One of the classes I am taking as part of the Pathway program through BYU-Idaho, as I work toward my goal of obtaining my college degree, is a General Studies class. I have really enjoyed this class that focuses on strengthening study skills but also life skills. Some of the topics we have covered weekly have included goal setting, money management and time management. As part of our commitment to attend a weekly gathering with students participating in the same program, we are required to sign up to teach a class during the semester as the lead student. A few weeks ago it was my week to teach and my topic was “time management,” something I am personally passionate about.
After teaching the lesson I prepared to my Pathway peers, I decided I might as well take advantage of the time I had invested in preparing the lesson and get a “round 2” out of the lesson. On Sunday night we had our weekly family home evening lesson on the topic of being good stewards of our time.
I began my lesson with an object lesson.
I had a large bowl of jelly beans.
I passed around the bowl of jelly beans with a stack of cups and asked each person to fill their cup with as many jelly beans as they wanted. There were only two rules…
- They had to take at least 1 jelly bean.
- They couldn’t eat any of their jelly beans until the end of the lesson.
And then I showed this video:
As everyone shared their feeling about the video, I used a “How many days have I been alive?” calculator online to let everyone know how many of their jelly beans they have used so far.
I then asked everyone to count the jelly beans in the cup and consider what they would do if the number of jelly beans in their cups actually represented the number of days they had left on the earth…
Would that have an effect on how they spent their time?
As they pondered that question, I shared the following quote by Neal A. Maxwell:
“The time we have been given here on earth is only a very small part of our existence. We must understand our time here in the eternal context of the Plan of Salvation. The way we use our time will only change when the way we feel about our time changes. As children of God we are stewards of time and we will be held accountable for how we use it. The way we use our time will determine what we become in this life and in eternity. We can choose to spend our time or invest our time. By keeping the commandments and our covenants we invest our time in the promises God has given us. This investment will bring eternal rewards.
“Time is, for all of us, a gift from God. It is given to us as a part of our mortal stewardship”
With this quote serving as the foundation for the next part of the lesson, we had a mini financial lesson of the effects of spending vs investing. The kids reached the conclusion that money spent was money lost. It couldn’t be retrieved again. While money invested was money that kept paying dividends well into the future.
I then gave each family member an index card and asked them to count the jelly beans in their cup and write that number at the top of their index card, representing the number of days they have left here in earth. I then asked them, if that were true, how would they use the days they have left? Each family member was asked to thoughtfully create a list of how they would use their remaining days on earth.
The room fell silent as everyone began writing their thoughts on paper. It was a thought-provoking and powerful activity.
When everyone was done writing we went around the room and shared our thoughts.
Some of the items included on various lists were:
Spend time with family, travel, be easier on myself, serve others, face my fears, help people, apologize, give away my things to the needy, leave letters for loved ones, and pray.
We then analyzed our lists and weighed their value, pondering whether each item on our list was a way to “spend time” or an “investment” of our time. As we looked at the things we each wrote down, all were investments of time…activities that produced long term/ eternal dividends.
We ended our family night lesson with a game. Each player used the jellybeans in their cup, along with a stack of toothpicks, to build a tower. The rule was they had a set amount of time to build their tower, but didn’t know when their time would end. The goal was to build the tallest tower that could stand up independently…
Then the race began.
It was interesting to see each kid’s strategies, with some focused of making sure they had a firm foundation before trying to move upward, while others, in a panic of not knowing when the timer might “bing,” began building upward without having established a secure base…
A decision they soon regretted.
As they built their jelly bean towers we discussed the spiritual lessons to be found within the object lesson.
Rusty ended up the winner of the jelly bean race, but all enjoyed the fruits of their labors. (There was a chocolate treat for those who weren’t allowed jelly beans due to braces.)
The lesson was a powerful reminder that our time on earth is finite.
We have no idea when we will reach the last jelly bean in our cup, so it is important that we invest the gift of time that the Lord has given us into those activities that have eternal value, rather than simply spending the minutes of our day on things that have no value…
For one day we will all stand before our Maker, and we will account for the way we used the time He blessed us with. Let us all take inventory of the way we are spending our time, and as we enter this holiday season may we prioritize the “important” over what some may consider “the urgent” tasks of the holiday season,
And invest in the things that matter most.