Time is a limited resource. Once a moment, an hour, a day or a year has gone, it’s gone forever. There seems never to be enough time to do everything we want to. Time is therefore extremely precious.
Long ago in my secular employment, I gave my work all the time that was due to it, but no more. The rest of my time was split between church activities, family & friends, and myself. There was a clear difference between work time and free time.
When I was in fulltime ministry, my time was my own in the sense that I had (theoretically at least) a lot of control and flexibility over how my time was spent – whether in pastoral care, worship preparation or the inevitable meetings. Yet, though I had control of my diary, there were huge demands on my time and it often felt as if the use of much of my time was outside my control. There were no longer clear boundaries between ‘work’ time and free time, and I often, irrationally, felt guilty when I ‘switched off’ and did something just for me.
My years as Synod Clerk were different again. I was paid for a set number of hours per week, though the work never fitted into those paid hours and often spilled over into my ‘free’ time and was spent on Synod duties. The distinction between work time and free time was again blurred.
Now that I’m retired from paid employment, all I have is ‘free’ time! My time is entirely my own, in the sense that I have no employer to account to for my use of it.
One of the key questions for me over the last few months has therefore been how to make best use of the time that I now have at my disposal? How much time should I spend on church work? On family and friends? On hobbies and interests? Given that time is such a precious resource, how should I balance the giving of my time to God, to other people and to myself? And that’s a question that I suspect applies to most of us, whether we’re in paid employment or not.
I long ago realised that my commitment to Christ was not to be equated to my work for the church. All of us can serve Christ as faithful disciples in ways that have nothing directly to do with the church and its concerns and activities. For example, many of us spend time working for charities and serving other people in a multitude of ways. Yet, at the same time, the church needs people for a variety of tasks. Again, it seems to me it’s a matter of balance, and using the skills and talents each of us has to best advantage.
I’m not sure I’ve yet found the proper balance in the use of my (retired) time: maybe it’s something to be constantly reviewed and tweaked. In the meantime, I try to give an appropriate amount of time to City while retaining time for other areas of service, for other people, for myself and some just for fun, and I encourage you to do the same.