How To Waste Your Life

posted in: Christian Life | 5

Time is precious. We’re given an allotted amount, and it can’t be recycled. I suppose this is good. If time operated like an Xbox, I’m not sure any of us would get on with it, that is, pursuing stuff that matters.

Speaking of time, the average human has around 78 years of it. Or, if you prefer, 936 months. Seventy-eight years is a decent amount of time, I guess. Unless you’re 77.

If you break down your years, however, the window for living out your purpose and making the most of your life closes considerably.

Here’s what I mean.

You spend 25 years sleeping and another 10.3 years working. We’re hardly out of the batter’s box, and already 35 years are gone.

Let’s keep moving, shall we?

On average, we spend 3.6 years eating, 2 years in job-related meetings and 1.5 years in the bathroom (said no man ever). Women spend about 8 years shopping, and of their 78 years, females use one deciding what to wear. Meanwhile, men spend 1 year staring at women. We males, we’re a shallow bunch.

And for the big finale, the most striking statistic of all. Of our roughly 53 waking hours, we spend 70% of them in front of digital media.

A lot to digest, I know. Here’s the point. If you and I plan to make this life count, we better get on with it. Our days are numbered. They’re also sacred, divine gifts from God. How we steward them matters. Paul says it this way in Ephesians 5:15–16.

“Be careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…”

Maybe you know people who wasted their life. But what about you? Are you wasting yours? Are you fully engaged with your God-given purpose?

People who waste their life share some commonalities. I want to share some of those with you. Here are 6 ways to waste your life.

1. Allow good things to distract you from your one thing.

I fear this will be my generation’s epitaph.

“Here rests a promising generation who never realized its potential because they busied themselves with many good things at the expense of their one thing.”

Your God-given purpose will scare you. It will stretch and push you far beyond your comfort zone. It will ask more from you than you can give. If you don’t need God’s help to make it happen, it’s probably not your one thing.

Most of us enjoy the land of the familiar. So rather than move beyond the world we know and pursue a life that matters, we stay close to home and busy ourselves with good things. Volunteering at church, joining a small group, supporting a family, going on a mission trip, living with integrity.

All good things, right?But not necessarily the one

But not necessarily our one thing. And only you know whether you’re using good things to avoid engaging your one thing.

2. Avoid what’s right in front of you.

So, you’re not sure about your one thing. Thankfully, God doesn’t send us on a hopeless game of hide-and-seek. Your one thing is right in front of you. Always.

Dang it. I hate hearing that. It means I can’t check out of the moment. It means reminiscing about the last thing or holding out for the next thing is all but useless in God’s economy.

Make no mistake, you will waste your life if you avoid what’s in front you. Your obedience to the present moment determines the legacy you leave.

3. Tell yourself you don’t have enough time.

You know who doesn’t have enough time? Everyone. We’re all on borrowed time.

Curse the clock all you want. The hands of time won’t change. Father Time shows no partiality. You can’t manipulate or bribe him. Fair or not, he gives every human the same thing, 24 hours. You choose what to do with it.

Besides, you serve a God outside of time. He can take a few years and make them last a few centuries or more. Think about people like Moses, King David, Mary, Jesus and Paul. Or, and in more recent days, M.L.K, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa. All of these took their last breath years ago, yet their lives continue to shape the world.

The number of your days doesn’t determine the breadth of your impact.

The number of your days doesn’t determine the breadth of your impact. Write that down. You have just enough time to fulfill God’s purpose for your life.

4. Talk about what you should do but never actually do it.

If you want a fast and quick way to waste your life, tell everyone what you’re going to do. Talk about that mission trip you’re going to take. Tell everyone about that coworker you’re going to share the gospel with. Tell yourself you’re going to do whatever it takes to beat that addiction. Tell everyone what’s wrong with the world. Draw up a battle plan. Make it look good and clear and coherent.

Then, do nothing.

A meaningful life has a strong bias towards action.

A meaningful life has a strong bias towards action. At some point, you must take a step towards your purpose.

5. Allow the words of others’ to become your identity. 

Your brain is a story-forming machine. It takes experiences. It draws conclusions and judgments about those experiences. Your brain then pieces everything together in a coherent narrative. Some of these stories are helpful. Others, not so much.

Thoughts aren’t necessarily facts. You must decide which narratives frame your worldview.

You see, behind almost every wasted life is a plethora of negative storylines. “I’m not smart enough. I will always be overweight. I will never overcome this.” And so on.

To make the most of your life, you must take control of the chatterbox and get him working for, not against, you. You can’t silence him. Nor should you. But you must have a serious convo with him, if you haven’t already.

Don’t say much. Just let your chatterbox know you’re calling the shots now. He’s free to share his thoughts. But you’re the head honcho. You’re numero uno. And you will decide which thoughts are lies and which are the truth.

Then, direct him to the back seat. And tell him to fasten his fast belt.

6. Wait for permission.

If you sit around waiting for a permission slip to validate your purpose, you will waste your life. God signed off on your permission slip the moment he placed you on this earth. All you need is faith. In yourself, yes, but more importantly in your Creator and his working through you. Your voice matters. You have something to give the world, something no one else can give. We need your contribution.

Your voice matters. You have something to give the world, something no one else can give. We need your contribution.

Step out in faith. Give it to us.

You’re here for a reason. I believe that. As long as you have breathe in your lungs, you can make a difference in this world. You can make something of your life. I’m cheering you on.

I want you to join the conversation.

What are some ways people waste their life? Leave a comment below.

Grace and peace, friends.

Follow Frank Powell:

Frank is a contributing writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. Occasionally he plays golf. Often he drinks coffee.

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5 Responses

  1. Bonnie Taylor

    You nailed me! As I get older, (71 yo), I use many of these excuses to deny that my life continues to have purpose. You mentioned Mother Teresa & I find it interesting that the day she died no one noticed much because it is also the day Princess Diana died. Thanks for the reminder that life is precious & God-given. (I worship with your Mom at Sycamore View). Keep up the good work!

  2. Nancy

    The days slip by and I’m grateful when it’s easy. Do I need to feel anxious and uncomfortable to do the ‘one’ thing? Probably. I’m asking myself these questions and re-reading this thought provoking blog. Thanks Frank.

  3. Jeff Christie

    Waiting on someone else’s promises who never comes through for you. Being expected to accept double-standards as a way of life. Being blamed, when not at fault. Having your reputation tarnished by slander. “But a crushed spirit, who can endure?” Not me. Not much longer.

  4. mike

    what does he mean by avoiding whats in front of you vague and no example given? thanks for more clarification.

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