If you’ve never met our college pastor, Chris Shepperd, you should absolutely make that a goal this year. I’ve known him since I was 18 and a brand new resident of Texas. He and his wife Leisha held a college small group in their living room for many years (before it was an official ministry!), which is where I first heard them share all their wisdom.
If you have met Chris, you’ll know some of his more famous stories. And he is a fantastic storyteller… don’t tell him I said that!
One of my favorites involves the number 1440. Plainly put, there are 24 hours in a day and each of those hours has 60 minutes. That means we have 1440 minutes in a day, and it matters greatly what we do with the time that we have. You might have heard it put another way…
This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving something in its place I have traded for it. I want it to be a gain, not a loss; good, not evil; success, not failure — in order that I shall not forget the price I paid for it.Heartsill Wilson, “A New Day”
If you’re like me, my first thought after reading that quote was, “Man, I’m still trying to get through my first cup of coffee!” It’s a lot of pressure to put on a day, right?! Then I thought… what if we apply that to Sundays?
A study was conducted in the United States that determined that the average family attends church 40 Sundays each year. Well, most people are only at church for an hour, so let’s make that 40 hours each year. If we (Welcome Teams) serve only 15 minutes each Sunday, that means we serve a total of 600 minutes in a calendar year which totals to….
I remember staring at that scribbled number in the margin of my paper. 10 hours?? My influence in my position depends on what I can do with 10 hours a year??
After I had a bit of an existential and slightly theological meltdown, I had to do some serious reorganization of my Sunday priorities. It absolutely breaks my heart to know that I can’t stop every single person that walks in our doors and answer all their questions about God (impossible, I know) so that they can begin a relationship with him. My time felt too finite but at the same time — wasted.
How many Sundays had I already wasted by being grumpy or unorganized or forgetful? I didn’t have to wonder whether or not I’d treated every guest as if they were the most important person in that moment — I knew I hadn’t. Getting myself out of my spiral of discouragement required some scripture-digging.
Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. — James 4:14
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. — Psalm 90:12
Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man. — Psalm 89: 47
A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. — Ecclesiastes 1:4
I hope those scriptures aren’t seen as morbid but wise. It was a relief to me to know that our time has always been finite and God accomplished so many incredible things within the finitude of each of our lives. In other words, there is no more time to be wasted when you know how little you have.
When it comes to church, 10 hours each year seemed too low to leverage for the glory of God. But is any time too low to be leveraged for God? (The answer is definitively, “no”.) It just means we have to be that much more intentional about our words, our actions, and serve like we may never see that guest again. You know that saying, “You may be the only Bible someone ever reads”? That is so true. They may never read a single verse of Scripture, but how you serve will show them the love of God. The way you serve is the Word of God in action.
Our goal shouldn’t be perfection in using our 10 hours a year. We will still be sleepy and grumpy and forgetful, so release that pressure right now! But we should always show up fully prepared for the life change God wants to do through us.
As for the 1440 minutes we have each day, those are equally important. I’ve always liked the saying, “Don’t repeat one year 75 times and call it a life.” It motivates me to watch less Netflix and reach out to more friends!
In fact, the concept of “1440” was so important to Chris that he tattooed it on his arm in Roman numerals. Now, I’m not saying to run out to a tattoo parlor, but I am saying to write it on your bathroom mirror. Save it as your phone screen’s background. Put a post-it on your computer. Maybe even do that with our 10 hours of service!
My challenge this year is revisit how you spend your 1440 minutes a day and how you serve during the 10 hours on Sundays. Are you giving it all you have? What would it take to get there?