How much is your time worth?
Literally. If you had to place a monetary value on it, what would it be? If I offered to “buy” a year of your life, what would you take for it? If I offered you a job you’d hate, in a place you don’t want to live, and I said you had to stay for one year? Would you take it? What if I paid you a salary of a million dollars?
Most people probably think they could tough it out for a year. What if after that year I made the same offer, but for two years at two million dollars? What if after that I offered 20 million dollars, but you had to do the job for 20 years? At some point you’d determine that lots of money is great, but not if you trade away years of your life.
Theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote in “The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It” about the need for Christians to value time above the things of the world. “Time is very precious, because when it is past, it cannot be recovered. There are many things which men possess, which if they part with, they can obtain them again…”
I remember at age 17 needing to have a pretty crummy job so I could pay for my car and the gas to put in it … which I’d then drive to the job … which I needed to keep so I could afford the car … whose main purpose was to drive to the job … which paid me just enough to fill up the car. “Wait a second; something doesn’t add up here. People really do this for 50 years of their life?” I asked my parents who smiled and nodded.
Our time on this earth is exceedingly short. God says we’re like a mist that rises and falls, and disappears afterward (James 4:14). Sure there was “stuff” I wanted to buy and bills I had to pay, but I decided I’d rather have less stuff and try to reduce my bills than begin the 50-year work cycle I saw the rest of the world engage in. It’s nice to “keep up with the Joneses” until you realize the Joneses are so busy working they don’t have the time to enjoy the things they bought.
15 Cents vs. 15 Minutes of Your Life
Recently I was mailing a package and got in line for the automated postage machine. Soon I overheard the woman at the machine two spots ahead of me attempting to purchase a postcard stamp. That machine apparently didn’t sell those, and I heard her say, “I don’t want a first-class stamp. I want a postcard stamp.” A first-class stamp would work just as well but be 15 cents more expensive.
She canceled the transaction and walked to the normal (much longer) line. Part of me began to process what I’d do next. I’d walk over to her and explain the money versus time concept. The other line would easily take an additional 15 minutes to wait on, and surely she valued her time more than 15 cents. She’d of course thank me for changing her outlook on life. There would probably be balloons and confetti.
Instead as I snapped out of my day dream, she’d already gotten in the other line. Now my thoughts shifted to wondering what her reasoning was. I assumed she wasn’t willing to spend the extra 15 cents on the stamp. But maybe she didn’t know she could use a regular stamp, and she was having tough financial times that 15 cents seemed like a lot to her. I don’t know for sure, but even anecdotally, it made me curious how much 15 minutes of her life was worth to her. I wondered how much it was worth to me.
How Much Is Your Time Worth To You?
The Bible tells us our time is tremendously valuable, with each day literally fleeing away as an athlete running a race or a ship navigating the water (Job 9:25-27). If you had an extra 15 minutes each day, what could you accomplish? How about an extra hour? When placing a value on time versus money, consider doing everything you can to give yourself more of the most precious resource God has provided. Consider that while the heavenly kingdom is not constrained by the limitations of time, our span of years on this earth most certainly is.
Do you find yourself making this trade: time for money? Or vice-versa, are you more apt to spend money if it will provide you with more free time to enjoy the things that make you happy? How much do you value your time? What is 15 minutes of your life worth to you?