Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cramming Too Much Into Life?

Have you seen these people when you travel? They are determined to get the case that they should have checked into that little spot in the overhead compartment so they shove and shove and then pull the cover down and slam it several times until it finally latches?

I've literally seen where parts of their case were still hanging outside. Ugh!

But sadly, I also encounter a lot of struggling families where a parent or parents are in the same way trying to stuff a little bit more into the compartments of their lives. They rarely say 'no', they never stop and evaluate the worth of adding one more thing and they certainly haven't paused to think about what is really most important in their worlds.


And yet we all have similar tendencies at times. How many special moments have been missed because we simply did too much? How many lifechanging, legacy - leaving conversations never happened because we just rushed by the people we love the most? How many picture postcard opportunities were lost because we just didn't have the time?

Let's face it. The culture is never going to change. The options for our kids, for ourselves and for fun will continue to increase by leaps and bounds. If we're going to slow down, we must simply decide to do it. It won't be easy but it will be worth it. Less is always more.

In fact, the greatest example of someone who chose limits for himself even though he didn't need to set them was Jesus. Here was God-in-the-flesh who chose to limit his ministry time to 3 years out of 33. He didn't heal everyone, speak to everyone or even see everyone. He took time out of his day to simply be alone with God and pray.

One time when a friend was dying instead of running there right away he stayed where he was longer! If Jesus could change the world in only three years and not do everything we might consider doing the same. Someone wisely said, "Jesus already died for the world. We don't need to do it again."

So where do we start? First, write down the most important things you feel you need to do or focus on? Then write down how much time you give to actually doing those things. Most people find that they spend way less time on those things than they thought and are simply caught up in the tyranny of the urgent. Start re-working your schedule, a little at a time, so that what you actually do mirrors what you believe are your priorities.

Second, say "no" more. We just can't do everything. And neither can our kids. Slow down. Give yourselves some margin. Leave regular spaces for time to breathe, think, play and refresh. You may not get an hour everyday but how about fifteen minutes for starters. How about taking a half-day every month that you wouldn't normally take and just turn the rest of life off in some way.

Go through your list of current responsibilities and drop a couple of them. Do you really need to do them or are you just trying to please someone? That ministry or group will go on without you, trust me.

Third, make a commitment to not add one more thing without dropping another. I do that with my personal library these days. I have way too many books to carry around or store any more so when I get a new book I get rid of one I already have. Usually it's a book I never look at anyway or one that someone else or a library I know about can use.

In fact, finding more time for life is like licking the beater blades. My wife knows that I just love it when I get to sample the dessert she's making so she'll bring the blades over for me to get my taste. I sit there sometimes for five minutes just scraping a little of the brownie or cookie mix onto my finger and then into my mouth. But when I do that I know that I'm getting a taste for more of the same.

In the same way as you find more time to slow down, reflect and enjoy the most important things, you will likely get a taste for more! So start your time taste testing now and it will be well worth it.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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