Lent 2013 - Vol. 66.

Honoring God With Our Time

by Elizabeth Grace Saunders

Your time is your life. As a time coach and trainer and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment, recently published by McGraw Hill, Iíve spent a great deal of my time thinking about how to empower people to live holistically successful lives.

As members of community, we have committed to a certain way of life that naturally leads to investing our time in certain ways. For instance, regular times of prayer, group accountability and support, and one-on-one mentoring happen automatically through prayer meetings, menís and womenís groups, and pastoral meetings. However this increased number of commitments, particularly if you participate in one or more areas of service, can make investing your time in other important areas of life more difficult.

Each community and each person has slightly different needs and challenges. But in general, Iíve noticed both through participating in Word of Life, in Ann Arbor, and through visiting communities on five continents that itís important as individuals and families or households to intentionally make time for these key areas. Iíve listed out some suggestions of how we can encourage one another in living balanced, God honoring lives.

Health & Wellness
Adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition can often be pushed aside as mere fleshly considerations that must be sacrificed for a higher cause. While during certain seasons, we may be called to such sacrifices. In general, not investing in proper health and wellness leads to an unsustainable pace and drastically reduces the quality of life for community members. 

Here are some ways we can support one another in the area of health and wellness:

  • Watch the end times of group meetings so that we can support those who need to rise early in getting an adequate amount of sleep.
  • For those working in university outreaches where late meetings are inevitable, avoid early morning meetings.
  • Encourage one another to take the vacation time permitted by our jobs even if the holiday is taken at home.
  • If practical, walk during pastoral meetings to increase both spiritual health and physical health.
  • If someone in your menís or womenís group desires to have a more healthy lifestyle and wants accountability, make room for talking about areas like physical exercise as part of sharing times. 
Primary Relationships 
If you live a highly structured and/or busy life, you may end up doing many things with the people around you, but not actually connecting with them. Maybe you went to a committee meeting with your husband or wife but never had the opportunity to find out about a contentious conversation he or she had with a colleague that day. Maybe you spent the day with your son at a youth event but never gave him enough space to tell you how someone picked on him at school. Maybe you celebrated the Lordís Day with your housemates but never found out that one of them just found out her mom has cancer. If weíre not careful, we can become completely estranged from the people around us in the hustle and bustle of life. 

Here are some ways we can support one another in meaningful connection:

  • Encourage one another in having regular husband-wife meetings or house meetings. See those as times not only to talk through practical concerns but also to share about any significant happenings in one anotherís inner or outer lives.
  • Make time to connect with your family and friends on a regular basis. For instance, my family has weekly conference calls where we dial in from around the United States and share our latest updates. I have regular meetings with close friends either in person or over the phone to make sure that Iím keeping in touch in a meaningful way.
  • Pay attention to any changes in those around you and if something seems off, ask about it. Many times people get neglected because their way of indicating something is wrong is not to make a big fuss but to retreat. Be aware of those behavioral changes, and donít shy away from asking if anything has happened. 
Solitude and Contemplation 
God doesnít need our works, but He longs for our affection. Iím pretty convinced Godís primary love language is quality time. If you do all the service in the world but neglect spending time with Him, you hurt His heart and miss out on the richness and abundance of life that He longs to give you. 

Here are some ways we can support one another in keeping our first love first:

  • Give one another time and space to think and pray. Particularly in household or family life, there can be a tendency to think that constant interaction with one another should trump all other activities. However, respecting one anotherís needs for solitude is one of the best ways that we can encourage one another in our faith walks. To help in this cause, you could set up regular times when a member or members of the family are not to be disturbed from communion with God.
  • Aim to have at least one evening a week without any organized activity. This allows time and space to recalibrate, catch up on life, and to gain perspective on what you should or should not be doing.
  • Help one another in going on regular retreats. This could look like making it possible to attend a menís or womenís retreat or it could look less formal like going to a retreat center or even a hotel every three to six months. Although this may require some special logistical coordination and extra expense in the short-term, in the long-term it will lead to a richer, more centered life. 
As community members, we have the blessing of having much of our time investment naturally aligned with a life in pursuit of God. But by keeping the above points in mind, we can do an even better job of fostering a healthy, sustainable, balanced, Holy Spirit empowered life together. 
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a member of the Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Elizabeth is a time coach and trainer (www.RealLifeE.com) and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress. Her book is available in bookstores and on Amazon in hardcover and Kindle editions. 
Living Bulwark (c) copyright 2013  The Sword of the Spirit
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom
email: living.bulwark@yahoo.com