By Jerry B. Jenkins, Special to ASSIST News Service
BLACK FOREST, CO (ANS – July 10, 2016) — You face a difficult choice.
How will you invest your most valuable resource—the 168 hours you are allotted each week?
Not one of us gets a second more or less.
Despite my age and my commitment to finish well, I didn’t just now start thinking about how to prioritize my time.
Something told me, early on, to invest it wisely so I’d have no regrets. When people ask what I want said at my funeral, the number of books I’ve published, the number of copies sold, or how many times my titles reached the New York Times bestseller list do not come to mind.
I’d like to be remembered as a faithful husband, father, and grandfather.
The only thing I care to have said about my career? That I redeemed the time.
It Gets Harder All the Time
If your calendar looks anything like mine, you’re already balancing enough plates to make a veteran waiter sweat.
You feel pulled in every direction by the demands of your job, your friends, your church, and perhaps civic or charitable efforts.
There simply isn’t enough time, you tell yourself. Something has to give.
So what’s it going to be? What are you willing to cut from your life to prioritize your family?
I can think of a lot of things—TV, movies, parties, concerts, maybe a sport or hobby you enjoy.
But What About Quality Time?
Can you cut in half the time you choose to spend with your spouse or the kids, making sure the time you do spend with them is quality time?
Don’t you deserve to chase all your dreams?
They’ll understand, won’t they, that during certain hours you have to pursue your own agenda? I mean, they accept that you go off to your job every day.
No, No, A Thousand Times No!
If you must choose between your dreams and your family —
Give up the dreams.
That’s right, I said it.
I’ve made my living, my career, my life as a writer. It’s paid the bills, put food on the table, kept us out of debt, and put our kids through college.
But I was not willing to sacrifice my family on the altar of my career.
If writing had demanded that—less time with my wife and our three sons, I would have chosen another career.
My Story and My Policy
One week in the early 1970s, when I was a 20-something newlywed and long before Dianna and I had children, I took a message right between the eyes.
In the course of my work as a magazine editor, I had five middle-aged men—independent of each other—tell me that the one regret they had at this stage of their life was that they hadn’t spent enough time with their kids when they were growing up.
Clearly, someone was trying to tell me something. I told Dianna that if I got to be that age and had that same regret, I’d be without excuse. We talked it over and established a policy for when our own children came along.
Simply, it was that I would do no work from the office nor any freelance writing from the time I got home from work each day until the kids went to bed.
* I found time to continue to court and date my wife.
* I gave her a much-needed break at the end of each day.
* I learned to change diapers, heat bottles, rock babies, and put them to bed.
* I catalogued 1001 funny things toddlers say.
* I taught the kids to pray, sang with them, and saw each of them come to faith.
* I taught them sports and watched them in every soccer match, baseball, basketball, and volleyball game until they left home.
You can tell kids they are your top priority. They’ll hear what you say, but they’ll believe what you do.
To kids, love is spelled T-I-M-E.
What Happened To My Writing?
Despite that I am a morning person and the writing I do before noon is the best work I’ll do all day, during those growing up years with the kids, I could write only from 9 to midnight.
Yet, because I wrote without guilt, I was as productive during those three hours a night as I had ever been—and in truth, as productive as I have been since, despite that I have been a full-time freelancer for 25 years.
We gained credibility with our kids, and they became our best friends. Naturally we didn’t agree on everything, but they never doubted our commitment to them.
What It Cost Me
* A lot of TV
* An hour or two of sleep per night
* As full a social life as we might have preferred
So, What’ll It Be?
Only you can decide your own priorities.
Social Media? (There are apps to help you control that, i.e., Freedom. Google it.)
Let Me Say It Again
Whatever you decide, don’t sacrifice your family on the altar of your career. You’ll never regret the time you spend with them, but you’re almost certain to regret the time you don’t.
Photo captions: Jerry B. Jenkins with his wife Dianna. 2) Jerry B. Jenkins.
About the writer: Jerry Jenkins is the author of The Left Behind Series and a total of 189 books. His titles have sold more than 70 million copies worldwide, and 21 of his books have reached the New York Times bestseller list. He and his wife live in Colorado and have 3 sons and 8 grandchildren. Jerry teaches writing at www.JerryJenkins.com.
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