Is time the ever hunting predator or a special gift? Some individuals fear each day as one’s life draws closer to its end. Others see time as a precious gift to be utilized and appreciated for the moment. Different mindsets can establish different life styles. One can live in fear or one can better utilize the time that God has given to them. Ultimately, what we discover after our 20s is that time starts to go faster. This realization is not only due to a more established work schedule but also because the brain is learning less and experiencing less new things. When younger, time seems to be forever. Ever remember how long it would take for Christmas to arrive, but now it comes too fast? A younger brain perceives time differently than a more mature brain and because of that as we grow older, the years seem to go faster.
So is time a predator? Time is what we make of it. As temporal beings, we are in an intimate relationship with time that we cannot escape. Each second, each minute, day, month and year coincide with each breath, thought and action. Unlike God, who existed before time and exists outside of time, except within the Incarnation, God experiences each year simultaneously. Each decade and each century are spits in a bucket to the eternal nature of God. They exist side by side, witnessed and reviewed. Since temporal creation is within time, it is subject to time and we must learn to accept our limited temporal existence and maximize its fruits.
Jesus relates in Matthew 25:14-30 the story of the servants and the talents. Each servant according to their standing and ability were given coins by the master. The first servant was given 5 coins, the second 3 coin and the third 1 coin. Upon a certain amount of time, the master returned and asked what the servants had done with the coins. The first had doubled, the second had added, and the third presented no growth. Instead, he horded it and buried, only to return to it to the master. The master furious, sent the servant away.
What can we learn from this story? Jesus was teaching that we must produce in this world. We cannot horde our talents or gifts or waste precious time. Time is limited and to sit on gifts and do nothing as time passes is not acceptable. Instead we are called, even with very little, to show progress with the time given and spiritually grow and give back. Those who waste time, fear time, or neglect their talents are misusing the gift of time. Instead they fear it and progress with very little success in life.
Many experience this type of fear in life in middle age. Those who have stagnated in life, revert back to past impulses and see their lack of fruits, while those who have worked hard, have a far easier time with aging. Aging with success and accomplishment is key to self esteem but it is also key to spirituality as well. As we grow, we hope by middle age, we have also grown spiritually with God. When we reach a ripe old age, if God wills, we should be able to look back with joy and happiness not despair and regret. Those who work hard in life and do not waste time will bear fruit. Many who show healthy aging have accomplished a variety of goals that Erick Erickson divides into 8 stages of human life. When these stages are not met, then despair, sadness, and regret and regression emerge. Wasting time in life, playing and not advancing physically, professionally, academically, mentally and emotionally is not only spiritually damaging but also psychologically damaging according to Erickson.
A far simpler analogy is the story of the Three Little Pig. In the children’s tale, we see lazy and industrious mindsets and how one leads to safety and prosperity while the other leads to folly and danger. The pig who plays the flute builds a straw house and wastes his time playing and not working, while the pig who plays the violin with him spends time building a stick house. While the stick house is more sturdy, it nonetheless is still destined for failure. Upon the arrival of wolf, he classically blows the houses down. The two run to the eldest brother, who did not play or wasted time, but employed the use of the shovel to build a strong brick house. Ultimately, at least in the cartoon version, they find refuge with the older brother and defeat the wolf.
So time itself is something that needs to be properly utilized in life. No matter the age, doing things right and within the time given are keys to success. Today, many youth seem to stagnate in their 20s. There seems to be a new norm that life does not start till after college. This leads to stagnation for many. Instead of working harder, younger people party harder. They seem to play the flute more than work the shovel. Maturity seems to be coming later than past generations. Families are made later in life with career goals prolonged into the distant. Time though is of the essence. It is still good to see young adults pushing forward in marriage and work. Sometimes these commitments, even if in school, strengthen people. By placing faith in God, making commitments and growing up sooner is not a bad thing. It may not be meant for all but the 20s should not be seen as a time to learn morality and make mistakes but to grow and mature academically and in the faith. It is a time to foster relationships and if called to marriage, to find that special someone. Late vocations to marriage and the priesthood or religious life are fine, but sometimes, individuals tend to waste time as an excuse to face responsibility in the world. Sometimes, the youth need a push of encouragement instead of a safe place to waste time.
Those who appreciate time, appreciate now. They appreciate family and friends and make time for them. They realize the preciousness of duty in work, school, family and God. They ensure that those obligations are met and not wasted in sloth, gluttony, drunkenness, frivolous spending, and material things. Instead they cherish goals, duty and love of God and family. Through this, they appreciate each day and week and what it means to live and accomplish things. All things are offered to God as prayer. Even in the smallest things, life itself becomes a prayer. In this way, the return is great for the master unlike the servant who buried his coin.
Time management is key. Once one understands that they need to utilize time better, then they are able to make real life changes and give back to God. The first step is prioritizing life. Duty to God, family and career need to be labeled universal objectives. Things that take away, or prevent these duties and goals from being accomplished need to minimized, replaced, or given a certain time of week. It can be very beneficial to divide the week up into days and list particular duties whether home, work, family, or to God. Create a list and as things are accomplished to particular days, cross them off. This can be very rewarding and the brain is known to send a feeling of pride and accomplishment. Hence calendars, and duty lists can keep someone accountable but also allow them to see the progress.
As for longer term goals, one needs to address what one wishes to achieve it. One can do research during a phase of time and then start to bring the research to application and work. One should assign a certain amount of time it would logically take to accomplish certain goals, both professionally and academically. One can then have a rough outline of where one wishes to be in one year in comparison to another year in regards to goals.
Again, the most critical element is living each day and completing it. Giving each day to God as a prayer and finding value in what matters most in life. Appreciating the finite reality of time and what exists in one’s life now may not exist later. Appreciate, love and give praise to God each day for what is good and then pray to God to help one achieve what needs to be done in the future.
Much can be said about utilizing time properly. Yes, there needs to be balance. Too much work and no relaxation can be damaging to the body and mind, but one needs to be conscious of time and appreciate it but also realize that no day is guaranteed. Christian Counselors, pastors and spiritual directors can better guide young people in the proper direction of life. They can point towards goals and duties and how important it is to offer to God everyday, one day at a time. They can remind the youth of the value of time and how to be a proper steward of it.
Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.
New King James Version. Matthew 25:14-30. Bible Gateway. Access here
“Teaching Time Management to Teens: Less Stress, More Balance”. Baum, R., Shahidullah, J. (2023). HealthyChildren.org. Access here
“Stop Wasting Time: How to Live Life to the Fullest”. Becker-Phelps, L. (2022). Psychology Today. Access here
“How to Stop Wasting Time”. Baby, D. (2023). WebMD. Access here