What a Waste!

What do you think of when you hear the word waste? Trash? Food that is thrown out? Efforts that don’t bear fruit? Conversations that land on deaf ears? Addicts? Frivolously spent money? Unused goods?

As this year of 2014 begins I have been convicted of waste in my own life. My primary problem  is wasted time. I find myself busy on my computer doing something positive and productive, and then decide to take a few minutes to play solitaire. Before I know it, I have wasted fifteen minutes on nothing. The time is gone, never to be replaced.

I am certainly not advocating forsaking leisure or fun entirely, but how much is too much? When is it wasted? My pocket dictionary defines the verb waste as “to use up needlessly, fail to take advantage of, or wear away.”  In my case all three apply; I fail to take advantage of way too much time by using it up needlessly, allowing it to wear away when I do have productive and kingdom-building things I could be doing—and need to be doing.

What has my wasted time replaced? Maybe that is the question to ask when assessing our priorities. Have I spent good quality time with God? Have I used my time to serve others with the gifts that God has given me? Have I been faithful to the work that I am responsible to do in my family, home, and workplace? Have I procrastinated on my to-do list?

Bad habits are difficult to overcome, but replacing them with better choices helps a great deal. When I think about wasting time, I want to replace it by accomplishing something specific.

I had a flat tire a couple of days ago and was stuck waiting for a tow truck for hours. My first thought was, “Why did I delete the Solitaire game off of my phone?” Of course, I know why; I took it off so that it wouldn’t be a temptation to waste time. But then I remembered that I had my Bible and Bible study material in the car with me. I was able to get ahead in my study and enjoy a great afternoon with God. I wasn’t even upset with the people who were supposed to send help because my time had been both positive and productive.

Perhaps you don’t waste time but you waste resources or you aren’t using your gifting to serve others. Whatever it is, talk to God about how to avoid the temptations that lead you there and build new habits to replace those that trap you up.

Kay is a life-long Texan whose favorites are Tex-Mex, books that feed her soul or make her think, good movies and travel to new places. Her great joy is to serve God by teaching the Bible and developing women as servant-leaders. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Beyond Ordinary Women Ministries, which provides free videos, podcasts and articles as well as low-cost Bible studies to prepare Christian women for leadership. (beyondordinarywomen.org) Kay spent ten years leading women’s ministries on church staffs, most recently at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas. Kay is the author of From Ordinary Woman to Spiritual Leader: Grow your Influence, a practical guide to help Christian women influence others by applying foundational leadership skills to their lives and ministries, and a number of Bible studies for women, some are available at bible.org and the newer ones are found at beyondordinarywomen.org. Kay earned an M.A.C.E. from Dallas Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Effective Ministries to Women. Kay’s family includes a husband, two grown children, one son-in-law, two hysterical granddaughters and a Goldendoodle.