If your computer causes you to sin…

…cut it off!

It’s high time I posted to explain my whereabouts over the last several months. Of course, I haven’t really gone anywhere at all, but my presence in cyberspace has been virtually non-existent. The more astute among you will have noticed I’ve kept reasonably up to date responding to comments, but there’s been no new posts for nine months. Let me explain why.

Last February I explained I was having some health problems. The gist of it is that a shoulder condition means I should limit the amount of time I spend at my PC and driving. That in itself is not a problem – the problem was that apparently the limit should be very significantly less than the 80 or so hours I was spending at the desk or at the wheel.

But there was another, more pressing problem. Time pressures in ministry meant that deadlines were being missed, my research had passed its deadline, and my wife was claiming she had forgotten what I looked like. Something had to give.

After several weeks praying, thinking and seeking advice, the solution seemed clear. Currently I have two part-time ministries – thirty miles apart. That requires a lot of travel. I simply needed to not renew my contract at one ministry. Immediately that would save several hundred hours of time each year, not to mention a few thousand pounds in travel expenses. I would even be able to afford to take on eight hours a week in voluntary work and still be significantly better off than I was.

But often what seems clear to us, is not God’s way. I did an audit of my time. When I added it all up I discovered there was another way of saving the time I needed – radically reduce the amount to time I spent using my computer at home. The problem was that all (well, most) of what I used the computer for were ‘good things’ – email, blogging, and research. I wasn’t playing games – I’d given that up over a year before – this was all serious stuff! But while it was serious and perhaps even good, I came under growing conviction that it wasn’t essential, and must not prevent me from undertaking my core ministry. Reducing my time spent on the computer at home from 2 hours to 30 minutes each day would save me more than 10 hours a week, five hundred hours a year. That’s more than 12 extra weeks in a year (based on a 40 hour week), and not to be sniffed at.

There was only only thing for it, I cancelled my internet subscription, and am now able to give myself fully to both ministries.

It’s frightening how much time we can waste. A few minutes here and there soon adds up, and we never get it back. Even as I’m thinking about it, I realise this post must end soon! But the blog is now back. I won’t be posting daily, perhaps not even weekly, but in moderation I know it can serve a useful purpose – at least to me. Indeed, some comments on earlier blog posts, accelerated my thinking to such an extent that I reckon it saved my months of research for my thesis – but that’s a story for another day…

But please do think about how many minutes you spend “wasting time” every day. It may be idly clicking after a Google search. Perhaps flicking through the newspaper. Maybe channel-hopping. Perhaps reading books you don’t really enjoy, gossiping, or just being lazy. Maybe you don’t have a problem with time, and there are always enough hours in the day. If there are, then you’re very fortunate. But use those hours well. If if there are never enough hours in the day, then perhaps you can make some – simply by saving time.

Comments

  1. Hi Mark,
    Just read your post, and found i’ve been concerned about the same thing recently (not that I have a wife or multiple-jobs yet!), but yes, it is increasingly easy to spend time doing things on the internet that appear useful and informative, but perhaps these are strangling the time which should be spent on more important things (quite-times, reading, prayer, or fellowshipping with others – especially, wife and family, if you have them!). Hmm… I need to think through this some more…
    I hope things go well for you with the change of routine. All the best, Jon

  2. Jeff Calvert says:

    I want to thank you for your post. It has helped me, and i just wanted to let you know..

  3. And I thought you were just slacking!

  4. Ken Macdonald says:

    I disagree. You have a great website that has helped me a lot. Get back on your PC surfing for new ideas, and posting God’s Word.
    Take leisure time out too. I work 6 days a week and have 2 small children. The internet and CD rom bibles mean that I can put together a message for our small fellowship (when occasionally asked) quickly and easily. I still buzz all week thinking about what to say, but the net allows me to find out about people like Wesley Autrey (google him) and other gems. I used your ‘That’s My King ‘ presentation recently. Putting that together was the best time wasted I have ever heard of. Well done to you – use your gift with the PC to the full I say. Sorry about your shoulder. If you need to cut down please do so -but please don’t cut it out completely.
    May God richly bless you and your family for your work.