Even the good things I add to my schedule can potentially become time-suckers. Time-suckers are the things I waste time on — the things that after three hours I ask myself, “What have I done all day?” I’m not dissing rest; the Bible clearly emphasizes the importance of rest and Americans are often guilty of being much busier than we need to be. Giving into time-suckers, however, is not restful. Time-suckers can be more emotionally and mentally draining than a good day of labor. Simply put, time-suckers suck my life away. Donald Miller writes in Blue Like Jazz that the “greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time.”
When I was in college (a few years before the PC was released, let alone the distractions of Internet) television was my biggest time-sucker. These were the early years of Cable TV so one kid would pay for Cable at something like 18 bucks a month and then he’d splice and string wires out his dorm window to anyone who would like to share the expense (totally illegal, un-ethical, dishonest, and sinful). By the end of the first month of school, Cable Dude would have 126 wires running from his window and we’d each get Cable for a little over 14 cents a month. That 14 cents was well-spent on my part because I could sit for hours watching re-runs, first-runs, and never-should-have-been-run-the-first-place television shows. Cable TV made procrastination easier and procrastination put me on academic probation within two semesters. Cable TV wasn’t the problem: I was born with a sinful nature, so I’m a natural slacker.
Because I was born with a sinful nature, I cannot make myself better in any form or habit. I need God’s forgiveness and restoration through Jesus Christ. And when it comes to goal-setting, my effort definitely needs God’s help. According to Mike Ashcroft, effective effort requires “remaining in a focused position for a length of time while depending on God’s ability to do in you what you cannot do for yourself.”
I quit making New Year’s Resolutions and goals a couple of years ago. I’m now starting my second year focusing on My One Word. The idea is I choose one word focusing on self-growth or improvement that goes beyond the surface but deep into my character. Then, I depend on God’s help to become a better, less self-centered person. That word becomes the lens through which I develop priorities and make daily, moment-by-moment, decisions. I like focusing on one word each year because it brings focus to my actions. The one word I choose gives me focus while God gives me strength and hope.
The 2014 word for me is “intentional.” Throughout each day, I plan to ask myself why I’m doing what I’m doing so I can eliminate the time-suckers. I’m not a naturally kind person so I hope, also, to become more intentional in showing God’s grace to others.
Calvin G. Roso © January 2014
Check it out: http://myoneword.org