Treatise: Time Well WastedIf I told you that I’d wasted my time, after talking to you or spending a lot of time with you etc etc then it wouldn’t necessarily be an insult. A waste of time says nothing about the means by which the time was wasted. Time can either be spent well or spent poorly. This has to do with what you did with your time. And time is either wasted or not wasted. Wasting has to do with what you didn’t do with your time. Your time was wasted if you had something important to do that you didn’t do, because of whatever you did instead. And what you did instead could have been productive just as easily as it could have been unproductive. Therefore, it is quite possible to waste your time well. I have often done this in the past, and so I consider time spent talking to people and building relationships, when I could be studying something or working on an ongoing project, to be time well wasted.
Let me tell you how I came to have this opinion. When I was saved/’reignited’ (God knows the difference) in the Spring of 2010, I was drawn into a continual process of “self-learning,” self simply by virtue of the fact that I alone sat at my computer and followed the indications of my curiosity (which, like the conscience, is one way that I believe God’s Holy Spirit works through us to guide us to truth. In my experience, resolving a question has many times led to the discovery of a profound Biblical doctrine, scientific factoid, historical account, or mode of reasoning that has benefited me as a growing believer, and so I try to pray that God will manipulate my subconscious mind to lead me to think His thoughts after Him, so that I can “follow ‘my’ instincts,” knowing that they are His leading). I would spend several hours a day clicking links and reading extensive articles on websites such as Answers in Genesis, Christian-ThinkTank, Tektonics, TrueOrigin, ApologeticsPress, and later GotQuestions, Answering-Islam, and others. I discovered many sites after a time, but these were the key ones in the beginning, by which I learned vast amounts of apologetics and wrestled through the initial phase of wanting to verify to remove the chance of doubt returning. I believe I spent over 100 hours between mid-March and late May, absorbing and processing huge stores of Biblical information. A full half of those were consumed in the mid-period by a thorough analysis of “errors” in the Bible, to be able to consciously confidently accept that the Bible is inerrant.
The consequence of spending all this time researching Biblical Christianity was that I wasted the remaining time that I had not already wasted by oversleeping, playing video games, arguing on discussion forums, eating, watching movies online, etc, so that there was very little time to study, and my grades consequently suffered. Time wasted, but was it not well spent? Can time be any better spent than worshiping God, reading His Word, learning about Him and the world that He created, and in turn sharing it with others? I don’t think so. But can you nevertheless spend so much time simply learning about God that the other aspects of a life pleasing to Him, such as communion with other Christians, witnessing to the Lost, and the godly aspects of a life of personal responsibility, involving personal growth and academic, professional and civic success (by God’s standards) – that these aspects atrophy? Of course. And I believe that I began to do that then, and continued it without exercising the self-control I needed until about Summer 2012.
I’ve been getting better even since, and am now ‘taking a break’ (comparatively speaking) from all the reading I’ve done online, and am focusing more intensively on my professional development, and with having fellowship with other Christians. But looking back, I conclude that I wouldn’t have gotten to this point of spiritual maturity that I’m at now, if I hadn’t put in the long hours over the past three years to study and learn from those older, wiser, more knowledgeable and experienced than I. So was it time well spent? Absolutely. Therefore I consider it time well wasted. It was only ‘wasted’ in the sense that there were other things I could have been doing at that time, which suffered from neglect. But it was time well spent because I’ve now become highly prepared for future trials of faith and whatever ministry God has planned for my adult life. I feel nothing if not ready…confident. Now I can turn my energies toward things I’d semi-left behind in the meantime, and not worry about there being any loose ends.
I think that Satan and his workmen like to use the opposite method of Genesis 50:20 and attempt to use what God has intended for good and pervert it for evil. God can never be fooled this way—but we can, if we’re not careful. Is doing something good a good thing? Self-evidently so, yes. But can a good thing be done in a wrong way? You bet. For me, studying the Word and ‘loving God with my mind,’ as the Greatest Commandment reads in part, was my “good,” and neglecting to exercise self-discipline with respect to prioritizing my time between things with deadlines and things without was my “bad way” in which I did it. The question is, where should the line be drawn between continuing to do a particular good, and stopping it lest you do it to the exclusion of other goods? Everyone must decide for themselves on a case by case basis. If you must waste time, waste it well. But it is better not to waste it at all.
~ Rak Chazak