Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 10/20/21

Jordan Raynor (@JordanRaynor) | Twitter

Your time is sacred. So says serial entrepreneur and Call to Mastery podcast host Jordan Raynor in his new Redeeming Your Time: 7 Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful, Present, and Wildly Productive (WaterBrook). We touched on the first four or those principles in Part 1 of our conversation on Monday. I’ll spare you a long intro to Part 2 because, well, your time is sacred.

JWK: The fifth principle in your book is “Accept Your ‘Unipresence’: Focus on one important thing at a time.” Can you define that?

Jordan Raynor: Yeah, sure. So, it’s a pretty wild idea that the Omnipresent God became unipresent in the person of Jesus Christ for 33 years. So, if a person is to believe that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, part of the doctrine of the Incarnation was that Jesus was confined for 33 years to one place at a time. So many of us today are acting like we can be omnipresent. We still believe in the myth of multitasking. We still believe that we can be doing deep work while simultaneously having emails pop up on our desktops and distract us from the thing that we said that we wanted to be present with. That’s just not the Way of Christ. Jesus couldn’t be everywhere at the same time during His time on Earth. Neither can we. We gotta learn practical ways to embrace that unipresence and model it at work and at home.

I would argue, John, the resource most at risk of becoming extinct in our generation isn’t oil. It’s not water. It’s our ability to focus (and be) fully present with one important person or thing at a time.

JWK: Next is “Embrace Productive Rest.”

JR: It sounds like an oxymoron, right? But what loads of scientific data is telling us is that there are at least these three rhythms of rest that make us more productive, not less. The first one is bi-hourly breaks throughout your day – working for ninety minutes, resting for fifteen or thirty. The second rhythm is nightly sleep…and then the third is weekly sabbath. There’s a decent amount of evidence that shows that sabbath – taking one day off a week – makes us more productive. There’s a study from National Geographic that suggests that it might even cause us to live ten years longer than the average person. So, these things are productive towards our goals and the work that we set out before us in this lifetime – but, I would argue, they’re also productive for our souls because rest is a means of preaching the Gospel to ourselves. It’s a means of reminding ourselves that, regardless of how productive or unproductive we are, we are loved and the world keeps spinning without our direct labor. That is an incredible freeing thing to realize. We can take the time to sabbath or take breaks throughout the day or get a good night’s sleep.

JWK: You say “to sleep is to trust.”

JR: “To sleep is to trust,” yeah. I think I got that from (sleep medicine physician) Ben Long but I love that, yes. To sleep is to trust that the God of the Universe isn’t sleeping – and He’s keeping the world spinning without you. Sleep is an act of trust. It’s an act of faith in Him.

JWK: This just occurs to me right now but, it seems to me, that could also be applied to the world and how challenges such as “climate change” are presented to us by the media. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about how our actions affect our environment – and do what we reasonably can to protect it – but it seems like there’s a lot of drummed-up worry over a future that is, honestly, beyond us. It may actually be unproductive to drop all this worry on people.

JR: That’s exactly right.  Listen, we are clearly called to engage this world and solve problems that just don’t have a place in the Eternal Kingdom of God – but we also have to wrestle with this tension that, while we’re partnered to (walk) with the Lord in our work, He alone will finish it. That’s what enables us – recognizing that, sure, God (calls) us to participate in His work but He doesn’t need you or me specifically to do it. If I die tomorrow and the things on my to-do list are on God’s to-do list He will complete them with or without me. That is humbling. That enables us to rest. It’s also freeing because now I can just engage in the work as a joyful response of worship without the pressure of having to finish everything on my to-do list.

JWK: You also share some stories about Paul McCartney and Thomas Edison – and how inspirations came to them in their sleep. One of my favorite songs is actually Let It Be by McCartney. Can you talk about that?

JR: Let it Be, specifically, was conceived by McCartney in his sleep. I’ll give you another (example). Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones would sleep with a tape recorder and a guitar next to his bed. Just in case he woke up in the middle of the night and had an idea he would write it down. One night he’s in Clearwater, Florida and wakes up the next morning and his tape recorder had run all the way to the end. He’s like “I don’t remember doing this. I don’t remember recording anything.” He went back. He played it and it was basically the entire first verse and chord of Satisfaction, arguably the Rolling Stones’ greatest (and) most popular song of all time. He did it totally unconsciously. He did it in his sleep.

What these fun stories illustrate is what doctors have a tremendous amount of data to support now – which is that sleep helps us make creative connections between ideas. Sleep helps us work out problems that our conscious minds during the day couldn’t work out. It’s amazing! It’s a miracle, honestly, right?

This is one of the many reasons why sleep is so critical. I think we all know this. I think it’s hard to understand, okay, how do I get better sleep? It’s one of 32 practical practices I have in the book. I just break it down- “Hey, listen, I’ve got young kids. Both my wife and I get eight hours of sleep every single night. Here’s how we do it ” – and that’s been helping a lot of readers of the advance copies of this book get better sleep so that they can do their most exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of others.

JWK: The last of your seven principles to redeem your time is “Eliminate All Hurry: Embrace productive busyness while ruthlessly eliminating hurry from our lives.” How would you summarize that?

JR: I think it’s important that we understand the difference between busyness and hurry. John Ortberg once said that being busy is an outward condition – it’s a condition of a body – but being hurried is an inner condition of the soul. I think that’s right. So, to make this practical, I think busyness is having a lot of meetings on your calendar. Hurried is when you schedule those meetings back to back forcing you to sprint from one to the next without having enough time to think in between. I know I’m busy when I’ve got a lot of errands to run. I know I’m hurried when I get mad about choosing the wrong line at the grocery store because I didn’t have any margin for the thirty seconds I lost by choosing Lane 3 instead of Lane 4.

When you look at the Gospels, Jesus was crazy busy. He worked a lot!…But He was never busy in a way that made Him angry, irritable, frantic or anxious. That’s the difference between busy and hurried. There’s a reason why this is the seventh of seven principles in the book. It’s the mountaintop. It’s like “Alright, we’ve learned about how do we (manage) our time. (Now) how do we put all these pieces together in a way that ensures that we are wildly productive without being hurried?” And that’s kind of the conclusion of the book.

JWK: You also talk in your book about the importance of setting “epic goals.” Why is that important?

JR: I think they’re important because there’s still work left to do in this world. We are still a long ways away from the Kingdom being on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Christians, I believe, should be setting the most epic goals on the planet for five reasons which I’ll run down real quickly.

Number One: God has the power to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine – so Paul says in Ephesians 3:20

Number Two: In my experience, the bigger your goals are, paradoxically, the easier they are to achieve. Everybody sets average-size size goals so, paradoxically, the level of competition decreases as the size of your goal increases. I’ve seen this played out in my career a number of times.

Number Three: Big goals make it easier to say no. If I find myself having a hard time saying no to requests for my time, usually I’ll go back to my goal and say “Man, there’s probably nothing here that’s really inspiring and really gets me fired up.

Number Four: Big goals recruit others to your cause.

And then Number Five – and this one’s so important for Christ followers – It’s impossible, regardless of the size of our goal, for us to fail entirely because, at the end of the day, in success or failure or somewhere in between we’re still adopted children of God and that is our ultimate security. It’s our ultimate safety net. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about risking financial resources (or) risking time with our family. Of course we should risk wisely but Christians oughta have a different posture towards risk. Because of the Gospel…at the end of the day, we really truly have nothing to lose.

JWK: So, it comes down to balance. A calculated well-thought-out risk can be worthy of consideration whereas a reckless risk is to be avoided.

JR: That’s exactly right. I think Christians oughta have a much bigger vision. The first story I tell in the book is of William Wilberforce. When Wilberforce converted to Christianity at the age of 26 he was already a member of the British Parliament. He almost dropped out. Because of his faith he almost became a pastor. Thank God he didn’t! He stayed there and really radically changed two things.

Number One, he changed the size of his goal for his work. Before his conversion to Christianity he was all about just accumulating more power and moving up to the next seat. Once he became a Christian he said “I’m going to abolish the slave trade.” You’re talking about a wildly audacious goal that was the “great object” – he called it – of his life.

The second thing he changed was how he stewarded his time. By his own admission in his journals Wilberforce said that he was an “undisciplined mess” – unconstitutionally weak with regard to self-discipline and yet he learned. I think that’s a great encouragement to all of us. The most undisciplined people in the world can learn to be disciplined and the Gospel is part of what compels us to be disciplined in how we steward our time because there is work left to do to bring the Kingdom to Earth as it is in Heaven.

JWK: I guess, flowing from that, is the importance of setting goals that are larger than yourself as opposed to just for yourself. 

JR: That’s exactly right. The bigger the goal the more God will be glorified through reaching the goal because it’s so clear to everyone around you that you couldn’t achieve this goal on your own strength. It’s what Paul talked about all throughout his letters in the New Testament about boasting in his weakness so that God will be glorified. One way we could boast in our weaknesses in a really practical way is setting goals that, by human standards, are totally impossible to achieve without God.

My conversation with Jordan Raynor concludes Friday. Redeeming Your Time: 7 Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful, Present, and Wildly Productive (WaterBrook) is available wherever books are sold.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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