Titus Benton

Time moves incredibly fast.

So fast that it probably seems to you like Christmas was a month ago and not two weeks. Even the chorus of “Happy New Year” has quieted, with most folks already returning to business as usual.

Speaking of time moving quickly, did you hear it is 2020? It’s got people asking questions:

Where are those flying cars we were promised?

Or the self-driving ones, at least?

I’ll be honest — I’d settle for gas pumps that ask a two or three fewer questions. So much that was supposed to happen by now hasn’t yet. It’s true for the world. It’s true for a nation (why do we still have to deal with things like poverty, racism, and polarizing politics?).

It is also true for individuals, and I suspect you’ve done some reflection in recent weeks on how life was for you in the last decade.

And yet for everything that we expected to happen (or hoped would) that hasn’t, I’ll bet there are two or three we never foresaw that have.

In 2010, I still lived in a suburb of Saint Louis. I was a student pastor at a church there, and I had been married eight years. My daughter was five. My son was two. I turned 29 that year.

In the decade that followed, a lot changed. We now live in a suburb of Houston, Texas. My wife and I will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary this year. My daughter will get her driver’s permit. My son will be a seventh grader before the end of 2020. I’ve gone from being a student pastor to a campus pastor to a nonprofit executive. I’ve published a couple books. I taught some college courses. I went to India, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Israel.

I’ve learned some really hard lessons. People I trusted have betrayed me. People I loved have died. Some close friends aren’t so close anymore. I felt plenty of pain and discomfort in the last ten years. I profited from lots of victories and peace, too. Two things are true about it all — the time moved really, really fast. And the only thing that stayed the same was that nothing much stayed the same.

With greetings of “Happy New Year” already feeling outdated, what with how fast time moves and all, we would do well to slow down long enough to think about what the next ten years might bring. Much of this is outside our control, of course. But not all of it is. And if 10 years feels like too long, break it down into smaller chunks. Do whatever you can to not fall victim to the fast-passing time as if you have no say in how your life goes.

While you’re thinking about it, can I suggest a few guiding principles for you?

First of all, prioritize the people you care for. A decade has just passed. That’s about 15% of most of our lives. Few of us get more than seven or eight decades total. As you prepare for the 10 years ahead, we must consider who it is we want to do life with the most, and they shouldn’t get our leftovers. They should get our bests and our firsts.

Secondly, consider how you might be able to make the world a better place. That may sound corny, but much of what is wrong with the world exists because people spend a lot of time posturing for themselves. Power and privilege were never meant to be enjoyed by a select few — they were meant to be leveraged to help those who lacked what they needed. How might you use the next 10 years to lift others up? To improve your community? To make an impact for someone else?

That being said, life is also too short to not be enjoyed. If you aren’t regularly doing things only because you enjoy doing them, I think that should change. Read great books. Eat good food. Get out in nature. Have deep conversations. Get on your motorcycle a little more often, wet a line more often than you did last year, get out some board games on the weekend. Time moves too fast to not spend more time than we do laughing.

2030 is coming. Most of us will be around to see it. We’ll marvel at all the unexpected things that came true. But we aren’t without a say in how the next decade goes. By prioritizing people, investing in things that matter, and not forgetting to enjoy yourself along the way, you can’t lose. Time will still fly. Change will still be unavoidable.

Time will be passing, but you won’t simply be passing with it. You’ll be living and being and growing.

One last time: Happy New Year.