Six Minutes Can Change Your Life

Six Minutes Can Change Your Life

By now you should be able to recognize in yourself the traits of either the Doer or the Dreamer. Perhaps you’ve even found yourself looking for the happiness that supposedly is found within. With those shadows of our heart exposed, we now come to the place where we can discover how to overcome the Great Lie and find the happiness which Doers and Dreamers spend their lives chasing after.

The first thing we must do is accept that we must turn toward our Creator in order to find purpose, joy, and success, all of which are rooted in a relationship with Him. This all begins with our making regular time for God in our life. No matter how busy, convoluted, or chaotic our life may be, we must actively carve out time to sustain our relationship with God.

The first thing we must do is accept that we must turn toward our Creator in order to find purpose, joy, and success, all of which are rooted in a relationship with Him.

The words of Paul provide us with inspiration about how we’re to make time for God: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16‑18). Notice Paul doesn’t say “some of the time,” or “every other week,” or “only on Sunday.” He’s encouraging this Macedonian church to be constantly looking toward God. Not in some legalistic or mystical sort of way, but in a real way that touches and interacts with their actual lives.

However, to even begin this journey, we must have a starting point. That starting point is accepting Jesus as who He says He is, and who the Bible says He is: the Son of God, the Lord of all, King of kings, born of a virgin, performer of miracles. He’s the great teacher who came in the flesh, died upon the cross for our sins, and was resurrected, all according to the words and prophecies of the Bible, so we can have covenant fellowship with Him for all eternity.

Before we can go further, this matter has to be settled, because all that comes next is available to us only if we’re in a covenant relationship with God through the power and atonement of Jesus. Otherwise we’re still “outside the gate” and lost within the curse of sin.

If you’ve never called on Jesus, believed in Him, and received forgiveness, now is the time. All the benefits in this book and in the Bible begin with our saying, “Jesus, I believe that You’re who the Bible says You are. I come before You a sinner lost in the darkness. I ask You to forgive me and to make me clean. I declare that You are Lord and King of all, and I ask You to adopt me into Your family and covenant. I ask You to wash me in the power of Your blood and atonement, to give me eternal life, which has its origin in You. I thank You for dying for my sins and enduring the cross, and from this day on I shall live as a member of Your family and live as You did upon the earth.”

Being now in this place of relationship with God, we next have to develop it. This is similar to how you can be very close to some family members, while others you don’t really know. Those you’re close with are those you’ve put in the time to get to know; you’ve shared experiences and conversations with them, and you feel closer. The others, even though you don’t know them, are still your family, and you may see them at a wedding or other occasions, but you have no personal relationship with them beyond that of family ties.

It’s no different between us and the Trinity. We have two options. We can be either close friends or occasional acquaintances. To have that close relationship requires time and effort, and as we’ve seen with the Doers and Dreamers, these are scarce commodities which we’re used to spending on all sorts of other things.

There’s no all-encompassing formula to develop this kind of relationship between us and God (although many have tried to produce one). There’s no step-by-step process that automatically brings us to the level of Abraham and Moses as “friends of God,” or like John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

There’s no all-encompassing formula to develop this kind of relationship between us and God.

Are there signposts to give us a general direction? Yes there are, and the remainder of this book will show those to you. They come in the forms of time and grace.

Tithing Our Time

In church we’re taught that tithing is an important concept in Scripture because it represents giving our best to God. When Abraham wanted to honor God through Melchizedek, he freely and cheerfully gave, knowing that God was trustworthy to keep His promises. Abraham trusted God and saw Him not as just a cosmic entity or simply the source of one’s possessions, but as the source of all creation.

Fast-forward to our modern Christian culture, where we’re taught to give our money to the church—10 percent of all we earn plus any other gifts or offerings that are on our heart. We’re taught that it’s an act of faithfulness to give back to God, not because He needs it, but because it’s an opportunity for loving obedience on our part. As Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 14:14).

Although this concept is taught, very few actually apply this teaching in their own lives. I’m speaking as a member of a church’s financial council, where we have to manage programs that many people demand but few are willing to cover the costs.

The problem we run into these days is that we’ve removed the value assigned to our money. If I were a Jewish shepherd living before Christ, I would find myself evaluating my flock—the little lambs I’d helped feed when they were having trouble suckling, and had risked my life protecting from wild animals, and had watched grow. I had to give away my best—the healthiest and my favorites to God. My tithe was tied directly to my efforts. I was essentially giving the best of my life, my most prizewinning efforts.

Today we’ve separated our money from our efforts. With a swipe of a credit card I can spend money I haven’t yet earned. My paycheck magically shows up in the bank without any effort on my part, and all I see are numbers on a computer screen. There’s no tangible evidence of my work other than numbers and the ending of another week.

Work is seen as the thing we do because we need to eat and pay the bills, yet money always seems to be in short supply. Most people don’t tithe because they feel they’ve fallen so far behind with bills or have overextended themselves so much that there’s nothing left to give. “God doesn’t need this money; I need it to pay the electric company, plus I have to put gas in the car, and I have to buy coffee so I can function at work, and I need the cash for that sale at the mall later this week.”

While a tithe of our money is both scriptural and important, God also wants us to put Him first in all things.

While a tithe of our money is both scriptural and important, God also wants us to put Him first in all things. Time is the most precious commodity in existence. We can trade our time for money or things, but we can’t buy more time. We live life as a series of moments, and all we have is the moment we’re in right now. Money can be printed, gold can be mined, houses can be built, but you can’t create time, and you can’t open up a savings account to store up hours to use another day.

Maybe it’s time to look at this idea of tithing from an entirely different perspective. What if I took the concept of tithing and linked it to my desire to give my all to God?

This would never replace my financial tithing, which is both scriptural and good. Rather, in my desire to give God the best of myself, what if I also give to God the only real thing I have of value—my time? How I spend my time is how I spend my life, and every moment I deliberately focus on God, I change my life for the better. This is so much greater than anything the Doer or the Dreamer could ever imagine or accomplish with where they invest their time.

Consider what Jesus told the religious leaders of His day in Luke 11:42: “Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” The Pharisees were giving to God financially, but they lost the point of it all. They lost sight of God’s heart, and for the sake of religious obligations, they traded away relationship with Him.

For a moment let’s replace my wallet with my clock. Let’s say I’m awake sixteen hours a day. If I wanted to tithe my waking hours, I’m looking at an hour and thirty-six minutes each day. Now, ask anybody who’s already starved for time if they could fit an extra hour and thirty-six minutes into their day to spend with God, and they’d say you’re out of your mind. How could anyone possibly change their life so drastically to even come close to doing that? Isn’t ninety minutes on Sunday morning enough?

But even if you somehow found that much time to give to God—what would you do with it?

But even if you somehow found that much time to give to God—what would you do with it? After the first few minutes, your mind would begin to wander, and it would be a constant battle to get it back. I’m not judging you; I’ve experienced this as well. After two or three minutes, you stare at the ceiling and wonder, “Okay, now what?”

Without any idea of what to do, we can quickly become discouraged or bored, and then a sense of struggle becomes associated with your time with God. Instead of trying to figure out how to set aside so much time in our day, we should just look for a starting point and take it one minute at a time.

One Minute at a Time

Rather than trying to lump the whole tithe of time together, what if we divided this tithe of our time into more bite-sized increments that are easier to control?

In every hour we’re awake, what if we spent six minutes building our relationship with God? What if we then took those six minutes and break them down into separate one-minute exercises—six different things we could talk to God about for one minute each? Every time an hour goes by, and we see the hand of the clock change, we’re prompted to take a minute out of our busyness to pause and turn our mind toward God.

This is where the concept of “six minutes of grace” comes into play. In our time with God each hour, we take these six keys, and we use each one for one minute at a time. By focusing for one minute on each of these six elements, we’re helped to draw closer to God and to align our will with His.

This isn’t just some magic number. And doing it just for the sake of doing it won’t do us any good. It’s a starting point to transform our lives from one which is focused on ourselves to one which is focused on God and our relationship with Him.

Some people will do the six-minute exercises every hour; some will do it only a couple of times a day, and others every other day. What’s important is not checking the “done” box on a list, but really developing a relationship with God.

In my own life, this practice of making room for God hasn’t always been this formal. However, the heart of this concept is what has changed life for the better for my wife and I. This lifestyle has brought us through many rough patches. It’s the cornerstone of our relationship with Jesus. This format is the easiest way to show us what’s important in our lives, and it gives us a guideline on how to fellowship with the great Creator.

The heart of this concept is what has changed life for the better for my wife and I.

We must make room for God, and this approach of tithing our time helps to keep us accountable and focused until the novelty becomes a habit, and the habit becomes a lifestyle which produces fruit in our lives and draws us closer to God.

You can do these exercises out loud, or you can do them silently. It can happen when you’re driving, as each red light gives you a minute or so of opportunity. It can happen while you’re making coffee or breakfast, or while you’re walking, or during the spaces between life’s activities. It can happen anywhere and at any time.

Have we forgotten that God is the most interesting being in all the universe? Yet more often than not, we treat Him like a pet rock sitting on our dresser. Do we actually understand what’s available to us? The One who created everything in Genesis is standing at the door of our lives asking to be a part of it. But like the gentlemen He is, He won’t kick in the door, but will knock ever so gently and wait for us to open up to Him.

We chase after goals, dreams, money, success and happiness—all that feeds the Great Lie—but will we chase after the one thing that actually matters? The one thing that’s more real, powerful, and fulfilling than anything else we could ever dream?

Even if we have only one minute in the entire day, we can purpose to use it to show gratitude to God (more on this in chapter 6). This is the personification of Philippians 4:8, where Paul says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Spend even just a minute in appreciation of God and of all He has done. If the minute has passed and you don’t have any more time, come back to this exercise later when you can. Focus on one step at a time, and spend longer or repeat the ones that are on your heart. Give God your attention—deliberately—one minute at a time.

The desired outcome here is for you to carry on your conversation with God throughout the day, using GRACE as a guideline. Don’t make this a religious exercise, but rather a reminder of how much we need Him throughout our day.

Don’t worry or feel badly if you forget a step, or do the steps out of order, or don’t finish. This is just the starting line for what can become a deep, rich, and meaningful relationship that will bring you so much joy.

The more you repeat the exercise, the more God will become a priority in your life. The time you’re giving Him becomes focused, because each minute has a purpose. Over time, your moments of praise will give you a new sense of purpose in all that you do. Your life will become about doing simple everyday things for the glory of God.

As you begin this journey, I highly recommend that you incorporate journaling into this process. Journaling can be a key factor in making time for God because it forces us to slow down and consider what we’re writing down. It also gives us something to look back on later. We forget so much because of the busyness of life; it’s amazing what falls between the cracks of our mind.

Creative Commons LicenseSix Minutes Can Change Your Life Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Can I Truly Be Happy?

Can I Truly be happy

From a young age, we’re led to believe that success will make us happy. Success will bring us a spouse, money, comfort, a home, stuff to fill that home, and the ability to take nice vacations. How often as a child did we see the phrase “happily ever after” flash across the screen?

The poor orphan goes on an adventure and becomes the king or queen of the land, or becomes a great hero in battle. It’s the idea that if we just sit around and go about our mundane lives, eventually adventure and rewards will come knocking at our door. Only then can we truly be happy, for just beyond where we are is the place of bliss, contentment, and ease.

This idea, which has been embraced by so many people, gets reinforced as we’re indoctrinated to focus on the externals of life. Yet we tend to forget that these external things aren’t always within our control.

We think the reason we’re unhappy is that we don’t have the things we want—the perfect job, the ideal spouse, or more money in the bank.

We think the reason we’re unhappy is that we don’t have the things we want—the perfect job, the ideal spouse, or more money in the bank. Regardless of what our “white whale” might be, we find ourselves thinking, “If only I had ________, my life would be better.” We idealize the perfect life and attribute our own unhappiness to our failure to possess it.

For some, it’s the white picket fence and the nuclear family. For others, it’s a mansion filled with staff to cook and clean for them. There are those who long to live in the forest, by a lake, or up on a mountain. Each person has an ideal of what their perfect happy life would look like, and they engineer their life to reach those dreams.

I watched my wife buy into these ideals as she followed the script of working hard to achieve the things that all earthly standards testify to as success. I marveled as she became a partner in a successful business with a contract to buy it out completely.

I had married my best friend from high school, who was (and still is) a loving, kind, and attentive spouse. Through our combined efforts, we became financially secure at a young age, thanks to our diligence and many sacrifices. We also regularly attended our church as card-carrying members. I was a member of the church financial council and coauthored the church’s weekly home group curriculum. Later I founded Conway Christian Resources and published my first book, Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Beliefs.

We found what many others have discovered: that the hard work put in to achieve our dream rewarded us with only more hard work.

From the outside, life looked great, but deep inside something was missing. Success didn’t equal satisfaction. We found what many others have discovered: that the hard work put in to achieve our dream rewarded us with only more hard work. There wasn’t much more happiness in our lives, but only more responsibility and less time to do the things that actually made us happy.

When Succeeding Isn’t Success

The success we’re taught from a young age to strive toward is something external. And being external, it’s only temporary. That new car will rust out, fall apart, and end up one day in a wrecking yard. That new job title will eventually go to someone else, if the company even survives that long. That nest egg will eventually get spent, and the gains erode as they’re taxed into oblivion.

All these things we work toward either degrade, disappear, or become valueless. But at the same time, all these things tell us (and those around us) that we’re successful, that we’ve achieved and arrived at a higher and better level of existence.

How will I know if I’ve succeeded if I can’t have things others are unable to possess? How will people around me know that I’m superior and successful unless they can recognize it half a mile away?

It’s the idea that “the person with the most stuff wins,” so by definition shouldn’t that person be the happiest of them all? In reality, those with the most stuff can be the most miserable, because they constantly fear losing all they have. They’re unable to enjoy it and be happy, because around every corner is someone looking to become happy at their expense by taking what they have.

On the other hand, there are those who feel that they haven’t succeeded, and they spend their time grumbling and complaining that the grass isn’t as green for them as it is for others. They look at the lush, well-manicured lawns of the successful and believe the lie that they’d be happier if their lawn looked like that. Once again, it’s the externals that are used to tell us and others if we’re happy or not.

“The greener the grass, the happier the life” is the idea accepted by many, but at no point do they question why the grass is greener. Maybe it’s because the successful person hires someone to make it like that, because they’re so busy they could never do it on their own. Or it could be that the other person actually put in the time and effort to make it look that way. Those who grumble and complain about their grass tend to be those who are unwilling to put in the work to make it better.

I remember when I moved into a house with three lilac bushes on the property. They were in rough shape and hadn’t produced flowers for several years. I had three choices. I could leave them as they were and hope for the best, I could cut them down, or I could put in some effort and fix them. It took two years of pruning, fertilizing, watering, and managing, but finally those bushes sprouted their lilacs for the first time in years.

Did this bring a sense of accomplishment? Yes. Did it make the yard look better? Yes. Did it make me happy? No. I was glad that my effort brought about a good result, but it didn’t change how I felt on the inside. To top it off, the summer that the lilacs finally bloomed was also the same summer that we moved across the country. After all the hours of work I put in, the benefits were to be enjoyed by another family.

I was glad that my effort brought about a good result, but it didn’t change how I felt on the inside.

There has to be more to life than houses, cars, and landscaping, but if these aren’t the keys to happiness, what is? Since trying to solve the matters of happiness with the external wasn’t the answer, my wife looked inwardly. She turned to self-help books, having been reading them since she was a teenager.

It wasn’t because something was wrong, but in response to her aching for more. There was something missing, and yet the books couldn’t create inner peace or transform their information into joy. Any fix was only temporary relief, a distraction from the emptiness and the gnawing feeling that in the midst of a fairy tale existence, something was still missing.

Inside, there’s a cry—and not only in myself, because I’ve heard that cry everywhere: “I know I was made for more.” It’s the feeling of unfulfilled purpose. It weighs on my heart and leaves me unsatisfied. Stuff doesn’t satisfy it, information doesn’t satisfy it. Neither do titles, success, or the praises of others.

I know I was made for more.

The Vanity of Vanity

What can you do when you’ve done everything right and found it lacking? This is what we and many other people have found out about life. Even Solomon dedicated the book of Ecclesiastes to this idea. The things we can buy at a store cannot make us happy over the long-term. We see that everything either fades away or forces us to pursue something else.

This is what’s referred to as vanity, where we have a high view of something or ourselves, but in the end it’s useless. It’s like dressing up a salmon in a top hat and a coat while calling it Lord Sebastian the Salmon, Ruler of All in the River. It doesn’t matter; you wasted your money, and no matter how that salmon was dressed up, it still ends up in an oven with some lemon and seasoning sprinkled over it.

Solomon was the richest man in the land, but still felt hollow. He eventually drifted away from God and into idolatry. He had gold, silver, wisdom, and women, but each of those things on their own couldn’t produce happiness, joy, or purpose in life. Instead, these things got in the way of his true purpose and brought about dark consequences which shadowed his nation for generations.

So what then can we do? Should we give up material success and possessions in pursuit of the spiritual? Many have tried this and failed. The idea of shunning everything made of matter was the source of many troubles for the church, and it did nothing to fill the void. If we were all to abandon what we have and hide out in a cave seeking enlightenment, we would actually be ill-equipped to meet the needs of the church and the world around us.

On the other end of the spectrum, what if we gave up the spiritual in pursuit of greater success? Again this leaves us off balance and without any type of lasting joy.

Many things we consider to be the finishing line are nothing more than tools to be used to get us to the actual finishing line. Money can be good if it’s used correctly. Possessions can be helpful and enjoyed if we understand their place in our lives. A career can be good if it’s balanced with the rest of our lives. Vanity comes when these things or anything else takes control of our lives, or we find ourselves in an endless chase for the next big thing to achieve or buy.

Many things we consider to be the finishing line are nothing more than tools to be used to get us to the actual finishing line.

I routinely find myself looking at what I have and wondering if any of it is worth it. All the time and effort that went into earning money so these things can sit on my shelf and get dusty. The same goes for my music hobby. I know spending money on a guitar pedal won’t make me happy, but it sounds good. At other times I think everything’s just a giant waste, and I regret spending the money rather than saving it where it could grow (unless the stock market has something to say about it).

Do I enjoy my hobbies? Yes, most of the time, but they cannot make me truly happy. Instead, they help occupy the time, sometimes to avoid life and other times to just unwind from it. No matter how I feel, all those things will either break down, get sold (or given away), or thrown in the trash. All that expectation, research, and the purchasing and using of those things will eventually bring about a day where it doesn’t matter anymore.

This isn’t meant to be a depressing look at our lives, but what’s being shown here is a picture that most people don’t like to look at. The reality is this: Deep down, what we hold dear and see as valuable will inevitably control our thoughts, desires, and time. If we place more value on money than on people, then our lives will reflect that. If we put more value on achievement than on family, our lives will reflect that. If we put more value on being entertained than on true joy, our lives will follow that course like a sailboat on a river.

Appreciation gets lost when we look for the greenest grass or biggest house. I had a friend who was quite well off financially, and when he encountered new people trying to be his friend, he would test them. It wasn’t something big or grand; he would give them a penny (or a nickel), and see how they reacted. If they were grateful and thankful, he invested time and friendship into them, because they weren’t driven by his bank account. If they tossed the penny aside, or complained or asked for more, he cut them out of his life. He was looking for people who valued him more than his money, or what he could do for them.

Why Am I Still Not Happy?

We see then that being happy doesn’t automatically come from things, position, pride, or gold. It comes from something deeper which cannot be bought. This has to do with what we perceive to be important and whether or not we can be appreciative of whatever we have at the time.

We see that many people turn to the wrong things to try and answer the question, “Can I be happy?” We turn to entertainment, sex, drugs, music, meditation, exercise, isolation, shopping, food, and a host of other things to try and coax some happiness out of this life. Happiness is fleeting and subject to so many variables. It’s also incredibly picky, and thrives on unrealistic expectations.

Wanting to be happy is only part of the equation, along with understanding our purpose and looking for something that goes beyond our natural lives. The truth is that we cannot buy this happiness because we can’t afford the price of it. No one can, because happiness doesn’t overcome life, and the two are most often at odds with each other.

The truth is that we cannot buy this happiness because we can’t afford the price of it. No one can, because happiness doesn’t overcome life, and the two are most often at odds with each other.

Understanding this conflict of expectation versus reality, we can start to come to terms with our lives and what to expect out of them. No longer should we continue to live according to “happily ever after”; rather, we should be hoping that our life can be summed up by the phrase “joy everlasting.” There’s something greater at work here, and how we can get to that place is determined by what kind of person we are.

Creative Commons LicenseCan I Truly Be Happy? Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.