Day 3: Finding Time
There will be barriers that prevent you from living out your mission statement, but don’t throw in the towel early. You should expect hindrances in your path. Hindrances brought you to this point. The accumulation of those hindrances caused you to want something different for yourself to pursue a different way of doing life.
When you decide to take the next step, to move beyond staring at your mission statement and actually put it into action, you need to clear out any obstructions that might encumber your movement to a simple life.
Review the mission statement you wrote on yesterday (week 2, day2). Does it say all you want it to say? Ii you knew you didn’t have much time to live, would this statement move you to where you want to be?
Let’s examine some of the obstacles that threaten to keep us from fulfilling our mission for our use of time.
Our lives are the culmination of our choices. For most of us, it is by choice that we were put into a time crunch, and it will be by choice that we get out of it. There’s not a magic wand we can wave to eliminate our hectic day. We have to be willing to come face-to-face with whatever stands in the way of our mission statement and to decide to eliminate it.
We hope your life has been characterized by great decisions. But we also know that, like us, you have probably made some choices that weren’t the best, some from which you are now suffering. That’s fine. We all make mistakes. They are some of life’s greatest teachers.
Identify a choice you made that is now interfering with your priorities in life.
Working too much
Overly committed to your social life
Meeting your kids’ every demand
One of the great things about choice is that by choice you can reverse a previous decision. The course of your day hinges on your decisions. With courage and wisdom you can make decisions that eliminate your time burdens.
68% of the people surveyed would change their day if they could.
Recall the story of Martha, Mary, and Jesus. Wanting to be a good host, Martha fretted over the appearance of her house and meal preparation for her guests. But what might not seem like a bad characteristic quickly became a hindrance: she failed to see what she really needed. Martha busied herself so that she could appear as she wanted to be
seen, not as Jesus wanted to see her.
In two sentences Martha revealed that her work was about more than just meeting the needs of her guests but actually focused on herself: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to give me a hand” (Luke 10:40). It had become all about her.
Self-absorption hinders our moving into a simple life. We are convinced that this life is about us and our appearance. Much of our time is spent trying to create an image that says, “I have it all together.” From our looks, to our careers, to our lifestyle, to our children, we want to be the whole package. And our time becomes filled with things that
help us reach that elusive goal.
List ways you spend your time that are designed to
enhance your image or reputation.
When we dig down deep and ask ourselves probing questions about the time we spend on our activities, the results can get ugly. We begin to realize that we treat ourselves as the center of our universe. Asking ourselves, “Why?” and truthfully answering that question helps us uncover the underlying purpose behind many of our actions.
° Why do I work so many hours?
° Why are my children involved in so many activities?
° Why do I spend so much time at the gym?
° Why am I on so many councils?
° Why do I volunteer so much?
Select a question in the previous list that applies to you
and answer it honestly.
Our drive to become the perfect human with the perfect family and the perfect career creates self-imposed barriers that limit us from achieving the simple life. We have to figure out what is truly necessary and what is just an outflow of our ego. Those who are able to keep their egos in check will find it easier to achieve a simple life.
Dealing with the Past, Fretting About the Future, and Forgetting the Present
It may be that we have erected barriers to achieving simplicity to protect ourselves from our own insecurities. Many of us fill our days with time-consuming activities so that we don’t have to face who we really are.
Mark, for example, is a highly successful executive, but that isn’t enough. You see, Mark grew up with a hypercritical father. Nothing was ever good enough. His dad never really made it past middle management, and that bothered him. Mark’s dad often took out his frustration and personal disappointment on mark. Mark never heard his dad say, “I’m proud of you, Son.” Mark’s dad didn’t find joy in his own accomplishments, so he resented Mark’s successes. l\/lark did everything to try and win his dad’s approval, to the point of becoming a workaholic.
But the approval never came.
Mark’s dad passed away last year. Now Mark is still trying to prove himself to a father who is gone. He just wants to be good enough.
ls it wrong for us to be concerned with the future and to reflect on the past? Absolutely not. The past and the future are important, but their importance has limits. When we become overly concerned about the future, we concern ourselves with the unknown. When we try to overcompensate for the past, we try to break away from something that
can’t be changed. Those who do not find some type of compromise in their schedules will create obstacles to a simple life. They will till their days with too much activity, trying to achieve the unachievable.
Identify anything in your past that motivates your use of
Identity any fear about the future that motivates your
use of time today.
Don’t let the concerns of the past or future swallow up your time. Find perspective and give appropriate attention to them. Remove what may hinder a simple life. Move forward in the present.
Review your mission statement on from yesterday. Remember, it must be an action plan. It must reflect intentional movement. Look at where you are now in the use of your time and where you want to be. What barriers prevent you from simplifying your life?
Check any that apply and note others below.
Regret over the past
Fear about the future
Does your mission statement address some of those
barriers, either implicitly or explicitly? In what ways?
You’ve identified some areas in your life that may be impeding the movement of simplifying your time. You know you need to remove some things from your life but may be unsure which ones to focus on. Remember, your mission statement is your guide through this journey. Select just a few barriers to start with. Choose one that will be easy and one that might be a little challenging. Don’t become overwhelmed with deconstructing the day you used to experience. Allow time to adjust as you remove each obstruction.
When you adjust, it’s time to start looking for other obstructions that are preventing movement during your day. Continue to get rid of these until you are free of all that inhibits you from realizing your goals. You will gradually move closer to the simple life.
Toward the end of Deuteronomy, the leadership baton passed for the Hebrew nation. Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, followed a fiery cloud, and presented the Ten Commandments to the nation. Next up was Joshua, who had a deep faith that God would deliver the land to the Israelites as promised.
Read Moses’ charge to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:7-8:
“Moses then summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you will go with this people into the land the LORD swore to give to their fathers. You will enable them to take possession of it. The LORD is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged’ ” (Deut. 31:7-8).
What would he Joshua’s source of strength and courage?
Joshua’s physical endurance
The Hebrew army
Moses promised Joshua and the nation that God would go before them Because they could rely on Him, they didn’t need to be afraid. As you develop clarity for your time, realize that you have a God who goes with you. He wants the very best for you and wants to see you succeed in making this part of your life simpler. Time was never meant to be a burden but a blessing. Each breath we are given is a gift from God. A reliance on Him is essential to moving you toward a simple life.
Removing or minimizing barriers isn’t easy. Pray that God will give you wisdom to know which barriers to address and the strength to move toward their elimination.