It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. There’s always more work to do or more social media posts to see or more sports news updates to hear. Maybe, on top of that, you’re a father, a husband, a son, or a friend—and there never seems to be enough time in the day to fit everything in. Time is valuable because it’s so limited. Here’s an excerpt from the Wild Life: Start Really Living Bible Plan about how to spend time with those who matter most.
I can relate with the struggle to unplug from work, sports, or social media and give our attention to the most important people in our lives. I empathize so much that the day before I sat down to write this post, I received a notification on my phone that my screen time was up 42% over the previous week. So please know, I write this post from a place of vulnerability, and this very topic is a work in progress in me.
I loved sports as a kid because I knew there would be an obvious result at the end of the game. Win or lose, there was resolution, and I would know where I stood in that equation.
This drive to see tangible and quick results has carried over into adulthood and served me well in business. I think this results-driven mindset may be ingrained in many men and women. We strive for the next sale, the next promotion, the next good review. We want to know who won and who lost.
But what about as spouses, parents, friends, and kids? In these roles, it’s not so easy to follow the score, grab that win, or learn from a loss. Is this why it can be easier to over-invest at work where score is kept? Or why we stay lost in social media land, following everyone’s misleading highlight reels to see what “winning” looks like? Maybe.
Winning with the people we love is a long game. In fact, it’s a game that we will play until the day we leave this earth. These relationships need intense patience and persistent pursuit. You can’t three-step or workshop them. They will require sacrifice and selfless love. Many times when you are winning at this continuous game of prioritizing the right people in your life, you will not see immediate results. You will have to trust God with the future results of the intentionality you are sowing today.
Yet time on earth is finite. We only get 24 hours in a day. So how do we play a never-ending game in a finite world? We switch our mindset from time management to attention management. We recognize that our attention is the most precious resource we can give to those God has woven into our lives. When we stop trying to do everything, we begin prioritizing our attention on the most important things because our attention is the most precious resource we can give to those God has woven into our lives.
This shift happened for me after our fifth child was born. From any outside perspective, our life was awesome. My wife and I had five kids (8 years old and under), owned our own growing business, and were blessed with an extensive community. But in the midst of all that good, I came to realize I was just coexisting with her and our kids. A wise counselor in my life gave me some action items to tangibly shift my attention.
First, I was to take my wife on a date every single week. Second, I was to turn my phone off before I got in the door after work and not turn it on again until after the kids were in bed and I had spent time talking to my wife. Third, we were to sit down together for a weekly family planning meeting to ensure the right priorities got on our schedule. These small attention disciplines have transformed my approach to life, and my relationships with the most important people in my life are stronger than ever before.
So, be relentless about turning off your phone when you’re with the people you love. The outside world will still be here when you get back to it in a few hours. Begin organizing your schedule by priority, not proximity. If you’re married, come through the door with words like, “What can I do to serve you right now?” If you’re a dad, get on the floor and listen to your kids. Listen with your eyes. Keep the TV turned off. Read the bedtime story again and don’t skip any pages. And while the results may not be visible today, God will do something so good that you could never keep score of it.