If I’m being completely honest with you, I’m a pretty selfish person. I’m selfish with my time probably more than anything else, but in general, I could be described as a selfish woman.
Mom, I know you’re reading this and taught me better. I’m sorry.
Now that we’ve gotten true confessions out of the way, let me tell you that it’s something I’m actively working on. At the beginning of the summer, my pastor started a sermon series called “The Best is Yet to Come” and asked us to write down three things that we want other people to be able to say about us. Number three on my list says, “Her time is not her own – she is available and pursues time with others.” Our church staff collected those cards and then mailed them to us at the end of the summer, and I’ve been amazed at how God has stretched me in these three areas, but especially in the area of my time and how I spend it. I’ve taped the card to my mirror so that I have to see it every day and am reminded of the importance of making time for others.
It’s because of the card on my mirror that I volunteered to work in the nursery at church a few weeks ago.
It’s because of the card on my mirror that I talked to a younger woman about mentoring her last week.
It’s because of the card on my mirror that I turned the TV off to have a conversation with a friend.
At the end of my life, I want people to say that I made time for them and that I sacrificed for the sake of others. No one is going to be crying over the fact that I knew everything about this season’s “Dancing with the Stars” when my life is over. I want my time to have mattered.
When we look at the books of 1 & 2 Timothy, we see Paul’s relationship with Timothy and the personal nature of the letters. We know from history that this relationship wasn’t brand new – it was well-established and had taken place over the course of about 20 years. Paul writes in a personal way to Timothy because he knew him. These two men had walked through a season of life together, and it’s obvious. This came about because Paul made time and Timothy was willing. In the introduction of each book, Paul refers to Timothy as “my true child in the faith” (1 Tim 1:2) and “my beloved child” (2 Tim 1:2). When Paul writes to Timothy about godlessness that is coming in the last days he says, “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant…” (2 Tim 3:2). Being a lover of self is considered godlessness. Ouch. This is a huge call for us to make a change. He’s admonishing Timothy, and there’s a lot we can learn from this challenge.
Shifting your perspective to focus more on others comes at a cost. It’s going to cost you things like time, money, and energy. It means that something is going to get put on the back burner. It’s causing me to think ahead and make decisions that aren’t just about today and right now. Our culture demands instant gratification, but God doesn’t work that way. Relationships aren’t forged overnight, and cultivating them simply takes time.
As you look at the next few months, what changes could you make to focus less on yourself? What are some ways that God is prompting you to focus more on others? Our call as Christ followers is to steward well the time and resources that we have. Maybe it’s time to make a list of things you want others to say about you. Today is a great day to start.
Mary Margaret Collingsworth is an event project coordinator at LifeWay in the women’s events area. Follow her on Twitter @marymargaretc.