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Are you “Wasting Time” the most excellent way?

Nov 04, 2014 // By Marcus Brotherton

 
Do you know there are actually two ways any of us can waste time?

One is productive.

The other is an unhelpful.

The productive way of “wasting time” is actually not “wasting” at all. It means to take a break from work.

True leisure, true rest from the busyness of life, might involve occupying ourselves with needful tasks such as cleaning the garage, doing the dishes, or raking leaves out in the yard. It might mean occupying our minds with something completely different from what we normally do. We might read a book. Go for a bike ride. Hike in the mountains. Go for a swim.

It is perfectly fine—even beneficial—to take a break from life’s urgent tasks.

St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) was out hoeing potatoes in his vegetable garden one day when one of his parishioners came along, alarmed—and critical—that this stately man of academics and the cloth would ever stoop to such a menial task.

“If you knew the end of the world was suddenly upon us today,” the man said, “what would you be doing right now?”

Augustine paused, looked the man in the eye, and said, “I’d keep right on hoeing my potatoes.”

That’s the lesson for us all. Augustine knew the value of including menial tasks in the overall rhythm of life. No one can keep up an unrelenting pace without occasionally taking a break.

Augustine’s story raises the question then, What’s the other way of wasting time, the unhelpful way? If we don’t waste time by doing menial tasks, then what is it?

The Apostle Paul answers this question well in his ancient letter to the Romans. “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God. … What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?”

Wasting time—in the unhelpful sense of the phrase—means doing something harmful or counterproductive. Maybe even something wicked—and not in the New England sense of the word.

Picture a man after he’s engaged in some sort of harmful or counterproductive activity. I find this question of Paul’s incredibly sharp and pointing: What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?

It’s rhetorical, it begs the obvious. What benefit did you reap?

How will we spend our time today?

If we “waste” time, will we waste it in helpful and productive ways?

Or will we look back on our day and be forced to admit, “There was no benefit to that activity at all?”

 
Question: how do you best “waste” time?

 

“Waste time” well by reading Marcus’ new novel, FEAST FOR THIEVES.

  • Ollie Adams

    Very interesting and thought provoking article. I have witnessed and, heard of others who ended their world and destroyed family relationships by attempting to constantly remain productive refusing to “take a break”. If we don’t shut down on occasion, nature will run her course and shut us down without our warning or approval.

    I enjoy your post very much. They always leave me with a fresh prospective or hit on some point of interest. Thank you very much. Have a great day and may God continue to bless your efforts.

    • MB

      Thanks for the encouraging comment, Ollie. Much appreciated!

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HI, I'M MARCUS BROTHERTON,

the bestselling author or coauthor of more than 25 books. Welcome to my blog. Thoreau pointed out how too many people lead lives of quiet desperation. Their lives are bland and meaningless, or they make choices that trap them in despair and darkness. By contrast, I want to help people lead lives of excellence. Meet here regularly for powerful stories and insight into how to live and lead well.