The past two years have brought many growing pains in my life. Not physically (as I hope I’m done with pregnancy!) but spiritually.
I believe God has a way of nudging us in His direction for our lives, especially if we earnestly seek Him for His will. That happened to me in the form of feeling convicted about the way I spent my time and my talents. For the most part, these go hand-and-hand. However, God wanted me to see how I wasn’t living with a Kingdom mindset when it came to time.
Before I share my own convictions, let me say that each person should listen to what God asks of him or her when it comes to a Kingdom mindset in terms of time. My experience is in no way meant to sound judgmental or condemning.
Concerning my career
I feel blessed beyond measure to work from home. And while I enjoyed the lifestyle, the quality of my writing wasn’t so much fun anymore. The reason? Conviction.
Sure, I could write lucrative pop culture articles that some might consider literary clickbait. But what was the point in that when I could write something that actually helped people?
As I started feeling personal discontentment with the mindless fluff I wrote, several people I had never met commented here and there that they would love to see me write something deeper. One even commented that I shouldn’t waste my talent writing such articles. Ouch.
Still, I settled for what I call half-obedience. An example of this would be when I tell my son to get ready for bed. Instead of doing all the various tasks that entails, he only brushes his teeth as a stalling mechanism. On the next warning, he uses the bathroom. For the next, he puts away his toys.
My half-obedience came in the form of cutting back on the fluff articles. In all honesty, I didn’t want to let go of the nice paycheck that came from them. Knowing my tight-wad mentality, God had to push me more. That came in the form of the actual company I worked for restructuring in a way that meant I could no longer earn a commission. Also, articles I could crank out like candy would now require jumping through lots of new hoops of online regulations.
After that, I got the hint and stopped writing for the company altogether. I worked more for another client instead and made sure to set aside deadline-free time to write whatever God wanted me to write. Around that time, the idea sprang up for my first novel. No doubt, thanks to the Holy Spirit.
Concerning my “free” time
Anyone who works and has kids can join me in laughing at the words “free time.” (By the way, I’m honored you choose five minutes out of your day to read my blog.)
Like it or not, we all have 24 hours a day, no more and no less. At different life stages and under different circumstances those hours can seem to drag on or fly by or something in between. I’m in a stage where I try not to waste a minute due to all the responsibilities with my family, church and work. That’s why God needed to change how I spent my time:
1- I can’t do it all. I have had trouble saying “no” for as long as I can remember. Whether a friend wanted a favor while I was swamped with work or someone at church asked me to join just one more committee, I couldn’t stand the thought of letting anyone down.
God showed me that in never saying “no,” I had neglected my own family at times and often agreed to do things outside of my gifting when someone else could’ve done it better. I learned to pray for better discernment about what He wanted me to do.
For instance, God had already put a burden in my heart for teenage girls when I was asked to help with the middle-school ministry at church. That was truly a “God thing.” In many other cases, I might get asked to do something not because I was the best person for the job but the most likely to take it.
That’s not to say it’s wrong to fill in needed vacancies. But none of us can do it all, and thinking we can is dancing too close to pride.
2- I shouldn’t waste time. Let me start by clarifying that it’s not wrong to hang out with friends and fellowship. However, anything can become an idol in our lives when we put it in the place of what God wants.
I had spent too much time watching mindless TV in the name of “research” for my literary clickbait when I could and should have been writing or reading my Bible. Also, I spent far too much time socializing simply because I couldn’t tell people “no” to invites.
Several people have accused me of acting “too holy” since I have changed the ways I spend my time. But the only person I will need to answer to is God. At the end of my life, I want to say that I kept eternity in mind when I spent my time on earth. I’ll gladly decline an invitation or have a backed-up DVR if it means God can then use me to write something to help others or to mentor my young children.
The evidence is there
We can learn a lot about ourselves when we look at our calendars. Just like a bank statement shows what we value with our money, a schedule shows what we value with our time.
Are we taking time to use the talents God has given us?
We don’t have to work at a church or as a missionary to make a difference for God’s Kingdom. I heard a great testimony last night from an elementary school teacher. He shared how he chose that career because he wanted to impact the lives of kids for Christ.
Sometimes it takes little more than a willingness to listen to someone’s problems or to run a meal by someone’s house. We shouldn’t be so consumed with our own agendas that we make no room for allowing God to use us.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
This remains one of the most infamous interview questions of all time. The notion of five-year-planning goes beyond career too, as many personal journals focus on this chunk of time. So what if we asked ourselves this question pertaining to not only our vocational and personal lives but also our spiritual lives?
Questions to consider:
What do we need to change to get closer to God in the next five years?
What can we do to impact His Kingdom in the next five years?
How can we lead the next generation to live for God?
While it’s smart to save up for the future, let’s make sure we make plenty of deposits into our spiritual account as well.
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