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Do You Suffer From A Poverty of Time?

poverty of time

What do you think of when you see the word POVERTY? We typically think of material poverty, in particular the lack of food, shelter and the necessities of life. You may also think of Jesus’ description of spiritual poverty in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. These indeed illustrate poverty. But there is more. We live in a day of overload and overcommitment. Because of that, some now speak of the POVERTY OF TIME: our inability to stop, to slow down, to process, reflect and sabbath.

Whenever you and I say “yes,” that means we must also say “no,” but we seem to  keep saying yes.

Take This Poverty of Time Survey

WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU took time to make a meal from start to finish and actually had time to enjoy it, to savor every bite and to reflect on the blessing of food? What is the ratio of doing that to the number of times you grabbed fast food?

HOW MANY TIMES in the past month have you texted someone to say you were running a bit late? (Check later—you don’t have time now.)

WHEN DID YOU LAST take a nice, hot shower and not be in a hurry? Or even better, a bubble bath?

WHEN WERE YOU LAST in slow traffic and you did not mind? Have you ever been there? Yes, it’s too rare for me, too.

WHEN IS THE LAST TIME you opened your Bible, and took a nice, slow time in prayer, reflection and study? When have you started reading the Word with no thought of what’s next in your schedule? When have you simply been lost in time spent with God?

Do you value time with God, time to rest and reflect, as much as you value money, accomplishing a task or checking off a to-do list?

In our bountiful culture, many today value time more than money (raising my hand). You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. One study found 28 percent of people surveyed made voluntary changes that resulted in less money to have more time. Millennials, when given a choice between a job that makes more money and one that provides a deeper sense of satisfaction and purpose, generally choose the latter. Good for them.

We can be at a good place financially and still suffer from a form of poverty, a poverty of time. Are you starved or strained emotionally from an overload of scheduling? What might you do to alleviate this poverty of time?

If our schedule stresses more than satisfies, we need to stop and assess. If our “Christian commitments” mean our spiritual disciplines regularly suffer, it’s time to reconsider our time.

This week, or very soon, schedule a block of time for margin, time to think, to imagine, to read the Word with no agenda. Create margin in your life, and you will see joy result. I know; I’ve done this myself.

“Don’t prioritize your schedule; schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey

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Alvin L. Reid (born 1959) serves as Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two children: Joshua, a senior at The College at Southeastern, and Hannah, a senior at Wake Forest Rolesville High School. Recently he became more focused at ministry in his local church by being named Young Professionals Director at Richland Creek Community Church. Alvin holds the M.Div and the Ph.D with a major in evangelism from Southwestern Seminary, and the B.A. from Samford University. He has spoken at a variety of conferences in almost every state and continent, and in over 2000 churches, colleges, conferences and events across the United States.