. But perhaps these are God-given moments to build relationships, whether ones that last a few seconds or a few years.
- Evangelize: Related to conversing is that the Lord may create an opportunity to evangelize. Rather than wasting those precious moments doing nothing, they may become an opportunity to do something of eternal significance.
- Spend: Spend the time. Specifically spend the time with those who may with you. I am especially thinking of parents who are out with their children, or husband and wife running errands together. Spend those moments waiting talking to one another and building a deeper relationship. Perhaps you have family or friends with you on a particular day. Then further the relationship with them.
- Relax: Sometimes the best thing you can do with your time is nothing. Maybe a break is needed and that’s OK. The down time may be the perfect opportunity for some rest and regrouping. It’s important not to use this as an excuse so that you being to ‘waste’ time relaxing, but at the same time it is important to get adequate time.
In reality, these should be basic concepts. Yet in today’s technologically connected culture, they are neglected. It is easier to pull out a phone and check Facebook rather than start a conversation with someone (after all, these days we can’t talk with our mouths, but only with our hands, typing). Certainly we may be uncomfortable doing some of these (i.e. evangelizing) and some of them require preparation (i.e. determining what book you want to read) however, consider what can be accomplished with them.
Should we even care about redeeming this time? First off, if we are as concerned about not having enough time as we say we are, then yes. However, there is another principle at play here. The 1 Corinthians 10:31 principle. Paul writes to the Corinthians in this verse to say, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of the Lord.” I previously wrote how this verse should be a motivating factor for all that we do in life (to read that post, click here). This concept directs all that we do, and should cause us to consider how we are spending that time waiting. Are we using it for the Lord’s glory? If so, how? If not, why and what can we do about that? The time you have been given is a gift from the Lord and can be used for his glory, so the question is, “How will you use it?”
Photo “Large Crowd Exits Train, Park Street” courtesy of user Almond Butterscotch and Flickr.