NEW YEAR, NEW OPPORTUNITIES: Making the Most of Our Time
The beginning of each new school year is always so exciting. The smell of fresh paint and clean rooms awakens our senses to a fresh start. It is exhilarating to reconnect with colleagues, make new friends, and welcome the smiling faces of students who are delighted to be back in school! One thing I love about education is no two years are alike. With each new year comes new opportunities. As believers how can we make the most of the time we are given?
Before we tackle this question, let’s agree on a few undeniable facts about time.
1. Time is short.
It’s easy to think we have all the time in the world, but we all know tomorrow is not guaranteed. David reminds us (Psalm 39:4-5) that our lives are fleeting, and our entire lifetime is a mere moment to God. James (James 4:13-14) says none of us knows what the future holds. We are simply a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Even if we live into our nineties, the time here is considered minimal compared to eternity. Time is short.
2. Time is finite.
We can’t alter time. Once it is gone, it is gone. We cannot retrieve it, and we cannot add to it. God orchestrates time through the seasons of our life (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), and His plan for us will succeed (Proverbs 16:9). Time is finite.
3. Time is valuable.
Given that time is short and finite, it is logical to conclude that our time here is valuable. In fact, time is a gift from God, and we should desire to be good stewards of the time allotted to us (Psalm 90:12). There never seems to be enough time in the day to accomplish all we want to. Time is valuable.
Honestly, the whole concept of time can be frustrating to talk about. I can’t count how many times I have said, “I just don’t have enough time.” If you are like me, saying this out loud or to yourself can create some angst and frustration in your spirit. It often causes me to lose focus and can become an excuse for letting opportunities pass me by. Ouch! That is hard to admit!
If we can agree time is short, finite, and valuable, then let’s use this new year as an opportunity to make the most of our time. Paul has some good advice on how we can make this happen.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)
There is a sense of urgency in this statement from Paul. At this point in his life, he had been beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, and imprisoned. The brevity of life was real for him. I don’t believe he ever took a day for granted. I pray none of us comes close to mirroring Paul’s experiences, but I do believe this verse can help us navigate the struggles we all face when it comes to time.
There are some different translations of the phrase “making the best use of time” that I found helpful.
NIV:Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
KJV:Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Taking this back to Paul’s original intent, the best translation seems to be redeeming the time. The word redeeming means “to purchase or buy up.” This is in reference to a merchant who, knowing the value of an article and the good use to which he can put it, buys it up. Think about it this way. Which is of more value: spending an hour scrolling through social media or an hour with a parent who needs additional support? I realize this is a drastic example, but Paul is telling us that making the most of our time requires us to live with a constant awareness that the clock is ticking. We can either spend our time on the frivolous or the eternal. This is what he is referencing when he says, Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.
Life is full of distractions, and if we are not careful, those distractions can control us. This verse challenges us to stop and reflect on what we are doing.
· Am I being careful and cognizant of how I live?
· Do I recognize and seize opportunities to glorify God in my daily life?
· Am I discerning God’s direction throughout my day?
· Am I being wise with the limited time I have been given?
· Do I recognize the evil around me and run from it?
At this point, you may be wanting to wave the white flag! Given all of the varied opportunities that fall into our laps each day, how do we prioritize them? How do we make the most of our time? The answer can be difficult for educators because our days are often filled with uncertainty. However, I have some thoughts on where we can start.
Prioritize your time with God.
Time spent with God and getting to know Him through reading His Word and prayer is never wasted. I’m not talking about knowing “about” God; I am challenging us to really “know” Him. We want to know His thoughts, hear His voice, and discern His will. This doesn’t happen if we don’t spend time with Him. Do not sacrifice this. It is the first step to making the most of your time.
Love and serve others.
Time spent loving and serving as Christ did is time well spent (Hebrews 10:24–25, 1 John 3:17–18). We all know this is a non-negotiable, so let’s seize opportunities to love and serve others. It might be as simple as helping the custodian pick up trash left in the hallway or giving a struggling teacher a hug. Small acts of kindness can speak volumes. However, we have to intentionally look for these opportunities, or we will miss our chance to love and serve others.
Share about Jesus.
Time spent sharing the Gospel is never squandered time. Witnessing to others in word and action yields eternal fruit. To share our hope in Christ is a privilege! I realize this has to be handled delicately, especially in public schools. We are limited in what we can say to students, but when the opportunity arises to give the reason for our hope, we need to be ready to respond (1 Peter 3:15)!
We can’t go wrong with these three. Making each of these a priority will help us discern what needs to stay in our lives and what needs to go. I have found over the years when I trust God with my time, He seems to make everything work out. I seriously don’t know how He does it, but He does!
Let’s ask God to help us make the most of our time. We can begin every morning by committing our day to the Lord and asking Him to help us do something that day that has eternal significance. By beginning our day with eternity in mind, we become more aware of spiritual prodding in our hearts. We will look for ways we can honor the Lord, help someone else, or utilize our time in productive ways. On the way to school, we can sing praises to God. Taking roll, we can pray for our students. At lunch, we can express interest in someone we do not know. After school, we can call a parent to brag about their child.
Live as if each minute counts—because it really does (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). This new year will be filled with new opportunities! Let’s make the most of our time!