Pastor Bob spoke today on the value of our time and the need to “invest” it wisely.
One comparison he used was to the stock market. One way he used this illustration was to say that time must be invested wisely, in order to get the expeced return. This is much like investing in the stock market, where unwise investing practices rarely lead to a good return. We also need to learn to invest with a big picture. It would be the unwise investor who buys stock and always immediately sells it. Instead, value and return comes through taking risk over time. Investing our time is like that, too. Return when we invest our time is sometimes something that takes a while to develop. We may not even see the full ramifications of our time investment this side of heaven.
The illustration is fine, though I found myself considering an area where investing in the stock market and investing our time are very distinct. When we invest in the stock market, we expect a like (though not equal) return. Money invested generates, in the long run, money. Time invested does not usually return time (in equal measure or otherwise). Time invested generates either spiritual growth or stagnation, healthy or broken relationships and glory or dishonor to God. It also can lead to wisdom or foolishness. Time invested yields an un-like return.
All this talk of “investing” time relies on us understanding that we are always investing. Whether what we are investing in is good or not, we are investing. And there is always a return. It may not be what we’re hoping for, of course. But when we invest in what God has called us to invest in, we can expect a good return. There is no risk. That is, no risk of not getting a good return. But we will very likely risk our safety, our comfort, our goals…
At the end of the sermon I left with the following thought: Managing our time is not about packing more into the day, making space for a longer task list. It’s about using the time to accomplish the right thing – the thing that God is calling us moment by moment to do. Sometimes that requires setting aside blocks of time for things like prayer, reading the Bible and building relationships. But often it means living with our time as a permanent offering to God. So service is not just something planned into the schedule, as if we only serve God when he has an appointment with us. More often – in fact, every day – we are called to serve God where we are. That might be talking to a colleague at work about what God is doing in your life. It may mean comforting a stranger at the park. It may mean lingering at the coffee-counter to share the gospel or it could mean arriving home late because you helped someone with a flat. When God calls, we need to be ready to serve.
That is investing our time wisely.