Take Five!

for the week of June 19, 2000
by Rubel Shelly

"Take five!" someone says. And everybody in the room understands. The boss is stepping out to take a phone call. A technician has to change the lighting or rearrange the set. Everybody has been drinking coffee and needs a restroom break. So somebody gives permission to everyone present: "Take five!"

Not a lot can be done in five minutes. Even if we understand that the five- minute break may actually extend to ten, twenty, or more minutes. We're all still "standing by" to resume the project or meeting on short notice. We're not in control of the situation and have a very limited time to grab another cup of coffee or make a phone call back to the office. You have to be deliberate with that time.

Come to think of it, though, a lot can be done with five minutes in a person's life. Consider these examples of what you could do in that brief time:

* Take five minutes to write a thank-you note to someone who did something thoughtful or helpful to you recently.
* Take five minutes to introduce yourself to someone you don't know.
* Take five minutes to encourage someone who has just had some positive thing happen in her life to tell you about it.
* Take five minutes to offer an ear to someone who seems discouraged and may need to talk about something that's troubling him.
* Take five minutes to watch a bird, study a leaf, or enjoy a sunset.
* Take five minutes to read a few lines from the Psalms and pray.
* Take five minutes to plan how you will affirm someone in your family when you get home from work tonight.
* Take five minutes to look deeply into your soul and forgive some real or imagined grievance or release an old grudge.
Time is the very essence of life. So using each day wisely and for some positive outcome is important. But we typically spend our days like our money in small increments here and there until it is all gone.

So what is a five-minute increment out of this day? Too much to ask? More time than you will have to give? Probably not. If you hear "Take five!" today, try one of these exercises. You might even choose to speak them to yourself.

"Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16).

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