I accomplished little during my 20’s. As for the rest of that time, I wasted most of it.
I wasted my time, resources, and energy, pouring my life out for a job and ministry that I would eventually lose. I wasted my time and emotions on a ton of relationships of which only a handful still remain. Instead of investing in people that would be there long term, I chose to invest in those that were there in the present. I have not heard from most of the relationships I built in my 20’s since I turned 30.
Regret would be the word that would label most of that time. Far too many late night drives to get back for a job that would never appreciate it. Not enough days off taken to spend with those that really supported me. To many chances and opportunities turned down because of a job that would never pay off.
One fascinating thing about the Biblical narrative is the patience showed by the characters themselves. Moses spent 40 years in Egypt, 40 years in wilderness, and then 40 years leading the Israelites. David is anointed king of Israel in 1 Samuel 16.23 but doesn’t become king until 2 Samuel 5. His age at anointing was unknown, but it can be assumed that he was around his early teens, so he waited about 20 years to see the fulfillment of Saul’s anointing. Jesus didn’t start his ministry until he was 30. Jesus had 20 years of carpentry experience before he ever did any ministry.
The debate rages in my head of wasted time v. waited time.
- Wasted time is stagnant; waited time is full of activity.
- Wasted time is idle; waited time is rested.
- Wasted time is coasting; waited time is preparation for acceleration.
- Wasted time is dying; waited time is growth.
- Wasted time is growing ignorance; waited time is learning.
Wasted time is the hours of facebook-surfing-tv-watching-nap-taking that it took during my 20’s. Waited time is the hours of task-learning-wife-conversing-study-investing time that I spent during the waited years. Wasted v waited time.
The Jewish view of linear history was very different than other ANE worldviews. The cyclical view of time rendered the present meaningless because it would always come back around. But the linear view of time, as documented by Genesis 1.1 “in the beginning…”, maintains that this moment is the only time it will appear. So what is it to take advantage of the day, the minutes, and the time that is given us? To wait in time, not to waste time? Here’s how I would take advantage of waited time:
- Take a job working by the hour. During your teens and 20’s is when you best can learn the value of a dollar. When you realize that a $150 phone bill is really 12-15 hrs of work, money is looked at differently.
- Build and learn skills….even if they aren’t part of your career. You can learn a bunch of things from mechanics to leather work; painting to woodworking…so much can be learned from youtube, take the time to learn how to work on your car, fix things around the house, and create things you can be proud of.
- Invest in relationships that will last. Careers and jobs come and go, but relationships surrounding interests can last forever. My church friends are long gone, but my rodeo friends and family are still there. People get fired for all kinds of stupid and unfounded reasons, but friends don’t get fired from friendships.
- Be fluid…bring diversity to the table. I have and Old Testament Degree where as a buddy has a communications degree. He can do a hundred things, I can parse hebrew verbs…one of us is happily employed and the other is working for an hourly wage, staring at a glass ceiling, in a field completely unrelated to his degree. I will let you figure out which one is which.
- Invest in memories and experiences, not things and stuff. There is a movement to life a simpler life. When I think about all the stuff I missed in my 20’s because it didn’t make sense to pursue it…wasted time.
- Find a Church and fall in love with the true God who loved you enough to send his Son Jesus to die for you and His Spirit to guide you. When all else falls apart around you, as it sometimes does in your 20’s, only He can guide you through it.
I wasted my 20’s and these are all things that I have learned in my 30’s that I wish I had learned in my 20’s. But when it all comes down to it, I don’t want to waste any more time…I want waited time instead.