Do you ever feel like you’re just wasting your life and time away?
History is full of men who made the most of their time in this world. Take John Calvin, for example. He was 26 years old when he wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Or how about David Brainerd? He was merely 29 years old when he died for his faith as a missionary. You’ve probably heard of Jim Elliot. But did you know that he was only 25 years old when he left the comforts of his American life to evangelizing the Aucas in the Equator? This story is dramatically told in End of the Spear.
The best way to make a massive impact on your life and for the Kingdom is to not waste your time! We’ll look at 10 practicals ways to do this, but first, let’s look to the man who these tips came from.
Charles Spurgeon [biography] knew how to live wisely. He was a British pastor in the 1800s known as the “Prince of Preachers” for many good reasons. One of his life examples is don’t waste your time. He was a man of intense focus, committed to putting Jesus first.
37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Spurgeon didn’t waste his life on secondary pursuits. He kept the main thing, the main thing:
“To preach the Gospel myself, and to train others to do it, is my life’s object and aim.”
What can we learn from Spurgeon? What can he teach us about making the most of our lives and not wasting our time? Here are ten tips from one of the most productive pastors in history.
10 Tips So You Don’t Waste Your Time
1. Utilize your mornings, don’t waste them!
I know of no greater time to utilize that is more wasted by the masses. When I think of “don’t waste your time” this is my first thought. I’ve always been a morning person, but I know that many are not. The temptation to sleep in is real and sleep is important but, when you think about, those few extra minutes or hours are really eating into your productive time.
“[Spurgeon] had been known to begin as early as four o’clock in the morning, when very busy.”
“It is so sweet every morning for the hands to do a little that they could not do yesterday, and for the feet to be able to walk a yard or two farther than a few days ago.”
Here are some tips for making this useful:
• Set an alarm
• Drink a glass of water
• Read your Bible and/or a devotional
• Do a quick workout routine
• Plan your day if you haven’t already
• Do some work that helps you feel accomplished
2. Use your energy, don’t waste it!
A huge part of utilizing your morning is the fact that your brain gets going and your energy spikes. If you use the tips above, your body will be awake and your mind alert. Most people, however, waste this precious time and energy. This is further compounded with poor eating habits and sedentary workspaces.
“Where there has been little sweat there will be little sweet.”
“Stick to it and succeed.”
“It is not so much our business to be weeding other people’s gardens as to keep our own vineyard.”
3. Don’t waste your mistakes
We all sin and make mistakes [check out this Making Mistakes post!]. We absolutely need to lay these at Jesus’ feet and ask for His forgiveness knowing that He loves us and desires for us to run to Him.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
“In reforming any wrong habits, no time is like the present. Sin grows stronger by age. Do it now, says he, and backs it with fear of death. Sin must not be endured. Out with the traitor.”
After we have repented we need to learn from these mistakes and sins. If it’s a bad habit, learn how to fix it. Learn what the triggers are. Learn why Jesus isn’t as fulfilling to you as He should be!
4. Use your brain
We’re not all going to be brainiacs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use our God-given brain as a tool to learn from nature, history, and God. These things are so important and shape our worldview. These tips actually work off of each other. As you use your brain, you learn from your mistakes, utilize your morning, and stop wasting your energy.
“As with tens of thousands, my first acquaintance with Mr. Spurgeon was through his books.”
“To us it seemed that there was no great book, or noted writer of ancient or modern times [Spurgeon] was not acquainted with.”
5. Don’t waste your work
Our work, no matter the station the Lord has put us in, can and should be unto Him. We often want to clock in and clock out as quick as possible and go mindlessly through our workday. This limited view of your work is so wasteful! There are so many opportunities in most work environments to live as an example for Jesus, grow in your character, and witness to co-workers or customers.
“While we live let us live. There are no two lives accorded us on earth. If we build not now, the fabric can never be built. If now we spin not, the garment will never be woven. Work while ye live, and live while ye work.”
“The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work; I felt very wearied and sore depressed, when swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash that text came to me, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
6. Use your gifting
God has wired and gifted us all in different ways. We may look at someone else’s gifting and despise our own, leading us to waste our own time, talents and gifting. What a shame when this happens! God made you the way you are for a reason, for His glory!
“If you cannot preach, you can pray. If you cannot pray aloud, you can plead with God in secret. There are many who cannot preach, but who can give; and there are others, who cannot give, who, nevertheless, can speak a word here and there for the Lord Jesus Christ. There are plenty of weapons waiting for you if you have a mind to wield them.”
7. Don’t waste your sacrifices
King David was a man acquainted with sacrifices.
But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing.” 1 Chronicles 21:24
The Lord enjoys our sacrifices as we do them with the right heart, not a religious spirit. The key is to not waste these sacrifices. They are a chance to glorify God by choosing Him above earthly pleasures. Don’t waste your time and sacrifices!
“Things which cost no pains are slender gains.”
“It magnifies his mercy if we can bless and adore him when he takes as well as when he gives.”
8. Don’t lose sight of your family
A family is a blessing! Whether we are talking about extended family or the little unit within our walls, they are a gift from God, yet we often give them the least of our time and energy. Don’t waste your time with your family! Love your family well by being present and spending quality time with them.
“I desire to bless God for giving me, as one of His choicest gifts, my own dear, precious wife.”
“Mr. Spurgeon loved his wife with a tenderness and intensity of affection I have seldom known equaled friendships.”
9. Don’t waste your relationships
Relationships take time and energy to build. These people that we grow and do life with are more valuable than we realize. Had we the opportunity to see what life would be like without them (think It’s a Wonderful Life), we would be amazed at their impact! Don’t waste your time by not pouring back into the lives of your friends. Don’t take without giving back.
“There was no man in London that loved Dwight L. Moody more than Charles Haddon Spurgeon.”
“[Spurgeon] loved to show his friends round his gardens and then sit in a summer house and converse with them, or occasionally play a game of bowls.”
10. Utilize your free time
We all have moments or blocks of time that are free. It’s key that you don’t waste your time when you get it! These could be used to rest, brainstorm, plan, play, etc. Just don’t waste this gift of free time!
“The time that a man spends in necessary rest, he never reckons to be wasted, because he is refreshing and renovating himself for further exertion.”
“He would read books of the most abstruse character as a recreation, and in a single day would often master the general arguments of several works.”
Laziness, according to Spurgeon, doesn’t belong in a Christian man’s vocabulary.
“If you plan to be lazy, there are plenty of avocations in which you will not be wanted. But above all, you are not wanted in the Christian ministry. The man who finds the ministry an easy life will also find that it will bring a hard death.”
Spurgeon’s fifty-seven years of life orbited around one solitary goal:
“To raise the dead is our mission!”
What can we learn from Spurgeon, Calvin, Brainerd, and Elliot? Don’t waste your time! Let’s make the most of our lives, knowing that God, who calls us and made us men, equips us for success.
“It is not a small gospel that he has sent us to preach to small sinners, but ours is a great gospel for great sinners.”