I recently came across another book on productivity that I decided not to read. Sometimes I want to waste some time doing all the things that seem unproductive. I want to sleep in on a Saturday morning. I want to take a walk in the park with my wife, not to exercise but for fun. I don’t want to accomplish anything on the walk; I just want to walk. I want to stop trying to accomplish something. I want to waste some time and do nothing.
I am going to say something and risk being completely misunderstood: waste a little bit of time every now and then. Productivity is overrated. I am so busy all the time trying to be productive. I have goals, but maybe wasting a little bit of time occasionally is a good thing.
Often, Christianity can feel like wasted time. Prayer doesn’t seem to accomplish anything. Reading Scripture requires patience and practice. Sometimes I don’t know in what way the passage I am reading applies to my life. Sometimes I hear a sermon at church and learn nothing new; I hear the same gospel I already know. Was this wasted time? Is it a waste of time to try to understand the extent of Christ’s love for sinners? Is it a waste of time to go to church and experience the same old thing and hear the same old story about Jesus death and resurrection? Is singing hymns to God a waste of time? Is talking about Jesus with a friend who is constantly struggling with the same old problems a waste of time? Christianity often feels like a waste of time if you are trying to be productive.
The people I meet who are most concerned with productivity are too busy. They are hard to talk to. Their mind never seems to be where their body is located. They are always thinking about what has to be done, and never thinking about what they are currently doing. They are never satisfied, never content, and always striving for something more. The author of Ecclesiastes has something important to say about how people spend their time:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Eccles. 3:1–8)
I am sure when I look back on life my wasted time will turn out to be the best time I ever spent. Life is filled with unexpected moments that feel like wasted time. Maybe the most productive thing I can do is trust that God uses even our wasted time for his good purpose.
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