Publication: One-to-One, Winter 2009
If you’re like most Americans, you closed out 2007 with a 30-40% hit on your investments. How to invest your remaining funds is likely-and should be-on your mind. As we re-incubate the nest egg with another “failsafe” strategy, we should also be remembering the most precious resource we have to invest; time.
I want to say upfront that this is not really an article on time management tips; there are plenty of good writings already available on that subject including a few topic threads on CSM’s online discussion board. This is also not an evaluation of the subject of time which gives the same sensation as lying on your back at night and staring into the cosmos. Time is a mystery not to be solved here, but to be revered for its investment power and understood as God’s creation, which He holds as a tool in our transformation. It will never get a bailout, but it will be redeemed.
“I AM” OUTSIDE TIME
The Architects of Time” is the seductive tag line of a renowned Swiss watchmaker. If this article were an interview with the self-proclaimed “architects” maybe we could get to the bottom of questions such as “What did ‘In the beginning’ look like?”, “Is time travel possible?”, “When did the dinosaurs come into play?”, and as a bonus question, “Where does your company see itself in the next 2,000 years or so?” You get the point. I’m sure they make fine watches.
To invest our time wisely it is important that we should consider our time context. In our limited understanding of time, we give it attributes such as “Time is on our side”, “Time flies”, “Time stood still”, “Time will tell”, “Time marches on”, and “Time will heal.” Perhaps these ascribed traits are in fact intrinsic to its design. We should realize however that the hands of the clock serve the Designer of time itself, and not any other end. “Father Time”, the charming old guy who married “Mother Nature,” is an example of mankind’s inadequacy at times, to see beyond creation to the Creator.
The real Architect of time is no more bound by time than a bird house builder is confined to his birdhouse. Like the sparrow, our capacity to grasp this is limited. From our Time Crafter’s vantage, all of time is open to Him. He can enter time at any time. His Word to us is timeless because He is able to speak from where time is not. He offers, in a moment, salvation beyond a lifetime. He is the Appointer of time and time is really on His side.
TIME AND MONEY
We hear it often: “Time is money.” But how much is it worth? Considering that time is constantly being spent (whether we invest wisely or not), cannot be saved, is limited, and we don’t know when it runs out; what on earth is more valuable? Time and money are both measurable and investable, but time is the better measurement and the best investment.
All too often we spend money to compensate for our poor time investments. “My prescription medicine will fix my (fill in the blank) because I didn’t invest time in my diet and exercise.”, “This iPod will fix my relationship with my child since we haven’t spent time together.” And my
favorite …”These new golf clubs will bring out my ‘A’ game since I didn’t take the time to practice.” The same holds true at work. “I would have made the sale if I’d invested the time to know my product or my client’s needs”, “We’re in the red because we never took the time to budget or project cash flow”, “It sounded like a great investment at the time, but I never considered the business plan.”
TIME FOR FRUIT
Investors on Wall Street know that when the bell rings, their investment opportunity window for the day has closed. From Big Ben to our daily planners, we are conscious to measure time. But no matter what the “beam me up crowd”, the “Doomsday predictors”, or the cuckoo clock may say, only the Architect knows what time remains in store. Those stuck on this issue will be left behind in productivity.
Not to put a damper on joys of the Jake and the Fat Man TV marathon you may have watched last night, but we have to face it: money we can save, but to gently disagree with Jim Croce, we can’t really save time; bottle or no bottle. Our man on the street says, “Sure, I can save time…l know I saved at least 3 minutes yesterday taking the shortcut.” Hurrying does not equal saving time. It’s not as if you’re going to live to be 103 because you knew all the short cuts. In fact, it may have the opposite effect. The hurried approach (a.k.a. poor time investment) usually reflects poor preparation on the front end. Yes, we must learn to utilize time, but under-allocating time investments because we had “other things to do” and expecting to hurriedly make them up later is not sustainable. Preparation is a consistent, on-going time investment that yields transformation. This is fruitfulness. As followers of Christ along the Kingdom road, we are in preparation; being transformed with God’s grace from glory to glory.
We hire investment planners for our asset allocations because we want to maximize our investment potential. We weigh our risk tolerance, age, desired retirement lifestyle, look at charts and graphs but what about our time portfolios? Along with our money, everything is vying for our time. Family, friends, work, the synchronized swimming team, Area 51 memorabilia, 1960s horror films, and trivia. Judging from its fruit, there could be a strong case made for Americans to reevaluate their time expenditures over the last 60 years. Education rankings, credit card debt, and divorce statistics are not witnesses we want called to the stand. We have our work cut out for us.
Recently, my friend Dr. Lawrence Bedsole did something that only 38% of Americans do at least once a year. Along with his wife, he invited some friends over for dinner at his home. The friends happened to be me and my wife. In conversation, Lawrence commented “that we’re losing the sense of accomplishment taken from being a master in whatever it is that we do as individuals and as a calling. Bragging rights seem to be based now on how much you CAN do as opposed to how much you excel at what you SHOULD do or were called to do.”
There is no way to cheat time. Wal-Mart is not selling “flux capacitors” last time I asked for a price check. There is, however, a way to make the most of time if we are willing to be obedient to its Creator. Who else could lay out a better time portfolio for us? Time is at His side. He has allotted the time for your transformation; for you to become a master in your calling, and He is able to redeem that which is lost.
As you consider where you will spend time in 2009, remember there is no better time investment than in people. Remember this at work and with those God brings into your life. If there ever was a way to compound time-this is it.
JONATHAN SIMPSON is a frequent contributing writer to CSM’s Marketplace Exchange.