An e-VALUE-ation, or Addition by Subtraction

Hey, it’s a Monday, so I thought it would be a good idea to blow up everything and start over.

A good time to evaluate the stuff in my life. You know, all the stuff.

So this is the question I’ve been asking:

Does (whatever) add value to my life?

That’s it. The only requirement.

I define adding value as increased joy, pleasure, intellect, health, love, peace, hope (all framed within my Judeo/Christian tradition).

Simple enough.

addition

So I started looking at my daily routine, things I spend my time/money/talents on, through the lens of added value. Keep doing, quit doing, add, subtract…? Here’s some of what I came up with:

Exercise: Yes, and more of it! I have a treadmill in my home office, so I really have no excuse in this area. I walk each morning, but want to add a walk later in the day.

Water: Yes, and more of it! Which means no! to Diet Sundrop. This has been a continual battle for me, but one I’m committed to winning. No more soda.

Prayer/Meditation: Yes, and more of it! I practice Centering Prayer, which keeps me focused and…well, centered. If you’re not familiar with the practice, more info here. As I try to make clear to everyone who asks, CP is not a substitute for any other prayer practice you use (petitionary, confessional, thankful, etc.). It is in addition to, not in place of, other prayer times in your life. It works for me on so many levels.

Social Media: Hmmm…this was a tough one. But remember the qualification: does it add value to my life?

Facebook? No. Facebook has morphed from a wonderful communication tool to a platform for game requests and shared recipes. Neither of which I am adept at nor interested in. So goodbye to Facebook. I will continue to monitor and post to our church FB page, which is a great tool, and IMHO, what Facebook was designed to be.

Twitter? Yes, and more of it! I find great value in the people I follow (I only follow people who add value, so I control that aspect), and enjoy the level of communication in quick, manageable pieces.

Google+? Still working on this, but again, I only communicate with folks that add value to my life, either personally or professionally. I control the input.

The bottom line with social media (or any media for that matter) is this: why would I follow/listen to anyone who speaks negativity into my life? Life is too short, and there’s too much at stake, to listen to people who bring me down or wear me down. No thanks.

Note: I turned off all notifications to my phone from social media and email. I check these sites only when I have time or the desire. Feeling obligated to check my phone constantly was a time-killer, and socially rude.

Reading/Study: Yes, and more of it! I have re-committed to reading only what brings value to me personally or professionally. Which for me means more spiritually and theologically-based books. Classics. More C.S. Lewis, Barth, Kung, Calvin, Edwards, etc. And more recent authors: Len Sweet, Frank Viola, Kevin DeYoung, Carson, Stott, Scot McKnight, etc.

I have begun to read more slowly, carefully, and reflectively. In addition, I have begun micro-journaling. I don’t spend hours with Dear Diary, but I keep a Moleskine  planner/journal with thoughts, quotes, pics, ideas, sermon seeds, etc. on a daily basis. Kind of my positive creative power source.

Disclaimer: I still leave room for reading humor and whimsy, to make sure I don’t get too stodgy. A little Tom Robbins, David Sedaris, and Winnie-the-Pooh keeps me balanced.

Email/Voicemail: I have chosen not to respond to hateful emails or voicemails. This happens rarely, but often enough to mention it. I forward these to that round file in the sky. Again, don’t have time for the haters!

As a pastor, challenging people and situations come with the territory. Tough issues must be dealt with. Leadership is not always pick-and-choose. Some things are just not in our control. And by God’s grace, we are able to handle these speed bumps and move on. But…

…regarding the things I can control, I will no longer allow these things (or people) to kill my time, my vision, or my relationships.

People: I don’t have too many ‘Debbie Downers’ in my life; they rarely gain an audience, if I can help it. I choose to surround myself with people who add value (sometimes that means speaking the truth in love, but that is adding value!). Think about the people in your life who demand so much of your time. Go ahead, think about it. Apart from those who legitimately need counseling/compassion/a good swift kick in the rear, what are they adding to your life? And on the flip side, are you demanding the attention of others, and dragging them down? Stop doing that.

Availability: There are times during the week that I make myself unavailable; meal times with my family, for example. My day off (Tuesday). It’s important to keep things in perspective, and to keep them prioritized.

Men and women in ministry tend to feel that they have to be everything to everybody, all the time. No, no, and no. We can’t fix everything, we can’t help everybody, and we can’t neglect our own health and sanity to do it. I’m really trying to do better in this area.

You get the idea. There’s plenty more. I’m sure you have a bunch you could add. 

So ask the simple question, and ask it regularly:

Does (whatever) add value to my life?

If not, JUST. SAY. NO.

Your body, mind, and soul will thank you. As will your loved ones.

Photo: FeeBeeDee/Flickr/CC

About pastoroftheprez

Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Kings Mountain, NC.
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