My friend Lee left me this comment on one of my posts (you know the one with a story of a professor who talks about the things that fit into a jar):
Nice message. It’s only too easy (maybe more so for men) to have only 2 contents in the jar, pebbles and sand. Instead of golf balls I may fill my jar with only a few tennis balls as any free time is spent with my immediate close family, I need to make an effort to visit my parents, brother and sister, and further extended family. People I sometimes come across in my work life make me forget that I actually work to live and don’t live to work!
Lee and I work in the same organisation so I am going to avoid talking about specific people, but how true he is. Work is about work for so many people, they are focussed on work and little else. But I believe that there is so more to life than that. I have been trying to formulate my thoughts over a few posts, these are all under the “My Time” category.
As part of studies in to my mission statement I recently listened to a sermon from Knox County Vineyard in which the Pastor references studies about happiness during retirement for people who volunteer.
It’s one of my objectives to “Devoting my time to the service of others and in so doing discover God’s purposes for the Cross of Jesus Christ”. I’ve not set myself this objective in order to get a happy retirement, I have set it because I believe that it is the call of the Christian to serve others. But it’s interesting to note that God honours those who connect with His purposes (even if they don’t know they are).
Someone just sent me this, it kind of fits with my current thoughts.
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar…and the 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He asked the students if the jar was full.They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly, and the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full; they agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things: your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favourite passions, things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter–like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else: The small stuff.”
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just filler.”
One of the students raised his hand and enquired what the coffee represented.
The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”
Having defined a bit of a mission statement for my time; how would do I assess my level of achievement? Well that’s quite an interesting thing to do. Because it would be completely wrong to try and assess the number of minutes spent doing each thing. Because I actually don’t want to measure myself on doing, I want to measure myself on connecting.
Connecting with God’s purposes is not something that you do, you have to be something to connect with God’s purposes. But, having said that, there is a doing element to it. You generally do not connect with God’s purposes by sitting around and waiting for them just to come along and hit you.
So in my personal life? Well in school terms I think it’s a C-, which in English schools would be a pass, but only just.
I mange to spend time on my own considering God’s purposes. Reading the Bible to see what God has done for others, trying to understand the eternal truths held within. But there is a sense that there is more to do and that my nature of ‘just enough’ is prevailing.
Anyway it’s late, so I’ll go away and ponder some more.
How do I invest my precious time and do I invest it in the correct way. It’s a huge multifaceted question. The start of the question has to be another question and that is “what am I here for?” From a Christian perspective there are a number of way of phrasing it, the one I like most is “connecting with the purposes of God” but that’s more like a vision statement than a mission statement. So if I was to derive a mission statement from that vision statement what would it say.
Vision statement: Invest my time to connect with purposes of God.
So what are the purposes of God? Well, as with so many things in the Christian life, some of the things the Bible tells us explicitly other things God leaves as a bit of a mystery for us to discover. There is no doubt that one of God’s purposes it to reveal Jesus through Christian people. But the ways that God wants to do that He leaves as something for us to discover. There is no doubt that God wants to transform lives by revealing Himself to them. But the way that God wants to do that He leaves as something for us to discover.
So is it possible to derive the vision statement into a mission statement? Well I’ll have a go.
It is my mission to invest my time in a way that connects with the purposes of God by:
- Devoting my time to discovering the mystery of God’s purpose through study, prayer and mediation and in so doing discover God’s purposes for me as an individual
- Devoting my time to my wife and children and in so doing discover the purposes of God for the family
- Devoting my time to the service of others and in so doing discover God’s purposes for the Cross of Jesus Christ
I believe that by investing my time to discovering the mystery of God’s purposes I will myself become changed through the journey. The reason I believe this is that I also believe that God doesn’t create these mysteries as a cruel game. God creates these mysteries because he wants to connect with us in relationship. He wants us to invest our time in knowing Him. The mysteries of God’s purposes reveal something of His character and in taking the journey to discover those mysteries we connect with that character in a way we could never do if it was simply given to us on a plate.
What is a flower worth?
What is a sparrow worth?
What is a house worth?
What is a relationship worth?
Many people believe that it is money that makes the world go round, but they would be completely wrong. it’s relationships that make the world go around.
My immediate biological family consists of Sue, Jonathan, Emily and myself. But I like to think that we have a much more vibrant view of family than that. Family is really about close personal relationships that last through thick and thin. I have a biological brother who I love dearly, but I also have a friend who I have known for more than 20 years who I could discuss anything with and has been with us as a family through the best and worst of times. I thank God that I am surrounded by a rich set of relationships.
For the last few weeks I have been taking Jonathan to a climbing lesson at our local leisure centre. it was his birthday present, and that in itself says something about him and the type of person that he is. I have no part in these lessons for me it could be a dead hour but it’s not. I go in the gym and create lots of sweat. The great thing is, the gym is on the first floor (or second floor if you aren’t British) and has a huge window looking into the climbing room. So although we are in completely different rooms we are still connected, we are still in relationship. Jonathan has two choices at this point. He could completely disown me (because I’m not that pretty a site in the gym), but he doesn’t, he climbs up the wall either side of the window and peers in looking for me. He’s looking for a response, a relationship response. I also have a choice, I can decide that he is embarrassing, but I don’t I give him the biggest thumbs up I can possibly give and off he goes up past the window to the top of the wall. Later on when I am trying to cool down a bit I go up to the window and look in. Again, he could disown me at this point, but in front of the rest of the people in there he returns my thumbs up.
It’s just a simple example, but it’s an example of the pricelessness of relationships.
And just as I am finishing off – in comes Emily and gives me a big kiss and says ‘good night’. Priceless.