I’m in ministry. I’ve been in full-time ministry to students for over 26 years. The last thing I want to feel like while I’m doing ministry is that I’m doing time. I just walked in, not 5 minutes ago, from my car where I parked in the parking lot of the church building I drive to each day. As I walk toward the building which holds my office as well as the spaces I routinely gather with students I love and serve, I have a recurring thought:
“I’m not doing time.”
What I want to address before my day even really begins (more on that in a sec) is the danger of looking at my day as something other than another opportunity to exploit any chance I get to invest in the lives of others for the good of the gospel. That flows easily out of my fingers dancing across the keyboard, but its truly where my passion lies. It takes a thousand different complexions every single day, but when it comes right down to it, that’s my passion: I want to exploit any chance I get to invest in the lives of others for the good of the gospel.
Time is a weird thing isn’t it? No. Not really. It’s the result of creation in motion. If we weren’t in motion, there would be no time. If you’ve had high school science you already know that. Time is relative to motion. (Shout out to Einstein for unearthing that gem.) Because we are a created universe in perfectly calculated motion, we have this thing we call “time”. We measure it in nanoseconds all the way to eons. The more common scoops are what we refer to as minutes, hours, days, and months.
Time is both unbiased and also limited. Unbiased in that everybody gets the same amount of hours in a day to do with what they choose. But limited in the sense that you don’t know when its up. Not one person knows exactly when time has run out for them. So this makes the commodity of time all that more precious, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t it?
So, back to me walking toward this building. I consciously think–no–demand that my attitude be that of someone who is intent on leveraging the time I’ve been gifted. And let me be super transparent. At times I suck at that. I mean seriously. Suuuuuck. Just yesterday if you had peered into my open office door at around 4 pm, you would have literally seen me standing at my desk (not one of those trendy stand up desks, by the way) just rotating. I was caught in this loop of not knowing what I was doing or supposed to be doing or focused enough on anything to be doing it. So for a very few seconds, if you had caught me in that moment you would have seen Jerry slowly spinning in a circle while my brain tried in futility to grasp onto a coherent, directional, purposeful thought.
I’ve been reading a lot lately. And that’s not really normal for me. I’ve finished three books this month which is superhuman compared to my normal self. I’m not ashamed (okay, a little ashamed) to confess to you that it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I read a piece of literature from cover to cover. That book? Hamlet by Shakespeare. I absolutely LOVED it. Still do. To this day, anytime I wish a conversation would end, or someone would simply be done talking, or even when I get a little irritated my private thoughts scream, “Get thee to a nunnery!” It oddly fits so many situations and it quietly puts a smile on the part of my brain no one sees.
But lately I’ve been studying a lot about goals, passions, time strategies, and stepping into new ways of thinking. (Two other books I’d like to suggest to you are “Soundtracks” by Jon Acuff and “The Dip” by Seth Godin.) Just this morning I plotted out my “Green Zone” which I learned about from Carey Nieuwhof’s book “At Your Best“. As I write this, I’m in my own Green Zone; that time of day when I am sharpest, most creative, most clear-minded, productive, and alert. Most people have 3-5 hours a day like that–a handful of hours when they’re at their best. And as a person who is creative by nature, I want to do my writing (one of my favorite creative mediums) when I’m at my best. Thus this very blog post I’m writing right now. I’ll be tweaking this over the coming weeks, but my initial assessment of my high, mid, and low energy levels in a typical day look like this:
I might be late to the ball, but I’m waking up to the importance of identifying the times when I’m most awake. And that will help save me from “Doing Time”.
Now, you have your own rhythm to your day. And whether you plot those rhythms out like I did or not, I do think it’s wise to do what you can to identify when you’re sharpest and do the most important work then. My next step is going to be the very easy task of listing common responsibilities that fall into the categories of “high”, “mid”, and “low” level. I plot my day out, assigning tasks that demand sharpness to the hours when I’m sharpest. And no offense to you if you’ve ever written me an email, but I don’t need a ton of creative juices flowing to respond to emails, so I’ll relegate email to around 2-3 in the afternoon. You see how this works?
Okay, so let’s wrap this up. My point here is that I don’t want to live a life where I’m mentally “doing time” and calling it living or ministering or husbanding or dadding. I know there’s a lot more to say about this, but I’ve got plenty more to do in my high energy hours and I’d better get to it.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions!