The Superhero’s Guide to Time Management

My youngest daughter just went through a massive Spiderman phase. She watched all the cartoons, and even memorized the theme song. Her conversations mostly revolved around spinning webs (any size!) and catching thieves (just like flies!) But most importantly, it’s all about saving the day.

Sometimes I wish the real world was more like the superhero world.

In the superhero world, the stakes are very clear. The entire fate of mankind stands on the precipice of its certain demise, and the superhero must intervene.

In the superhero world, the enemy is easy to find. The “good guys” and “bad guys” all wear costumes and are very easy to spot in a crowd. Apparently the rest of us just panic.

In the superhero world, the most important job is to SAVE THE DAY. The superhero and his good guy pals overturn the evil plot of the bad guys, and only then can we go back to enjoying peace, justice, and the American way. Whatever that is…

The real world? Not so much. The entire fate of mankind is not obviously determined in a single day. There are no clearly defined enemies. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever had an “enemy” before. There are just a bunch of people with their own agendas, and sometimes they conflict with each other I guess.

All that being said, I do feel like every day of our lives we are faced with an opportunity to save the day. Maybe not exactly in Spiderman fashion, but we can save the day nonetheless.

I usually go for the modern Bible translations, but some passages still read best in the old King James version. Take Ephesians 5:15–16: “See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

When Paul talks about “redeeming the time,” he is referring to avoiding destructive behaviors that waste our time. Instead we can spend our time on more noble and worthwhile pursuits. He’s talking about saving the day.

Redeeming the time = saving the day.

You see, I think God has given each one of us a dream that is uniquely ours, and has gifted us all with the same amount of time in the day to do what we wish. The challenge for us is to spend each day moving us a little closer to God’s plan for our lives. And doing this is a lot more complicated than the superhero world, because the stakes aren’t spelled out so clearly. If I don’t work on my goals on a given day, the sun will go down and Survivor will come on just like usual. And I don’t literally have hooded villains literally standing in my way. I just have a bunch of options on how to spend my time.

It is up to me to “redeem the time” and spend it in the way I am called.

For those of you who have been bit by a radioactive spider, good luck and God speed — you probably don’t need to read any further. For the rest of us, here are a few plays you can borrow from Spiderman’s playbook:

  1. Figure out your mission — I think most of us have a pretty good idea of what we’ve been put on earth to do. If not, there is a wealth of information out there about finding your purpose. Max Lucado’s Cure for the Common Life might be a good place to start. I think all of us could use some clarification on our “mission” in life. Spend an hour brainstorming on paper. At the top of the paper, write something like “Here’s what you need to do.” Make a list. Do it.
  2. Figure out the stakes — Nine times out of ten, the stakes in superhero stories involve the fate of the planet, or even the entire universe. While your stakes are not that high, they are probably far more interesting. Look at your dream and how it fits into your life. Ask yourself some questions. What would your life look like if you succeed? What would it look like if you failed? What would happen if you did nothing? I have found to my surprise that this third question can be the most motivating of all.
  3. Figure out your time enemies — Unless you are a costumed superhero yourself, it is doubtful that your enemies wear colorful costumes and sport equally colorful names. It is quite likely that your real enemies aren’t people at all. I would bet that your enemies are the ways you choose to spend your time. Am I going to work on a creative project today, or am I going to “punt the day” and watch some more reruns of What’s Happening!! This is tough because your time enemies will often come in the guise of your friends inviting you to go to a movie, or somebody from your kids’ school asking you to join another committee. Only you can discern your time enemies. Practice this skill and you will get better at it.

Good luck with your time management, and watch out for those radioactive spiders. I hear they pack a mean bite…

Do you have any real world experience with time management, pursuing goals, and avoiding time enemies? Yes, that probably means all of us. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Use the comments below to tell us about it.

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