At some point in my college career someone told me, “Use your time wisely because you’ll never have this much free time again.”
I laughed and said “okay,” but was really thinking of how busy I was as a full-time student who was highly involved on campus, working part-time, and volunteering with my local church.
Looking back, I understand the comment they made.
It’s not that I’m necessarily busier today, I just have different responsibilities. I have a marriage that takes work and effort. I have a job that requires more hours. And believe it or not, I must go to the grocery store and cook because there’s not a campus cafeteria to eat at every meal. Every day I have to partake in all the fun things that make up adult life.
I have less free time to use however I want, but I still give my free time to the same things because I think they’re really important for God’s kingdom and my soul.
When I first started college, I wasn’t committed to attending church on Sunday or the college small group on Wednesday nights. I didn’t think I had the time, or to be more honest, I chose to give it to other things.
After a couple months, I realized the reality of my priorities and made a change. Every Sunday morning and Wednesday night quickly became blocked off on my calendar. Over time, my Tuesday afternoons were designated to serving with a youth organization and I became one of the college small group leaders.
I committed to community and serving.
It would have been easy to sleep in on Sunday, plan something with friends on Wednesday, or pick up an extra shift on Tuesday, but I actually looked forward to these things throughout my week. And I still do, just in a different city with small group and Student Ministry on different nights.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. – Philippians 2:14-16
I was able to live differently than those around me on my college campus and hopefully give them a glimpse of God’s love and grace. I was able to share the goodness of God with junior high students that I would have normally never crossed paths with. And I did it all with a Gospel-centered support system around me.
We have countless opportunities to be involved in God’s mission, we just have to step into them.
Don’t book up your free time so much that you don’t have time to love and serve your family and friends.
In college, I made sure I had good quality time with my friends. Time away from studying or walking to class to really check in on them. Sometimes conversations were light, like how classes or relationships were going, others were heavy as we talked about mental health struggles and sin. I wanted my friends to know I was there for them always, regardless of the topic or time.
While I still carve out one-on-one time for my friends, I can also love them with my spouse beside me. Over the last couple years, my husband and I have had several friends who have had babies, so we support them by bringing them a meal, offering to pick up groceries, or watching their little peanut so they can get out of the house baby free.
I serve my people in these ways because that’s how God has gifted me, some of my spiritual gifts being exhortation and hospitality.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Maybe being a shoulder to cry on or cooking aren’t your things. But God has gifted you in your own unique ways that can be used for his kingdom and in the lives of those around you.
Though the main focus of this article is on time, I think it would be a big miss not to address another really important resource: money.
Growing up, my parents taught my brother and I to tithe. I had a childlike understanding of it at the time, but I guess it always felt like a rule, not an act of obedience, and definitely not with proper heart posture.
Fast-forward to when my tithe became more than a couple dollars and suddenly it became more difficult to let those dollars go.
I worked hard for my money and still didn’t feel like I had that much of it. How was I supposed to just give some to the church?
The number in my bank account acted as a security blanket. But I was clinging to the wrong thing.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Matthew 6:24
Money can only give me a false sense of security, but it will always fall short. God is my ultimate security and provider.
At times, it seemed to take a crowbar to pry open my fist. I had to teach my heart and mind to relax and recognize that anything I was holding was put in my hands by God first. I also had to keep the gift of salvation that was freely given to me in its rightful, centered place. Now, I joyfully give to my Savior who gave his life for mine.
Each stage of life requires a rebalance of how we use our free time and resources, but it’s not an excuse to stop being involved, available, or generous. You might just have to do some extra planning and pray for God to open your eyes and heart to the opportunities around you.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:10