That’s the sound of time, slowly but surely drifting out of your grasp and into the deep, vast portals of history.
Maybe you have previously understood the all too familiar sense of passing time, but imagined the slow and steady drip of a loosely tightened tap faucet. A replenishable source with a limited output.
Yet these are not like drips from a tap, but from a very finite source.
Think of it like a bottle with a set amount of water in it.
A limited and unknown amount of time has been entrusted to you, to do with as you please.
If properly used, this gift of time can result in a tremendous gift for the rest of humanity. It can also pass away, unmaximized with excuses like “too little time” limiting the mark you leave behind.
So how do we use time properly?
Today, we are starting a series on the 4 most valuable things to do with your time and hone in on our first point – Adding Value To Yourself.
I want to start with a clear distinction.
When I refer to adding value to yourself, I am not speaking of trying to gain some worth that you are missing out on as a human being.
Everyone has inherent worth. From the moment you were conceived until now, you were and are worth fighting for. You are created in the image of God. Loved, a treasure and you carry a value beyond what words can describe.
When I speak of adding value to yourself, I mean the value that affects your net worth, income and relationships. Improving the “you” that interacts with others, contributes to society and navigates the many challenges and joys of life.
If you are able to master this one principle of adding value to yourself, you become almost limitless. You are able to become established in any area or field of study, income stream, sport competition or strength of character. If you can get a hold of this one principle, you can determine your own financial worth and overall place in life.
Like I said in another blog, if others own your life, you stay where you are. If you own your time, you can invest it in much growth.
You need to be purposeful about investing 1-3 hours every single day adding value to yourself.
How To Add Value To Yourself-
You must be willing to be honest about who you are. You may not have ever thought about the areas of your life that needs to change or be strengthened.
Or maybe you thought of it briefly before going into an interview where you think they may ask you, “What are your weaknesses?” So you throw together a nice sounding “weakness” like being a workaholic which you think your potential new boss would like to hear.
Self-evaluation isn’t done in order to “beat yourself up” or begin to feel ashamed, condemned or limited by these weaknesses. It is done to realize the areas of your life that -if improved- will drastically improve your own quality of life, career, ministry and relationship with God.Proper, healthy self-evaluation will improve your quality of life, career, ministry and relationship with God!Click To Tweet
Very very few people can say they have mastered life and are currently in a place of complete perfection in character, knowledge, wisdom and the like.
In fact, there is only one person who is able to say such a thing – Jesus Christ.
—-Unfortunately, some people expect that becoming a better reflection of God on the earth requires no effort on their part.
They expect that God is changing them and will continue to “work on them” outside of their input.
I have actually heard some people say “God’s still working on me” as a cop out from accepting a fault and deciding to be better.
That phrase can be used as truth only when you’re actively participating with God on that work. Otherwise, you should be saying –
“God wants to work on me but my pride, love for sin and/or stubbornness refuses to allow Him to do His thing”.
Then “who am I” you ask?
The person you are right now, before you take on this task of adding value to yourself, is a reflection of your parents, family, peers, education/schooling system and environment.
You have not yet begun to discover who God created you to be unless you have decided to begin self-evaluation. You’ve simply taken on the expectations of people around you and lived the life they expect for the most part.
Like it or not, you are the subtotal of those who developed and trained you.
Those who contributed to your upbringing have also established your current mindset and paradigm for life.
Even if it has looked good. If you have done well in this role. Without self-evaluation and improvement, you have not yet started living your own life well, simply the one they created for you.
Though I have 4 sisters, 3 of us were brought up mostly in the country, Nigeria. The last 2 were brought up (by the same parents) in the country, Canada. This affected our way of thinking and behaviour drastically.
Some things that come naturally to the first 3 of my parent’s daughters are an afterthought in my last 2 sisters. Meanwhile, there are parts of Canadian culture that are very much a part of them and had to be learned for the 3 of us.
We are vastly different simply because of one change in our upbringing – our environment.
Likewise, there are paradigms through which you look at life that cannot be shared or given.
And these paradigms can limit or affect who you become. If you are not active about going through a process of self-evaluation and eventually, self development.
This is not a proud self-discovery/self-worship. But a prayerful look at God’s desire for who you are supposed to be and the life you are meant to live to His glory.
It is a commitment to bring that “you” to being.
Make a list of the different modes of thought that you have, which have been inspired by your upbringing, culture, education, peers etc.
Highlight any of them that you can see clearly are not reflective of the word of God or your vision for your own life.
The Foundation For a Strong Value System.
When we speak of agreeing to a process of change and creating the life that God is calling you to, it cannot simply be done through your imagination or “positive thinking”.
You need something concrete to follow.
Guidelines to keep you from becoming self-absorbed and self-important.
A sure way to keep yourself from pride and remain submitted to the process of growth.
That guideline is the Bible. The word of God.
God is your Creator and He knows exactly what He intended when He put you together in your mother’s womb.
When you go back to the His word – the Bible- as the basis of your transformation, you discover the exact places where your prior way of thinking has been wrong.
Man! I can tell you guys, the bible changed my life completely when I began to read it in order to be changed by it.
A lot of the time, the things you have learned from people’s traditions outside of the bible are faulty. Why? Because it’s like the game of broken telephone.
E.g. Some Christians embrace poverty and behave as though having money is evil.
They often say things like “money is the root of all evil” and it’s clear they have not actually read and meditated on 1 Timothy 6:10 themselves.
If they had, they would know that it actually says that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”.
Having no money will not protect a person from falling in love with it or allowing it to affect their decisions, level of peace or sense of security.
The bible said it is the heart posture behind the material, not the material itself that can be dangerous.
And God knows that many people fall into the trap of loving money with millions in the bank and others with negative amounts (debt).
What is your value system based on – Culture or God?
I remember the day I encountered one of the errors in my culture and had to choose what held more value for me.
I had gotten into an argument with my younger sister, and afterwards, in my time of prayer, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to return to her and apologize for the way I had spoken to her.
*backstory* I grew up in the Nigerian culture which says “the older person is always right”. And I genuinely believed that. I would always take the word of an elder person over someone younger and therefore, I also would assume that I was in the right if I disagreed with someone younger than me.
When Abba asked me to return and humble myself by apologizing to my younger sister, I immediately protested.
I said, “I can’t do that, she’s younger than me!”
Even if I was wrong in the way I spoke to her, she was wrong for arguing with me in the first place. She wasn’t being respectful towards me.
And He simply left the conversation at His last words.
As I wrestled with this request, I thought, I can’t apologize to her, we’re Nigerian and that just doesn’t make sense in our culture. To which He said,
“You are either first a Nigerian or you are first My follower. Which is it?”
Immediately, I conceded that before I could lay claim on any other part of my identity, I needed to submit my entire person, identity and way of thinking to God and His word before my nationality or culture.
In particular, I had to submit my pride, though it was acceptable and celebrated in my culture, for the sake of having a relationship with my sister that reflected the love of Christ.
So I went to my sister and mumbled a pathetic “sorry” which was really surprising to her and quenched much of our fire (for that moment).
This didn’t make me less of a Nigerian, or less connected to my culture. However, it helped me to begin to look objectively at what parts of my culture were aligned with the word of God and what parts were not.
That simple action shifted my paradigm.
It helped me later during our marriage counselling when an elder person counselled myself and my then-fiance by saying that we needed to plan financially (good advice) and that in order to do that well, we needed to love money (bad advice. really really bad advice. lol)
They kept on repeating that loving money was ok and it was such a glaring opposite from the word of God. But if I still had that mindset of elders always being right, I may not have caught it at all.
When other inconsistencies between my culture (Canadian or Nigerian) and the Word of God presented themselves, I was much more likely to notice it and choose God’s word and His way.
So! You want to figure out what your current value system is based on.
Is it the amalgamation of everyone else’s opinion and traditions or is it founded on the solid base of the Word of God?
How To Change and Add Value To Yourself
You have greater potential for growth and change than you can ever imagine.
You are able to determine what your values are for life and change your lifestyle, paradigms, habits and mode of thinking to live a life that follows the values that matter to you.
You can recreate your world by changing your way of thinking and habits to match the principles that you value.
That’s why someone who grew up with an abusive parent does not have to become one themselves. They are able to change their way of thinking because they value their children and want to give them a better parental experience than they received.
However, many people who do not go through this process of self-evaluation and change will not even see the areas where they reflect the exact actions and way of thinking they hated to see in their own parents.
They simply become a victim of the abuse and remain so all their lives.
Forever affected by an unchangeable past.
And that my friend, is more of a prison than the abuse itself.
Let’s talk health.
If you value being a healthy person but have found yourself limited by your environment, upbringing and lack of knowledge on how to live a healthy life, you are not STUCK in the place you currently are.
If you value it enough, you are able to begin to read books, watch videos, speak to friends and experts who live healthier lives than you do and grow. You can begin to take baby steps toward eating properly, getting more activity and grow as time goes on.
Yes, it takes self discipline. It takes sacrifice and commitment to change something as deeply ingrained in some people as the love for junky, garbage snack foods to begin to train your tastebuds to eat and truly enjoy salads, vegetables or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
My former boss’ salads
In my previous workplace, one of my boss’ would eat so healthy I thought she was punishing herself (slight exaggeration ;)). I remember one day asking her why she eats huge salads for lunch. Fish as a snack. Fruits and vegetables when she was randomly hungry. The rare time she got a pizza I remember her loading it up with all sorts of vegetables and anchovies.
That was when I had to ask!
I asked her if she actually enjoyed all these vegetables she was constantly eating. “Don’t you wish you were having burgers, or chips for lunch or snacks sometimes?”
To which she responded, “No, I really enjoy it. I love the taste, and if I don’t have my salads or nuts I miss it”.
This shocked me. I understood eating healthy because you chose it and simply want to be healthy, but to have your tastebuds prefer it over a good steak or some rice and stew… that I didn’t get.
So I continued,
“How did you get this way? Were you always like this?”
She responded, “No. When I was 21 years old, I ate like the average Canadian. Junk food regularly and didn’t really pay attention to what I was putting in my body.
Then one day I decided that eating healthy was important to me, so I began to train my tastebuds to enjoy healthy foods.
I simply started eating healthy and stuck to it for a long, long time”
And a few decades later, her taste buds have now adapted to her inner value system. The love for healthy living and clean eating.
When I heard her say this, I remembered something my husband says consistently, “Food is not just about the taste, you have to think about it as fuel for your body. The fuel you give you body matters.”
So what are the values that you have for your life?
Have you taken the time to figure out what your personal mission statement is?
When you die, what do you want to be said of you?
Now based on your current lifestyle and actions, will that be true?
From the word of God and His leadership, do you know your calling?
Even if it’s not the full picture, do you know where He wants you to focus in the next few seasons?
What is the sphere of influence that He has given to you to bring positive change and use your time to effect?
List out the values or qualities you see in people you admire or are doing work in the sphere you are called to.
You do not have to “be” them. In fact you can’t even if you wanted to. However, you can learn from them, what qualities have contributed to their success.
If you have been called to serve homeless and orphaned children. You want to see the qualities in people like Mother Teresa, Heidi Baker etc that have helped them impact those children. You may not have the same level of influence that they do, but that’s not the point. It’s about affecting the children you are called to, period.
Or if you value having a strong united family while achieving conquests in your career, what are the qualities you see in strong united families around you? Especially those with parents who are making strides in their careers?
If you can’t find any of these types of families in your immediate circle of friends, read books of people who have not only had good success in other areas of life but keep a strong united family while doing it.
3 ways to add value to yourself
Decide On and Strengthen Your Core Values
Many of us have created our value systems based simply on what our culture says and what people around us value. This is the time you want to sit down and think outside the box. What are some core value systems you’ve been taught that are limiting your ability to function at your best?
What are some assumptions or traditions that you’ve grown up with that are destructive?
Love for Comfort Vs Compassion and Courage
Some people grow up in a family that is predominantly unwilling to step out of their comfort zone. And they just figure that’s the way life goes. You do whatever will not rock the boat. Stay low. Even when they see and are really bothered by the state of their society and the mindset of people around them.
They would rather do nothing, complain and agree with the feelings of helplessness that comes when they think about making some form of positive change.
Someone from such a family who personally values courage and compassion will need to work to gain those character traits.
Some people grow up in families that do not value education, so they think that education is a waste of time and money even if they have the potential (and would thrive) in a professional position. It doesn’t even cross their minds because education and jobs that require it is not a valued priority in their environment.
Do an analysis.
Look at your goals and see what value systems have previously held you back from achieving them.
Then begin to develop a new value system based on the life God has called you to live
Get Good Information
You are a product of what you are exposed to. The information and knowledge that you receive. And guess what? You can control that!!!
You are able to determine what influences your personality and way of thought. No one is forcing you to sit down and fill your mind with empty nothingness from constant entertainment or nonsensical information.
So choose to spend time doing something of high value. Purposely fill your mind with information that will help you begin to reflect that inner value system.
There are two ways to do this. First of all, get to know God. He is the only One who can lead your process of change while keeping you from becoming proud as you grow.
Now after your have grounded your growth in Jesus Christ and the Word of God, you need to-
Read books! Watch teaching videos! Listen to valuable material within the field you want to grow in.
While you drive, don’t waste time filling your mind with stressful news that adds nothing to your life. Instead, listen to audiobooks, teachings, sermons, training sessions.
I love long distance trips in my car (1 hour and up) because it gives me an opportunity to log in to “iTunes University” which is what I call my audiobook playlist.
I have read so many books I simply wouldn’t have had the time to sit down and read. They transform my car rides into times of spiritual, professional, motivational growth and check me on my character.
These things will add value to you. You should take time to do it.
Change Your Patterns or Habits
It’s not enough to give yourself new information if you are not willing to apply it and begin to change.
You have all heard me quote my father many many times, but there is something he says which I believe is absolutely powerful.
Wisdom is knowing what to do.
Skill is knowing how to do it.
Virtue is getting it DONE!
This is the part where you build your virtue by actually putting into practice the things you’re learning.
For example, you may notice that you usually sink into comparison and self-hatred when people compare you with your siblings. Or when you’re compared with others who graduated from your field and have had great “success”.
In this case, you need to choose to stop being affected by other people’s opinions of you.
If this is a genuine struggle for you, I recommend you read the book “Dealing with the rejection and praise of man”. Then pray for freedom and take necessary actions to stop the comparison.
Start by looking at what the bible says about comparison.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
2 Corinthians 10:12
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Then ask yourself, what are some new patterns I can create? What are the new habits I can form because of this constant pressure?
For example, you can take each moment you’re tempted to compare yourself to your sibling, to actually pray for them.
Build that habit.
Begin to pray for each person you are compared with by others or within yourself.
Over time that you will begin to see them from God’s perspective. To love them more genuinely as you pray, leaving less room for comparison and jealousy.
So the next time you sense that drip of time slipping through your fingertips, ask yourself what you did with your “today”.
If you are simply living life assuming that the “you” that currently is, is the best version of you, you are horribly wrong.
You always have much room to grow and there is always a way to do it.
You are never stuck with your current habits and hangups.
If you choose to change, you will.
If you choose to remain the same and use complaints or excuses to console yourself about why you are “the way you are”, you will never change.
So today, I challenge you to get a strong foundation for your life and values. Evaluate yourself -honestly- and see the areas you need to grow and change.
Then practice virtue and begin to create that change inside of you by deciding on and strengthening your core values, getting the information you need and changing your patterns and habits to reflect all this.
Sidenote – this blog is a continuation of our original discussion on The Remarkable Value of Time and 4 Ways to Avoid Wasting It! So if you haven’t read that portion of the discussion, go ahead, read it and leave a comment!
What are some value systems that have previously held you back from your life’s goals?
What are some values that you have lived with simply because people around you have taught you to do so?
What are some habits that have been destructive in your life?
What can do you to begin to change them?
What are core values that reflect what you want to be said of you when you die? How do you plan on making sure you live out those core values?