For the past few years, the church I go to has had a campaign called “The One-Hour Challenge”:
To have a happy, peaceful life, it is important that we have our lives in order, with our grateful response to God for his gifts being our top priority. That is how a disciple responds in the areas of prayer, family, finance, and service.
If you need help to put balance in your life, take the “one hour challenge”: Each week spend at least…
- One hour in prayer and worship.
- One hour, special, focused on your family or other important relationship.
- One hour’s wage (if you have a job) for the Lord. No job? Then give what seems right for you.
- One hour in service. (Helping another, or working for some cause.)
The above quote is from the “ad” in the church bulletin describing this challenge.
Recently I’ve been reflecting on this challenge, as it relates to my life:
- One hour in prayer and worship. Check!
- One hour, special, focused on your family or other important relationship. Check!
- One hour’s wage for the Lord. Check!
- One hour in service. Now this is where I’m having trouble!
A few years ago I had no problem fulfilling this one hour in service every week. Every other week I would go visit an elderly aunt of mine. She didn’t drive, so I took her shopping and on any other errand she needed. I stayed over the whole weekend and we had a nice visit in addition to the “work”. So, the service time averaged out to more than an hour a week. After I got married, the visits were less frequent, and the number of hours of my stay was fewer, but I still was going that extra mile, so to speak, to be of service. Then about a year and a half ago my aunt moved in with her son and daughter-in-law and my services were no longer needed.
I can’t lie. I was grateful for this. Over the years, as I moved farther and farther away from my aunt and as my responsibilities grew in my immediate family, it became tiring to go over there and help out. Even if it was only twice a month. I cherished the freedom of having my weekends free to do what I wanted. That sounds selfish, I know. But, after taking care of others (not just my aunt) for well over 15 years, it was nice to have a break.
But, maybe because I’ve spent nearly half of my life taking care of others, I’ve recently been feeling that I should again be of service to others. So, I’ve been contemplating various opportunities to see what I might be interested in (and competent to do). Most recently the prayer quilt ministry has been asking for new members. I like to sew. I’m not very good at it, but they’ll even take people who don’t know how to sew.
As I sat in my favorite chair and contemplated attending a meeting, I ended up looking around my living room, and my kitchen, and my dining room (it’s all one large room in my house). And I realized something. How can I have the time to serve others when I haven’t even found the time to serve my family? And, let’s face it, keeping a clean house and cooking a nice dinner for one’s spouse is serving the greater good of the family. Now, spending time doing these things may not be the “special” time spent nurturing my family as it says in the second list item above. But, even these mundane tasks are a way for me to show my gratitude to God for his gifts of my spouse, our house, our possessions, the food we eat…. And, it is this attitude of gratitude that the One Hour Challenge is supposed to foster.
So, first things first. I have to put my own house in order (and keep it in order) and only after that’s done can I really contemplate what to do with my free time. Because only when the work is done will my time really be free.