It really doesn't matter how many times I have prayerfully read"The Imitation of Christ" cover to cover, it still has an incredible way of kicking me in the pants each time I pick it up. This work by Thomas a Kempis is so rich and deep a well of spiritual water that we ought to continually go back to it for nourishment. Just last night I picked it up for a little reading before falling asleep and was surprised to be as convicted as if I had just knelt down to St. Pio for Confession.
What was it that struck me? It might seem strange for a father of seven to say, but it was Chapter XX, "On the love of solitude and silence". On the surface one might chalk up this chapter to being only practically applied to the religious monk or nun, however, this rich food has enough for even a secular man like myself. I quote:
"Seek a suitable time for thy meditation, and think frequently of the mercies of God to thee. Leave curious questions. Study such matters as bring thee sorrow for sin rather than amusement. If thou withdraw thyself from trifling conversation and idle goings about, as well as from novelties and gossip, thou shalt find thy time sufficient and apt for good meditation."
I admit that I used to see this in a different light back in the days of studying theology at Franciscan University. Curious questions to me seemed to be the philosopher's favorites, "Will we have clothes in heaven?" or "Will my dog be with me in heaven?" Those were amusing times. Now, with seven children and a bit more responsibility I don't really have time to think on such "amusing" questions. How then does this strike me right between the eyes?
My "curious questions" and "trifling conversation and idle goings about" is mainly online news and facebook junkie-ism. Does it matter to my eternal salvation if Ron Paul wins the Pa Primary or if Brambles stock loses 14 cents in a day of trading? Does the meal that someone just ate or the game someone just played cause me to move closer to my eternal reward? The fact for me is that I spend TIME on all of these things. Time spent. Period. Time used up, never to return. I can't get back those 45 minutes I spent reading useless news about Syria and the retired space shuttle.
For the business operator, time management is one of the most important areas to manage properly. Lost time is lost work, lost revenue, lost productivity, etc. If one cannot get a firm grasp on managing time properly, business will inevitably suffer serious consequences. Deadlines will not be met, orders lost, opportunities missed. The owner that lacks this skill will also lack the ability to plan for the future and develop a vision for the company, because he will always spend his time putting out fires that could have been prevented.
In family life, it is much the same. If I don't manage my time at home, there will be lost opportunities, missed moments, and typically frustrated family members. If I spend my small amount of time on useless amusements and "trifling" and "idle" novelties I will inevitably run out of TIME! I will be like the useless servant that failed to invest his time and instead hid it in the ground...he lost the little he had! So it may be Facebook, online news, professional sports, movies, or games that use up our limited supply of time. Whatever it is, one can never say one does not have enough time, only that it may be poorly used.
As men we have immense responsibilities and time should be a very special one to us. Most of us that work, work outside the home and so we spend less time at home than at work. This should give us pause to ponder how we spend this time with our family. Do we spend it on ourselves? or do we spend it on God and our family? Thomas a Kempis says that if we would give up the useless pastimes we would indeed have the time we need (and most likely desire) for things of faith and family!