June 17, 2020

The title of this post is just a part of one of my favorite quotes of all time.  Many of you have probably heard it before, yourselves, but may not know the entire quote or who made it famous.

The entire quote says, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg.

Several months ago I wrote a post about time management. I don’t remember the exact date right now or what the title was.  But this post will not be redundant.

Time indeed is one of our most valuable assets. None of us know how much time we have been given or when our life’s journey will end. So we want to use that God-given gift as wisely as possible.

I always hated to see people using their time unwisely. It’s what I call wasting time. But we have all done it at certain stages of our lives. I pray, though, that people will outgrow that bad habit as they mature.

An old adage says that a stitch in time saves nine.  That’s quite easily understood.  I thought of that a few months ago when Sandra and I were returning home from a trip we had made back to Arkansas. We used that same route all time coming home, but this time Sandra and I were busy talking and I just completely forgot to make a particular turn off the road we were on at the time. I immediately saw that I had made a wrong turn but it took me 15 minutes to get back to where we started from.  I told Sandra how angry that made me at myself.

And that also reminded me of a quote I often made when someone messed up on something they were doing.  I would say, “If you have time to fix the problem  and make it right the second time, why didn’t you have time to do it right the first time?”

The answer to that question is that usually they just made a mistake or didn’t know exactly how to do it right the first time. Nobody messes up on purpose.

Speaking of saving time, I will never forget a conversation Sandra and I had with a former district superintendent of mine at a church I was pastoring. It was just before our annual business meeting was getting ready to start.

Sandra and I always made some refreshments for people to enjoy before the meeting or afterward.  My district superintendent and his wife got to the church about twenty minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start.  So we all sat down together to visit for a while before the meeting started. His wife told Sandra that she had told her husband we were leaving home too soon. He told her he always liked leaving early so that if he had a flat tire he could fix it and still be on time.  Then she said he told her that if they got there too soon it would just give them more time to visit us.

After the meeting was over, Sandra told me that that conversation reminded her of the many hours I had wasted in my life always leaving too soon to get somewhere. I reminded her that leaving early kept me from worrying about being late.

Someone once told me that his wife was always questioning him about getting places too early and asking him what did he do with all that time he saved.

That’s a basic thought in this post. How do we use our time, whether saved time or just the basic time we have every day?  We all have the same amount of time every day – 24 hours.

I ask  a corny question to people who tell me after me asking the question, “What have you been doing.” And they answer me by saying they have just been doing nothing.”  I say, “Well, how do you know when you get through just doing nothing?”  That question makes my granddaughter, Summer, say,” Paw  Paw, nobody can answer that question.”

But it’s a legitimate question to me. How does one know when they have been using time wisely or wasting time?

Some things we do with our time is not wasting time at all. Like sleeping or resting. That’s necessary for life. Or even people playing. That’s good therapy to unclog your mind from many of life’s daily pressures and stress points.

But use your time wisely whether working, playing, or necessarily relaxing.

At the second church I pastored, the chairman of our board wanted me to let him have a few minutes to say something just before my sermon one particular morning. I told him sure, that’s okay.

He made his announcement and it took me by surprise. He said he wanted to let everyone know that God had delivered him from reading the comics in the newspaper every morning.

After the service was over I asked him in private what he thought was wrong in reading the comics? His answer was something I have just learned myself this year. He said there was nothing wrong reading comics, but he figured out one day that he was spending about 70 minutes a week reading the comics. He said, “I started using that 70 minutes a week in wasted time every week by going to his private office at work or his bedroom when at home to pray for his children and grandchildren.

He was a very wise man. I used to think I had to read certain things. Like newspapers, to keep up with what was going on in the world or even just in my town. I, too, stopped reading comics. And I even enjoyed reading Dear Abby. I stopped that wasted time habit and now do something more productive with my time.

Soon after moving to Longview, Sandra got a call from someone wanting to sell her some magazine subscriptions to several different magazines. She told the salesperson she had never even heard of some of those magazines he was wanting to sell her. The salesman told her they were going to mail her the magazines anyway so she could see whether we liked them.  Well, magazines come weekly, and sometimes we don’t care for them. A few of them I casually looked through a time or two. But now I just throw them away as they arrive. I just don’t have the spare time to even look through them. That was a wise decision. I can use that time for better things.

I could continue for some time on this topic, but I am sure you can see where maybe you too have wasted time in your life.  Let’s agree together to spend our God-given time as wisely as possible.

God Bless You,
Spencer Plumley

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