Saving time?

While living in Collegedale, Tennessee, I was elected president of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, headquartered in Calhoun, Georgia. Rather than moving, I chose to endure the 45-mile commute from Collegedale to Calhoun.

I decided to reduce the normal 45 minutes of driving time by increasing my speed. This was easy to rationalize. Wanting to be a “good steward of my time,” I shouldn’t waste a lot of time unproductively on the highway. Figuring that I was a safe driver, I felt I should be able to drive a bit faster than the speed limit. And so I did.

One day I met a police officer who didn’t share my convictions about the importance of my time or my driving skills. He gave me a ticket for my excessive speed and counseled me to slow down.

As I reflected on the event, I calculated what I had actually been able to accomplish by my speeding. It wasn’t impressive. The speed limit for a 30-mile stretch of my commute was 70 miles an hour. Let’s say for the sake of discussion (just for discussion, you understand) that I drove 80 miles an hour instead of 70 miles an hour for those 30 miles. The actual time I would be saving would be five minutes.

Is that really good stewardship of my time? Is saving five minutes worth the stress and danger of the extra speed, to say nothing of the ethical wear-and-tear of blatantly breaking the law?

Do we really save all that much time by driving recklessly? If we look deeply inside our own psyche, we will find that other motivations less noble than “good stewardship” push us to drive too fast. More often than not, it has to do with machismo or poor planning rather than real concern about our use of time.

Stewardship of time isn’t about squeezing “productive” activity into every moment of life; it’s about putting meaningful life into each activity.

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8, NIV).

By Gordon Bietz

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