External Challenges of Living Timelessly
Have you felt the struggle to gain control over your time? When we struggle to keep up in the present, we fall behind to the point of taking time away from future commitments. This creates time poverty or debt. Time debt happens when we keep saying yes to new things when we don’t even have time to finish what’s already in front of us. We become like the person in Matthew 6: 31–32 that is worrying and chasing after what seems urgent rather than focusing on what is important. Unlike financial debt where money is a renewable resource, time is not.
Another challenge to our time is heightened expectations brought on by technology that makes us accessible twenty-four hours a day. Technology has made life easier in so many ways—and more complicated in others. We expect things of ourselves, our lives, and our abilities that previous generations simply did not—and in many ways, could not. Early on, few of us thought about how time-consuming social media could become or how it can create upward social comparisons that drain our joy as we compete to keep up.
Sometimes we change our behavior to meet the expectations of others, hoping to increase our social status. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is real, and it can drive us to add activities and expectations to our lives that we don’t have time for. It is a prime example of false urgency. High expectations can move us to assign urgency to things that aren’t meaningful priorities and build a lack of patience in waiting for the things that are meaningful. Think about that for a moment: What would it look like if you adjusted your expectations?
Our souls crave meaning and at some point, we have to know that what we choose to spend our time doing daily has significance beyond simply getting things done. As a Christian, what gives your life meaning? As you attempt to live up to expectations—both self-imposed and cultural—you begin to realize that the price for meeting those expectations can pull you away from what God wants for your life. Deep down, we want to know that the goals we invest our time pursuing will yield more than the praise and admiration of others, but will please and honor God.
The good news is that we don’t have to adopt what the world says is urgent as our expectations. Facing a moment of choice—a conscious decision about whether to lean in to a goal or drop it—can become a triumph we choose to abandon what has little meaning and make room for what matters. We move from a place where we feel the fear and frustration of being overwhelmed, to an opportunity for authentic happiness and a sense of God’s purpose in our lives to begin. Making such a shift will go against norms, but it will also refresh your soul. It will quench your thirst for meaning and joy in your everyday life. It will restore a sense of control and purpose.
What external expectations make it difficult for you to control how you spend your time? What meaningful uses of your time most often get pushed to the a place of insignificance?
What promise does God give you in Matthew 6:31–34 in terms of focusing on what is of value to your time and attention?
What first step can you take to put God’s priorities first in your life?