I'm kind of a list person. I start my day with the list of things I need/want to accomplish in that day. Things that really I should just do I put on the list for the sheer joy of crossing them off, things like "devotions" or "run". I've been known to even put "take a shower" on my list! Just so I get to cross it off! I get this list making from my mom. I once ran across a list of hers that was titled "Lists I Need to Make". Yes, she made a list of her lists!
Now, I don't let the lists rule my life. I am allowed to do things that aren't on my list, like eat or breath. And it is a rare day indeed when I get everything crossed of my list. I'm perfectly ok with carrying something over to tomorrows list. You know I will have one, I'm a list person.
At least I was... I'm in the process of reading "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself" by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert. This isn't exactly what I choose to read in my free time, it's assigned reading for an upcoming trip to Haiti. But the book has been great and it really makes you think! In one section the authors discuss the cultural differences that impact the effectiveness of short-term missions trips. One of the HUGE cultural differences that I personally had never thought of was our view of time.
To most Americans "time is money!" Time is something that can be wasted, it is finite and a very valuable resource. We desire to accomplish as much as we can in the short amount of time we have. And no matter how much time we have, it's never enough. We make lists to increase our efficiency, we set alerts on our phone to keep us on schedule, we are highly productive and as a whole, we put out a lot of "product" at the end of the day.
Other cultures, like in Mexico, Africa and the Middle East don't view time this way. They view time as unlimited, they have "all the time in the world." Schedules are more like suggestions than really how they plan to spend the day. More important than accomplishing any task is forming a deep relationship with the people around them. As a result these cultures don't have a big end "product" at the end of their day, but they have strong family roots and a community that is close.
This has really made me think. Which one would I rather be like? Would I rather get my list done or build a relationship? Would I rather put a product out or nurture a friendship? Would I rather have a clean house or play with my kids? (if you've read this blog before you know that answer!) I know that there are times that we need to get things done. Jobs are demanding, houses do need to be cleaned (occasionally), and errands need to be run. But you can't deny that relationships need to be built, friendships need to be nurtured and kids need to be played with. I think I know what I choose, at least today. I'm putting my list away. Just someone remind me to shower!