We spend a lot of energy looking for shortcuts to save time, and those shortcuts usually add up. But when I look back, I don’t think my biggest time regrets will be spending too much time on Facebook or mismanaging my daily tasks. Those are bad habits, but there are bigger, more systematic time wasters that can really get in the way. Fixing these will free up a massive amount of time and energy. I want to share the four biggest ones with you.
Not Asking for Help
Asking for help is a great way to secure valuable assistance. This is why networking and finding a mentor are hugely needed. If you feel stuck as a Christian or need to learn new skills and have no idea how to get started, talking to other people who can help you learn will go a long way.
Paul wanted Timothy to commit what Paul had told him to other men who would be able to teach other men (2 Timothy 2:2). A congregation should be a teaching and equipping institution (Ephesians 4:11-16). But it only works if the members are aggressive in wanting to grow and develop.
If you’re not asking for help, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough. If you have all the answers, you’re not learning new skills, trying new things, or moving out of your comfort zone. There are a handful of reasons we don’t ask for help, but it’s usually because we’re too proud or scared, and that’s a huge waste of time, because it keeps you from moving forward and really helping your congregation.
Trying to Make Bad Relationships Work
Relationships require maintenance, but there’s a difference between maintaining a good relationship and trying to force a bad one that doesn’t make much sense to begin with.
There’s a lot of emotion in romance and friendships, so sometimes it’s hard to tell when you should keep trying or you should just call it quits. Like a lot of people, I made some common bad decisions that wasted both my time and the time of the person I was with.
Sometimes people can be converted to gospel and they are incredible for the cause of Christ (think Timothy in Acts 16), but sometimes they are an anchor that weighs us down spiritually. When we are influenced by friends like Jonadab in 2 Samuel 13:3, who talked Amnon into raping his sister, or Demas who forsook Paul and went back to the world (2 Timothy 4:10), we need to cut them off. These are bad relationships that will never work. And we must have the discernment to know when to bolt for our own good.
Dwelling on Your Mistakes and Shortcomings
Learning from your mistakes is one thing. Dwelling on them wastes your time, diminishes your confidence, and keeps you from getting on with your life.
Dwelling also makes you more apt to repeat your mistakes. In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers asked subjects to spend money during an imaginary trip to the mall. Before “shopping,” some subjects were asked to recall a past financial mistake. They found those subjects were more likely to incur debt. Perhaps the most surprising is that searching through the past can negatively affect behavior, depending on the ease of recall, even when past examples are positive. Instead of dwelling on the past, the research suggests that setting goals for the future can positively change present behavior. In short, if we want to have better self-control, look forward and not back.
Of course, you don’t want to skip over your mistakes and ignore them either. The goal is to glean something from them, then release the failure. Paul said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Worrying Too Much About Other People
An incredible time-wasting emotion is jealousy. I compared myself to everyone, wanted what they had, and felt inadequate. Like most negative, destructive feelings, the first (and biggest) step to overcoming it is understanding it.
I paid attention to my jealousy and what triggered it, then learned that it was less about the other person and more about my own feelings of inadequacy. Once you understand why you feel jealous or envious, you can take action to cure the problem. Being led by the Spirit means being able to turn away from the unrighteousness of jealousy (cp. 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20). Living by scripture and coming up with and making goals for yourself (which includes building yourself up, Jude 20-21) is a lot more godly and productive.
Most of us are probably guilty of all of these at some point, and really, they’re human nature. Regret is another big waste of time, so there’s no point in beating yourself up over these. The sooner you learn from them, though, the sooner you can free up your time and energy to live stronger in Christ.
Adapted from Kristin Wong