About two years ago I sat in my office with my wife, as tears welled up in my eyes,. I said the words out loud that I had only thought. It had swirled around in my head however; I never had the nerve to speak the words. Had I spoken it, these dangerous thoughts would be way too real. I said to her, if I could find another job that would provide for my family I would take it. I would leave my church and my job as a youth pastor, and never look back. I could hit the reset button and walk away from a life I had grown to hate. It is fair to say this would be filed under one of the “bad days”.
I am a husband, father, son, student, and a youth pastor. At that moment in my life, I hated most of these people, and felt as if I was failing at many of them. I had lost control of my life. As my wife listened, she reassured me that my feelings were not true, though she validated my need for change. She recognized that my life, and ultimately both of our lives were out of control. It wasn’t until I spent some time with a trusted mentor that I was able to begin seeing out of this massive hole I had dug for myself, my family, and even my ministry.
He challenged me to do one simple thing. Pay attention to my life. Track what I do for every minute of my day in thirty-minute chunks for two weeks. Write it down and evaluate it. I was either going to do it or I would be putting together a resume to find a new life. At my core, I love what I do and feel called to it, so I stayed and fought. I am glad I did. This mentor did not look at my time log. He just asked the right questions and allowed my “time budget” to reveal truth in itself. Like when you track what you eat or what you spend, this exercise revealed much. Here is an overview…
80/20 Rule ::
Similar to an actual budget of money, much of what we have in finances is already allocated to cost of living. We have that same “cost of living” in our time. I have to sleep, drive to work, help get the kids ready for their day, and work 40-60 hours a week. All of these activities take time. How efficiently I do each of these activities is a different conversation for a different day. When I step back and look, there is about 20% of my time that I have the freedom to shuffle around. Instead of being discouraged that I am unable to get away for days on end, I need to take control of that 20% of my life and intentionally use it for my benefit.
Step Back Evaluation time ::
After two weeks I noticed that I allowed my life to happen to me. Nowhere in my time did I step back and assess. I didn’t plan or think forwardly at all. This resulted in too many moments of panic, disorganization, and more chaos that I really want to handle. As a result I am now waking up 3 days a week an hour before my kids get up to just sit and ponder, think ahead, and allow the silence to prepare me for a life that is pretty chaotic. I have also injected time away as a youth pastor and husband with my staff and wife.
Lack of Spiritual Presence
I was tempted to act differently during my tracking time because I knew that it would be revealing, but I wanted to learn from my time so I didn’t fake it. If I was not inclined to spend time with God I didn’t do it. I wanted to see the “holes” at the end of this experiment and if I spent time with God just so I could mark it down on my budget it would have ruined my true intent. That being said, I need more time with God. I am at a spiritual dry season right now where I am not inclined to seek out God so it needs to be intentionally placed in my life. It is ultimately for my own benefit and His glory. In time that dryness will dissipate. For now, it is necessary.
Be intentional about “wasting my time”…make it count.
Have fun with this one because everyone needs to blow off steam. It is up to you as the person who knows you best to decide how you are going to go about doing that. My loves are many, but what refuels me is only a couple things. 1. Time with safe people (wife, dear friends). 2. I need to travel to new places (doesn’t need to be far, it is just the experience). 3. I need to be physically active (love it and hate it all at the same time). Too often I release pressure by sitting in front of the TV because it is the path of least resistance. That’s not good enough. If I want to watch TV, that is fine but pick a show and watch it. Don’t allow the TV just drain hours on end away from me and leave me empty and just as tried. TV is the fast food of the time world. It feels so good at the time, but does very little for you over the long haul.
Selfishly, I pray that this is one of those moments in my life that I look back on as a turning point. So far it has been…