How To “Buy Time” With Your Family

I like what author Tim Ferris says, "I think time management as a label encourages people to view each 24-hour period as a slot in which they should pack as much as possible." But what if we want more time? Can we get it? Can we buy it? Walk with me for a minute...

Do you like a good sale? You know, the “take 50 percent off the already low price” kind of a sale! You get quality merchandise at a great value. I guess if I have one complaint about such a sale is that they usually don’t last. If you don’t make time now––while the sale is on––then you will have missed a great opportunity.

We are reminded to take advantage of a good sale or good opportunity in the Bible. It’s true! Ephesians 5:15-17 talks all about it:

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
— Ephesians 5:15-17

Now, you may be inclined to take the words “what the Lord wants you to do” as an instruction to go and take advantage of every great sale at the mall. I would say “A” for effort, but that’s not the part of these verses that talk about a sale.

It’s actually the words, “make the most of every opportunity.” Those six words literally mean “buying the time.” Now, we all know there isn’t a place that sells time, so what does it mean to “buy the time”? The thought goes back centuries and was a metaphor taken from the time when merchants would observe the best time to sell their goods, much like ads for a sale catch our attention today.

A few years ago, I was invited to be a guest speaker on a cruise ship. As it turned out, I was available! When the ship arrived at our first port of call, passengers had the option of staying on the ship or disembarking and walking around town. We opted for the second. Once we stepped off the ship, we were met by at least 50 people selling T-shirts, jewelry, purses and food. I guess you could say they were in the right place at the right time.

Pretty smart to be in that exact location at the very moment when the ship arrived. It’s like they somehow knew. Well, of course they knew, and I’m sure they knew when the next ship was due into the port as well. You see, they were “buying the time”––taking advantage of the opportunity.

Just like a modern sale has a beginning and an end, and just like our cruise had specific arrival and departure times, our time on earth is limited, and we need to be ready to take advantage of the time we have.

To put it bluntly, our children sail in to our lives and then sail out. 

We have a limited time with them, so we must take advantage of the opportunity. We must buy the time we have with them now.

We can’t just sit back and expect all the good deals in life to come to us. We must do the looking and comparing to find the best way to make the most of our time with our family. That will mean saying no to some good opportunities in favor of better opportunities, or the best opportunity.

We can only do this by reaching forward and looking ahead. When we look back and see what we have missed, we may say, “Now that I look back, I should have taken advantage of that opportunity.” Our hindsight is pretty clear. It’s when we look ahead that life can appear to be a little fuzzy; but that’s where our faith comes in.

We ask God for the wisdom necessary to make the most of our time, and we take advantage of every opportunity we have with our family. If we don’t take advantage of our time, it will sail away, it will pass us by. Time does not stop while we try to decide how to best take advantage of it. Time is relentless that way. Taking advantage of each opportunity requires a certain diligence and planning from each one of us.

1. How will you “buy the time” today?
2. What moment will you take advantage of with your family today?


How To Spend Uninterrupted Time Together This Week


As a parent ask and answer this question. “What one thing can I stop doing to have a better family life pace?


Just before bedtime, Read Ephesians 5:15-16 together as a family then pray this prayer. “God, help us to be careful with our time. Give us wisdom as a family to know how to make the best use of our time together. Amen”


Have dinner together and ask this question and let everyone answer, “What where your highs and lows today?”


Parents, on a separate piece of paper, write a note to each of your children letting them know how much you love them. Put it in their lunch or on the mirror in the bathroom for them to see.


Collect each family member’s phone and put them in a drawer. Spend the next hour playing a board game that gets you all talking.

The Hardest Word You Will Ever Say

It's one of the easiest words in our language, yet it's the hardest to say. Yes, I’m talking about no.

If we all knew the right time to say no then we would all know when no was the right thing to say. Does that make sense?

Saying no isn’t as easy as it seems. Let’s face it, some personalities have a hard time saying no. Mary and I are two of them! We aren’t talking about saying no to unimportant things. We are talking about saying no to good things, even great things.

How about saying no to an opportunity to feed the homeless? How about saying no to serve on the board of a battered women’s shelter? How about saying no to going on a mission trip or helping someone in need? These people, these opportunities, need someone to say yes to them—to help them, serve them, love them. I would like to revise the first line in this post: Learning to say no isn’t the hardest word to say, it’s just about impossible!

The reason it’s so difficult to say no is the things we are being asked to do or get involved with are good, worthwhile and compelling things. When someone asks me to do something or volunteer for something, I find myself just saying yes without knowing what I’m doing. It’s almost a reflex. Here’s what I have found. The more I say yes, the more it leads to stress; and the more I say no, the more it leads to slow.

I personally had to learn that when I say yes to everyone, I am saying no to someone, simply by default. The reason being "the law of unlimited resources." We think we can do it all! Take a drinking glass for example; it has a capacity. Once the capacity is reached, you can no longer put any more into it without causing it to overflow. The same is true with your life. How do you know when to say no? What’s the protocol? What are the steps or process?

Over the years I have found the following three guidelines to be extremely helpful when needing to say no.

1. Know Your Season
If you know your season of life you can determine how to spend your time. There are four broad seasons of life.

  • Single
  • Married
  • Married with Kids
  • Single with Kids

Are you single? Great, you have more time for what you want to do. Are you married with three kids? Great, you have more time to give your family. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT. Live your season!

2. Know Your Priorities
When values are clear decisions are easy. If you don’t know where you are going or what your priorities are then “yes” will rule your life. Knowing your priorities will help you “no” things that are not. I like what C.S. Lewis says, “Don’t be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn’t do. Each must do his duty ‘in that state of life to which God has called him.’

3. Know Your Limits
All of us have our limits. The problem is I often want to push beyond them. I think I can do more than I was designed for. I push beyond my limits and get rewarded for it to later return and challenge those limits again. Busyness for God does not equal healthiness for your soul.

When I am asked to give my time to a project or cause, I am approached by someone who has the charisma of a movie star, the passion of a motivational speaker and they are asking not only for a good cause but a great one! When you are presented that wonderful opportunity to do something great and everything inside you wants to say yes, then pause... take a deep breath...and delay your answer so you can process the request with a proper perspective.

1. Take Some Time
When someone asks for your time don’t give an immediate answer. If they push you for a quick answer then tell them no.

2. Talk It Over
Have a conversation with your spouse and agree on a decision together.


  • How easy is it for you to say no?
  • Is there something on your calendar that you need to say no to right now?
  • What is it?

3 Ways To Keep Work At Work & Protect Your Family Time

I remember coming home from work one evening several years ago and walking directly from the garage to the kitchen counter without saying hi to anyone. I put down my backpack, took out my laptop, opened my email and started to write.

After a few minutes, my then five-year-old son Alec asked me what I was doing. I told him I didn’t get all my work done at the office, so I needed to finish a few things at home. After a short pause, he said, “Well, maybe they can put you in a slower group at work.” Well said!

How many of us secretly want to be put into a slower group at work?
One of the biggest mistakes I made when my kids were younger was working around the clock.

Lets take a short trip back in time. 20 years ago our parents couldn’t work around the clock. There were limits built in that prevented them from working all the time. The phone was attached to the wall. Sports season actually had a beginning AND and end and there was no such thing as a “push notification” unless you were referring to the doorbell!

Today’s technology allows us to work whenever, wherever and however we want and we need to find a way to stop it.

Modern technology blurs the lines because we are rarely, if ever, are totally unplugged. We don’t really ever completely leave work because when we do, work comes looking for us! Emails to our phones; a text from our boss or team member; a direct message from Twitter or a Facebook alert. Work is always on…if you want it to be. What will it take for us to leave work at work? Here are three ideas to get us going.

1. Mindfulness

Being 100% present in the moment focusing entirely on who is in front of us right now.

2. Boundaries

Leaving our smartphones in the car or turning them off while at home or setting them on quiet and placing them in a location where they won’t interrupt us. The difficulty is we can’t leave them alone.

3. Self-Control

This is really the issue, isn’t it? It was much easier 25 years ago when our phones were permanently attached to a wall along with a cord that kept us close. Self-control was “pre-programmed” for us to some extent. Our smartphones have become our third arm, our second brain, our new relationship.

Proverbs 25:28 reminds us that, “A person without self- control, is like a city with broken- down walls.” There is nothing to protect us, the cords have been removed. I guess when it comes to self-control Nike is right, we need to “Just Do It.”

Without mindfulness, boundaries and self-control our world succumbs to a hectic lifestyle. We feel like our world is in a perpetual state of unraveling. We are a frenetic society made up of frenetic families. It’s going to take incredible commitment and diligence on a daily basis to form habits for a healthy home. Here is a great story that illustrates this point:

Each night when she came home from work, Gina spent an hour playing with her six-year-old daughter, Amanda. Everything else came second: dinner, chores and even -Amanda’s homework. Playtime was a ritual. But one night, Gina had to bring home extra work; playtime with Amanda would have to wait. Looking around for something to occupy her daughter, Gina found a magazine with a world map on its cover. She tore the map into pieces and spread them on a table. “Once you’ve put the puzzle together, we can play,” she said, assuming the task would keep Amanda busy for hours.
A half-hour later, Amanda announced she was finished, and sure enough, she had pieced together the entire map. “How did you do that?” her mom asked. “It was easy, Mommy,” Amanda replied. “There was a picture of a family on the back, and when I put the family together, the whole world just fell into place.” (1)

Amanda may be on to something. When we put the family together, the world just seems to come together.


What idea will you practice this week? Mindfulness, boundaries or self-control?
How will you practice it?


(1) Story adapted from “The Whole World Came Together,” The 30 Best Inspiring Anecdotes of All Times, 1998–99., (accessed August 2012).