Time is elusive. We never seem to have enough of it. How many times do deadlines sneak up on us? Vacations slip by before we’ve truly begun to relax? A year is gone in the blink of an eye and we realize we haven’t accomplished what we had hoped.
Deep down, we know that time is not the real culprit. We too often fail to make ourselves accountable for how we spend our time. That is why I have worked to build routines into my life.
The word “routine” often evokes the image of being stuck in a rut. That’s not what I’m referring to. Routine for me is the habits I create in my life so that I do what is truly important first, and consistently rather than scrambling trying to figure out how to fit them in.
The purpose of the routine is to help me, not to make me a slave to its rigid demands. In the past, I failed to allow for flexibility and would feel like a failure if I missed a day. Now I realize that there are times and seasons where things are just not going to go the way you want and that is ok! The routine helps me achieve what is truly important and to grow in the areas I need to grow.
It is so easy to go through life without ever stopping to take stock of what we truly are aiming to accomplish. What relationships we want to develop. How can we better build God’s Kingdom? Are we living with integrity? Are we actually happy? Satisfied? Fulfilled?
The most important things for me is creating built in time to spend with Jesus and studying His Word. Working to stay healthy physically. Reading books to help me grow both spiritually and as a leader. Building stronger relationships, both in ministry and personally.
Why is it important for me to identify that? Because it’s so easy to wake up, lazily check my phone, shower, rush off to work, come home, watch tv until I go to bed. In fact, that might be my default setting. Unfortunately, I know that if I live my life in such a manner I will not grow into the person I want to become. I will be lazy, overweight, isolated, spiritually weak and for sure not live with the character I want to live.
I refuse to let my default setting dictate how I will spend my time. I will choose to invest in my life by doing things that will help me be healthy, spiritually, physically and in my soul. This means I can’t always do “what I want” because what I want has gotten in the way of my true and deepest desires long enough.
Remember, routines are not one size fits all. I’m not suggesting that you should do what I do, however, I am hoping that by letting you in on how I spend my time, you might be encouraged to think about what you truly want and what habits can help you get there.
I am in the process of evaluating my routines, so what I am about to share my change even within the month, but this is what I’m aiming for right now. I set my alarm for 6am. I take a few minutes to wake up, drink water, stretch a little and make coffee. Next, I take an hour or so to pray, read my Bible, Journal. I don’t have a set pattern for that time, but every morning I will accomplish those elements in some capacity. Finally, I hit the gym, shower and head to work.
I start my evening routine around 8pm. I turn off all entertainment, turn on my worship music and prepare to spend a little bit of time just worshipping and reading. I am always reading a leadership book and a spiritual growth book. I don’t try to read excessively, only a minimum of 5 pages in each. If I am really enjoying it, I’ll read more. But if I can stick to just 5 pages in each, I can usually read them both in pretty close to a month. After reading I will sit for a few minutes and try to write. Sometimes it’s easy and words pour out and other times it feels impossible. But I am committed because I have found that writing helps me clarify my thoughts, stirs up my creativity and makes me feel useful and I find that very satisfying. Finally, I will get in bed and read a little bit in a fiction book before sleep takes me, usually around ten.
The challenge of an evening routine is that if I’m hanging out with people, or busy with church events it’s not possible to have such an extensive ritual before bed. And I’m learning that it is ok. The important thing isn’t that I do the same thing, but I do something healthy rather than unhealthy. Relationship building is another important goal for me, so it is worth exchanging my routine to help build stronger relationships with people.
The important thing is that all of these things, from my routines to spending time with people help fill up my soul and help me find rest in an often noisy and restless world. If you take nothing from this, know that you are the only one who can create space for yourself to rest. It is incredibly important and we all need it. We also all find rest in different ways. Discover what restores your energy and make it apart of your everyday life.
One final point I would like to make is that in this blog, I have talked a lot about what we can add to our routines to help make us more healthy and pursue our goals. Please know that while this does require effort on our part, the most important thing we can do is acknowledge our greatest need is to allow God to work in our lives. We need a deeper relationship with Him above all else. The number one priority in my routines is not to see what I can accomplish in my effort, but to position myself to allow God to work in me.
Let me know in the comments something you truly desire and one habit you can incorporate into your routines to help you meet it.