Recently I attended a retirement party for a highly esteemed colleague. It was an excellent retirement party. The location was well-chosen, the food was of great quality, the dinner conversation was delightful, speakers chosen to present the honoree were erudite and funny and the recipient of the honor as humble as one can imagine. However, as we left, people kept saying: I cannot believe that such a wonderful program took only so much time. The surprise was that the event finished about 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
This was probably the first retirement party that I went to which finished in time. Usually they are announced for 3 hours and then end up being more than four hours. While it is a retirement party for the honoree, the majority of the attendees have not retired. They are young couples that have babysitters for their children; some have to finish assignments, papers and most have to rise early for the next morning and go to work.
Whenever I think of how precious is our time, I always remember one of my seminary friends who was known as ‘the breaking bread friend’. He got this nickname because he used to say, “Let us get together and break bread”. He would even give you a date – a breakfast date or lunch date. The problem was that most of us that knew him were aware that this friend would rarely show up for these events. What he said was very nice, even biblical, but he did not keep his promise. We felt that he did not respect our time.
The reason for the retirement party to be so memorable was that it was meticulously planned and executed. The organizers started exactly when they announced that they would start. The letters sent to each of the people on the platform told them exactly what they had to do and when. The emcee announced the program and told how long each person would speak and he did not make any comments on the speakers. Each speech was sufficient in and of itself. It did not need additional comment.
This past September I listened to a well-known preacher who said: As I am aging, I find that things that I have increase – more knowledge, more friends, more prestige, and more money. What I have less is time to be productive. I find that there are moments when I want to say to some people: I would rather give you some of my money than some of my time. In our over-scheduled, hectic world time is more precious than gold. At what age we realize the worth of this commodity varies.
The Psalmist writes in 90:12: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” In the time that God has given to us, he is an equal distributor. Each one of us has 24 hours – no more, no less. At the end of each day the questions looms large over our lives – have we take this precious commodity that God distributes to us equally and have we become wiser, more spiritual, more committed to the Kingdom of God, and more of a blessing to our fellow humans beings?
Wise people use their time judiciously, effectively, beneficially. I want to honor you by demonstrating that I know that your time is very precious and I pray that you will do the same to others.