Well, Peyton Manning finally got his ring as over 111.9 million people put their best plans aside and tuned in to the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago. It’s the largest television event of our American year. So large in fact that advertisers paid seemingly nonsensical amounts to have their message broadcast to that Super Bowl crowd. How much exactly did these “prime” slots cost? This year: up to $5 million dollars – for 30 seconds! That’s up from the $4.5 million last year and up 75% since 2005 (according to Fortune magazine). In fact, I know people who watched the Super Bowl just for these ads – they’re supposed to be that good! And hey, if I was an advertiser paying $5 million for those few seconds, I’d certain as anything make sure they were good too.
And now the Super Bowl is done, over, and old news. Yet in the aftermath, a question still nags my mind: how would I live if one minute of my life was worth $10 million? The more I look around our world today, the more I realize that we are living in a much greater, much more epic prime time than the Super Bowl. We live at the most critical time in earth’s history – with an entire universe as an audience. So what does this mean? How would we live if we valued our life as much as the advertisers value a slot during the Super Bowl? How do I get in the game and play like it’s Super Bowl time? I’m sure there are hundreds of answers to these questions. But below are six that I can personally recommend.
1. Train. You’re not going to play well if you don’t train well – I’m reasonably certain any NFL player will agree with that. And any advertiser will tell you they didn’t throw together their $5 million ad the night before! So what are you doing to become better trained to live for God? What are you doing to prepare? Maybe it’s time for your personal devotions to come up a notch. Try committing to it for one month. Maybe it’s finally time to do those Bible studies you’ve been wanting to finish so that you know how to answer your friend the next time he asks you what happens when we die or how to get to know Jesus personally. I’ve even had the privilege of working with several amazing evangelism training schools that offer both shorter intensives and longer training programs especially focused on how to grow in your faith and share it with others! The opportunities are there. But big step or small step, training happens now.
2. Use what you have. I used to complain that I had “half talents.” There were a number of things I could do a little bit of, but there wasn’t much I felt I could do well. There were always people who could do better! So I did little. But then I heard David Asscherick preach a sermon called “Stir What You Got.” And the basic premise was, “If I don’t use what I have now, how can I expect God to give me more?” I know many who don’t want to share the gospel because they feel they don’t know enough about the Bible. But I’ve found witnessing to be kind of like learning a language – you can study it in the textbooks for years on end, but if you don’t go out and start trying to speak it, rough as it may be, you’ll never really learn the language. To him who uses what he has, more will be given (see Matthew 25:14-29).
3, Don’t wait. Later…. There’s always later… But we all know later never comes. Like the room you’re going to clean “later,” the home improvement project you’re going to get to “later”… We know all too well how that one goes. If you’re waiting to do something for God until after you finish school, you’re waiting far too long. If you’re waiting till you have a different job, the kids are older, or whatever else, you’ll always be waiting. Yes, there are times that we have differing capacities due to our circumstances. But I guarantee you there’s something you can do now. Find it. Do it. Don’t wait.
4. Get rid of the leeches. There are things that, while maybe not inherently “wrong,” will prevent you from playing the game well. When I was growing up for instance, I was addicted to television. I say “addicted” because I killed tons of time with it (watching stuff that many times was not beneficial to my connection with God), and I couldn’t seem to limit it and reign it in. Watching one half-hour show somehow became four hours every time… But in college I came to a point where God was working in my life and I wanted to grow with Him. So I decided to give up TV. And it wasn’t because I heard a sermon on the evils of drama or the entertainment industry – in fact I’d heard those and not been moved. I gave it up because something else was more important to me now. I wanted my growth with God more. I wanted my time more. Prime time TV was eating up my life’s prime time. And it needed to go. Now for you it may be something totally different! I’m not here to bash TV. But I challenge you, ask God what might be holding you back from going all-out with Him. Ask Him to show you the leeches – whether they’re overtly sinful and you know it, or seemingly benign yet distracting. Then ask Him for both the desire and strength to make a change. You may just find a beautiful freedom you’ve never before experienced (Hebrews 12:1).
5. Build a team. I would never have stepped out to do ministry for the Lord had it not been for some godly friends and mentors that encouraged me. These were the people that said, “Michelle, I think you can do more than this.” They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. And now, as a teacher, I consider it one of my greatest opportunities to give the gift of belief to others. I’ve heard that we all need three groups of people in our lives: people who minister to us, people we minister with, and people we minister to. We need community. We need not only to help people, we also need people who help us – who are in it with us. If you are privileged enough to have some of these people in your life, start investing in them and strengthening that community. If you don’t, pray for it. The Lord knows what you need, and He can provide – sometimes in unexpected ways.
6. Consider doing something crazy. Here’s where I go a little 1 Corinthians 7:25 where Paul essentially says, “I have no commandment from the Lord, but in my opinion…” So here’s my opinion: I personally believe that many of us stop short of what God’s calling us to. Maybe we see the traditional path for life and stop there: Go to school, get a job, make money, have a family, try to help people and support my local church. Don’t get me wrong, these things are wonderful and good! But some of you may be called to giving your life to service in unconventional ways. When God was working in my life during college and I began doing the little that I could for Him, He started expanding my burden to do more. Suddenly I wasn’t content with the traditional career path I’d been pursuing. For the first time I began to contemplate different missionary and ministry possibilities that both scared me and scared my family! I remember being told, “Well, follow God, but make sure to think about your future!” And there was wisdom in that statement. But also danger. I sometimes see young people, on fire and desiring to do something for God, putting it off or never doing it because of well meaning friends and family who told them they should really finish college first, get a job first, go to graduate school first… And sometimes this may be good advice – don’t just disregard reason and sound counsel. But I will testify one thing from personal experience: Time that you take for God is never wasted. And in His time, He will take care of your future. For me, my decision to risk for God led to a very different career path than the accountant I was trained to be. I make less money than most of my peers. I have less stuff than they do. Yet I don’t regret it in the least. I’ve traveled, I’ve grown, I’ve gotten to become a better leader, I’ve had some of the hardest yet most fulfilling experiences, and it’s changed who I am and how I see the world in ways I would never trade.
Your path will be different than mine. You may have family and financial obligations that don’t allow such radical abandon at this point in time! But some of you are called to much more than a traditional path during this “prime time” era. I believe there are future missionaries, evangelists, entrepreneurs and industry leaders who will be reading this. Doing something radical for God doesn’t mean you necessarily need drop everything and become a pastor. It doesn’t mean you won’t work in the secular world (there’s a huge mission field there). It doesn’t mean you won’t get an education (for those wondering what happened to mine, the Lord provided ways to finish both a bachelor’s and master’s degree along the way – without debt). But it may mean you put your future on the line and ask God what living in “prime time” might mean for you. It might mean considering doing something a little “crazy” as He leads the way. It could look different than the world’s definition of “success.” It could change your life for a season (like maximizing your young and single years), or it may change your life permanently. Again, this is Michelle speaking. But I challenge you to pray about it. And however it applies to you, take it for what it’s worth 😉
In Romans 13:11 Paul challenges us to live “knowing the time.” I don’t know how long this prime time will last. Our political, finical, and social world is changing rapidly (don’t start me on politics right now…). All you have to do is look around to realize things can’t stay as “business as usual” for too much longer. But whether we have one year or 90, I hope you live your life like it’s worth $10 dollars per minute. Don’t wait for the next Super Bowl. Prime time is now.