BIBLICAL MANHOOD IN THE MARKETPLACE: HONORING GOD WITH OUR TIME
One hundred sixty-eight hours. In concept it certainly seems an adequate amount of time to accomplish everything one desires to do in a given week. And yet, most of us find ourselves going to bed on Saturday nights thinking about all of the things that we left undone during the prior seven days. If you find yourself in this position frequently, it’s likely that you either have unbalanced priorities, are guilty of time squandering, or both.
It was 8 o’clock one Thursday evening when it finally dawned on me that I was entirely out of balance. I was reading Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal to my two toddlers and fell asleep right about at the part where Little Sal and Little Bear get mixed up on different sides of the mountain. It’s not that I fell asleep for the night (though I had done that before), it was just one of those quick dozes where I quickly woke up with my boys asking me why I had stopped reading. I finished the story, prayed with them, and kissed them goodnight. I wandered downstairs where my wife was waiting patiently for me to have dinner with her. Because I had only arrived home from the airport at 7:30, we had yet to talk about anything, and she was anxious to hear about the week.
The week had been long. It started like every week, Sunday morning in church and Sunday afternoon spending time together as a family. But once the alarm beeped on Monday morning, it had been nonstop. First it was a 14-hour day at the office, where my colleagues and I debated the macro drivers of vacation demand in Europe and price elasticity of non-essential goods. At the time, I was working for one of the world’s most prestigious consulting firms, and the work was always frenetic.
Tuesday morning came early, as it always did on travel days. A 7:30 flight meant leaving for the airport at 6:25, which meant waking up at five-o’clock-something. As a platinum flyer, I took pride in having shaved every minute possible from the airport routine – park close, use the fastest lines, and NEVER check a bag. But despite being a solid half-hour faster than the unsophisticated traveler, there was no way to make a plane fly any faster. To be in Miami for a morning meeting, the day had to start early.
The week flew by. Our team worked Tuesday and Wednesday nights until midnight, but by Thursday morning was ready to present to the CEO of our client. The analysis was solid, the recommendation clear, and the audience pleased. It was high fives driving back to the airport to catch the afternoon flight back to Atlanta.
By 9:00 that night, my wife and I were discussing alternative career options. Something with a bit more – balance.
Balancing the desire to be a self-fed Thessalonian
One of the things that make the Bible such a fantastic book is its ability to relate to everyone. All of us are different in our backgrounds, personalities, and areas of sinful behavior. And yet just as the Gospel is uniquely relevant for all mankind, so too is Christian admonition suitable for every believer. And lest we take a verse, bend it out of context, and use it to suit our own desires, the Bible is rich with point-counterpoint consonance. For example, the Bible clearly puts forth a soteriology themed by grace alone. And yet, it then addresses the complaint of antinomianism. But not stopping there, it also condemns legalism, just before it reminds us that good works are the proof of grace. Impressive, yes?
The concept of labor is no different. God created work ever before sin entered the world (“God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it’” Gen 1:27). The Proverbs esteem diligent labor done with integrity. Paul went as far as to tell the church at Thessalonica not to give food to those unwilling to work. And yet, there is balance in the greater context of scripture that establishes boundaries to what it means to work.
Might I list a few:
Psalm 5:3 – In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice.
Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 – These words … shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Hebrews 10:24-25 – Let us … not forsake our own assembling together.
The list could go on, but from these alone I see guidance to spend time with God, with my wife, with my children, and with my church. How can I effectually do these things if I am spending the entirety of my sane hours working?
Establishing a proper ambit
A beauty of the Bible is that it is specific where required, yet general when allowed. This allows us practical instruction, but also freedom from legalism and burden. With that said, allow me to share the guidelines that I have established to best obey the commands referenced above. Though these specifics are not necessarily commanded in scripture, I do believe they allow me to be obedient in the broader commands that have been given.
No work on Sundays. Period
I’ll let the seminary guys debate New Testament application of the 4th commandment, but I’m convinced and convicted that Sundays need to be a day of worship and rest. For me, that means no work related to my profession – no calls, no emails, nothing. I made this a hard and fast rule before I ever started my career, and it has made subsequent decisions easier. Rather than debating Sunday work every time an ‘emergency’ arises, I’ve answered the question once and for all up front.
Time with God and time with the saints
In my organized way of structuring a week, slotting some 20-minute slots with God seemed a good way to grow in my faith. And yet, it carried a flawed assumption that growth only requires a Bible and a chair. I do not want to take away from the importance of alone time with God – it is the most important growth enabler. But ‘quiet times’ are merely table stakes. What about fellowship with other believers? Evangelism? Corporate prayer? The Christian life should not be lived only internal or only external. It must be holistic.
Family time cannot be limited to weekends only
At some point I lulled myself into thinking that as long as I spent all of Saturday and Sunday with my family, I was being obedient with regards to loving my wife and raising my children. In reality, the notion is based on faulty logic that assumes all hours are equal and sequencing is not important. This same logic would say that I should sleep for 56 hours to start the week and then remain awake for 112 consecutive hours. Let. Me. Know. How. That. Turns……….
The annals of self
This is only an account of one man’s attempt to please God with his time. In the first paragraph, I raised two concepts – balance and dissipation. My issue was balance. But maybe yours is different. I challenge you to ask God to show you how you can better honor Him with your time. I can tell you from experience that it’s worth finding out.
Jordan Broggi lives in Atlanta, GA, with his wife Maureen and their four wonderful children. They are members of Church of the Apostles, and most Sunday mornings can be found teaching 3 and 4 year-olds the Gospel in room 304.
Jordan is a graduate of The University of South Carolina and Harvard Business School, and works in the field of Corporate Strategy and M&A.