Money

It’s about time

Jonathan Cho // August 13, 2020, 5:52 pm

IT'S ABOUT TIME

We’ve all heard it said before that “time is money”.

Well, to be more accurate, I think we sell time for money. It is more obvious for professional services which charge an hourly rate, but equally true for all those who sell time (and other resources) to employers in exchange for a fixed sum of money monthly.

But in reality, time is just currency. That’s probably also why we use language like “spending time” and “paying attention”. 

Now, if we do believe there are things that “money can’t buy”, my question then is this: What are these other things bought with?

My guess is that most of them are bought with time.

What if we allow ourselves to be fully awakened to the reality that there are certain things that can only be bought with time?

All that to say, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I spend my time and what I have invested it in.

Most of us spend our time in exchange for money. It’s simple: we all need financial resources to survive, so it makes total sense to sow the majority of our time into reaping the returns of money. Right?

But what if we choose to think and live more radically with the currency of time in our hands? What if we allow ourselves to be fully awakened to the reality that there are certain things that can only be bought with time?

Making the most of your time

I recently went for a run (this takes place a lot less than I hope) and around the midway mark, I found myself thinking: “I wish I could just go for a long extended run once – one which would address all my physical health needs for the year.”

Wishful thinking, I know. But then it occurred to me that we all understand this intuitively – no further explanation is really needed.

We all know that you can’t just go for a run one evening or do one massively intense workout and expect to lose all the weight you hope to, or wake up fit as a fiddle with your heart in splendid condition.

No, it takes a regular investment of time to achieve a certain measure of physical fitness and health. There is simply no substitute, no short cut. 

The same rules apply to relational intimacy.

We may fall prey to the illusion of suddenly and quickly growing close to someone because of one evening of an extended heart-to-heart-talk, but no.

Knowing everything about a person overnight is not the same thing as knowing a person through the years. As I get older, I know this to be increasingly true – depth in friendships and relationship come only with time.

Whether it’s growing plants, building a city or one’s personal character, these things all take time. These are just some of the “other things” which can only be bought with time.

What if we choose to think and live more radically with the currency of time in our hands?

So, back to the question: How am I spending my time?

What am I investing it in? Is it solely for the return of money? If I have spent my time elsewhere – perhaps in building something like a home, community, family or relational intimacy – what do I have to show for it at the end of the day? 

Looking back on my 33 years of life, I have to ask myself such questions honestly. With a HDB flat (still under mortgage), a professional career in law, a family of 2 young children, God-given ministries and flocks to shepherd – where has all my time gone and have I spent it well?

I honestly want to know, and I search for an answer.

How to waste your life

Even the time taken to pen these thoughts down is a costly expenditure of a limited resource, but one which I find necessary.

The truth is that once we’ve spent that currency and resource of time, it doesn’t come back. We’ve used it and there is no return policy (just think of that terrible joke you were forced to hear and how you will never get your time back from that).

No matter who we are, we only have 24 hours a day and we can’t buy more of it.

And so, I am reevaluating. I am recalibrating and reconsidering my use of this incredible resource and currency that I have on hand. 

No matter who we are, we only have 24 hours a day and we can’t buy more of it.

After all, I have learnt much through the circuit breaker.

When I was forced to stop all the activities that I had been spending my time on and deliberate over such spending, I trembled at the thought that I might well have been squandering it on things that don’t really matter.

I wondered if I had been investing time in building metaphorical “houses” that could easily be shaken. And have these efforts infringed on the time I could have spent cultivating deeper relational intimacy with God?

He is gracious, but I know that some of the time lost will not come back. Nevertheless, that makes me want to live better and make wiser investment decisions with the time that I have on hand.

To the young ones (younger than me, at least) I caution this – you have more time on your hands than the rest of us.

Think carefully about what you choose to spend it on. You may sow your time to grow a bigger number in your bank account or more “EXP points” on whatever game is in fashion now, but if it comes at the cost of character and relational intimacy with God and family… Think again.

To the older ones (I speak to myself too), we have less time left than the younger ones among us. And life has taught us that the Timeless God is also the Lord of Time – He gives just as He takes away.

I don’t think it’s ever too late to re-evaluate, reposition ourselves and change course if need be.

So let’s invest our time in the right things wisely and make decisions to correct ourselves now.

You may think that because you’ve spent 10, 20 or 30 years on something, you’re “locked in” for good. But I don’t think it’s ever too late to re-evaluate, reposition ourselves and change course if need be.

Our real legacy for those after us is not so much the monetary inheritance left behind, but the legacy of being a model or prototype of the lives they could and should be living.

For inasmuch as we did nothing to receive this valuable currency of time, we will nonetheless be held accountable for how we chose to spend it.

It’s about time.

This article was first published on Jonathan’s Facebook page and is republished with permission.

THINK + TALK

  1. What are the top 3 things that take up your time?
  2. Are they worthwhile?
  3. What does God say about time in the Bible?
  4. What is one practical way you can begin stewarding the gift of time?