Many of you will recognize the title of this post as the tag line for the Church’s latest ad campaign. A previous campaign proclaimed, “Time? I’ve got as much as anybody!” We in the Church are obsessed with time. In a post below, Ady discusses the challenges of being an LDS woman and a scientist. Like all of us, Ady feels the pull of various responsibilities, and the constraints imposed by the scarce resource, time. In my view, time management is one of the most important tasks we face in this life.
Please don’t get me wrong. I do not sell Franklin Day Planners or Palms. (Indeed, I once taught an Elder’s Quorum lesson in which I argued that such things were “Satanic,” but that is a topic for another post.) When I talk about time management, therefore, I am not talking about productivity in a worldly sense. Actually, I am talking about what may be the opposite: productivity in a spiritual sense.
In the final accounting (yes, THAT accounting), I believe that we will not be asked to account for our time in any quantitative way. Instead, we will be judged by the quality of our spirits, and the quality of our spirits will reflect the choices we make. As we use our time here wisely, we become more like God. Pretty simple.
Here is the problem: Mormons receive very confusing messages about the proper use of time. What uses of our time will mold us in the image of God? On the one hand, we are told, “No success can compensate for failure in the home.” I believe that, and I am driven to ensure that I do not look back on my family life with regret. On the other hand, we see young fathers and mothers called to significant positions of responsibility in the Church (e.g., bishops and R.S. presidents). In addition, Mormons praise other members who are highly accomplished in their professions (Steve Young, Dallin Oaks, Rex Lee, Russell Nelson, Jon Huntsman, Jane Clayson, etc.). Students at BYU are admonished to become “the best” at whatever they do, and we assume that excellence in any (moral) pursuit must be somewhat Godlike. But, of course, being one’s professional best — as opposed to being merely competent — requires some sacrifice (perhaps substantial) of family time.
So, I wonder, how do we resolve these conflicts on the ground? My approach is pretty ad hoc. My life goes from intense work to intense family interaction, with some periods of “normality” sprinkled in. I cannot do my job in eight hours a day. Most days, I work about 12 hours, and often I work more, though I am fortunate to be able to do some of that at home. I usually eat dinner with my family, and I try to play with or talk to each of my children every day. Despite my efforts, guilt is a constant companion. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Or am I just obsessing?