First in, Last Out

“Are you making good use of your time?”
Blog for August 6, 2019

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I have a not so deep, not so dark, not so secret, the thing you should know about my wife Kathy and I. We are Disney fanatics. No, not Disney lovers, we are crazy fanatical Disney lovers.
Since our honeymoon in 1974, we have been to Walt Disney World, over 550 times, perhaps closer to 600. Ok, I know what you’re saying to yourself, “No way, no one would go that many times.” Or perhaps you’re saying, “Did you actually keep count?”
There was a time we did keep count, but we stopped doing that in the late 1980s when we got to over 200 visits. Since then, I’ve added all the times I’ve been there with my youth over my 25 years in ministry and checked my calendars, and yes it comes to over 550 almost 600 visits (We also went to Disneyland twice in 1977).
Disney has changed a lot over the years, but for us, it’s still a refuge, a quick getaway (only 55 minutes door to door for us from Merritt Island, FL.). It’s a change of horizon, a place to relax, gain perspective, people watch, and just get away for the day or even a few hours.
Here’s something else we have learned about Disney over the last few years. They have some perks for those who are handicapped. My wife Kathy was diagnosed with Progressive M.S. about 3 years ago, even though she’s been symptomatic for nearly 15 years or so. It’s a long, arduous elimination process, but at least now we know what we’re dealing with.
So, back to the Disney story. First, we found out that you can get special fast passes if you’re disabled, which is a charitable thing that Disney does for handicapped folks. The other thing we already knew about was that when utilizing Disney’s transportation, especially their buses, you have the benefit of, “First in, last out.” This means even if there are like 100 people waiting to board the next bus, Kathy and I as well as any other people who are handicapped, in wheelchairs, or motorized carts get on the bus via a ramp through the back door entrance.
It’s beneficial for us, and the drivers are always considerate strapping Kathy into place in her cart. Now the flip side is, and we don’t mind this at all, that you are the last ones out of the bus. All regular passengers disembark the bus first, then the driver shuts the doors, unhooks Kathy from the belts and straps that are used to hold her wheelchair or electric cart in, then they open the back door, lower the ramp and she rolls out.
“First in, last out.” As a youth leader, Pastor or volunteer, how many times have you experienced that in your ministry? Here’s an example for you: My pastor would get to church on Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m. to review his sermon, open doors and turn on lights. The first service was at 8 a.m., he led an adult Bible study at 9:15 a.m., second service 10:30 a.m. After worship, he almost always got called into a meeting, or someone wanted to speak to him. What happened as he left the church grounds? I’d see him look around, and yes, the last one out.

It’s the same thing for youth leaders. We’re expected to be at church, or come early for an event to set-up (a must if the youth are hosting). We participate in the activities and the clean-up, say our goodbyes and thanks to everyone as they leave, and then we find ourselves locking the doors to the Fellowship Hall, and once again, we are… “Last ones out.”
It’s easy for us to say things like, “Well it’s part of the job,” (I strongly dislike that statement by the way.) or, “That’s why they pay me the big bucks.” Okay, let’s be honest here, we know that’s not true either.

Reflecting back on many years of being the “First in, last out,” person, many times, along with my wife Kathy, here’s what I question. Was I using my time correctly? Was I organized enough, had I put a strong team together for each event so they didn’t need me there every minute? Most importantly, was I (no I was not) prioritizing correctly?
One of my favorite stories to share with my students about priorities was this one:
Lee Iacocca ran both Ford Motor Company and Chrysler, at different points in his career. He is known for the development of the Ford Pinto, and revitalizing the Chrysler Corporation and bringing it back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Over the years his philosophy of life, and what it meant to be a Christian changed too. It’s a list of what’s significant in life, which I also have tried to emulate.
This is Mr. Iacocca priority list:
God comes first. Now youth leaders, pastors, volunteers, before you think or say anything, let me say this, “NO!” God coming first has nothing to do with what you do for a living. It means God comes first. It’s about your personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Don’t mix it up with what your Job is at the church
Family comes second. Yes, family comes before the job. Upon self-reflection, I didn’t always do a very outstanding job with this one, many of us don’t. Our relationship with our wives, kids, and our family should come second only to our relationship with our Savior.
Here it comes, the one you’ve been waiting for … Work comes third. That can be a tough one, can’t it? Why? Because as church workers, there are certain expectations put upon us, and on our time. Yet how we use that time, how we organize that time is really up to us.
What comes fourth, fifth, sixth? Everything else. Friends, school, hobbies, you name it, everything else comes after, God, Family, and Work.

Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.”
There’s a question to ask yourself. Are you making the best use of your time so you can prioritize your life the way God wants it, with Him first? Or is the world dictating what’s first?
In Luke 12:42, Jesus said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?”
Very simply, a wise manager is someone who manages his time well. The household you and I are set over is our calling by God to serve the church. Yet, we need to manage our time wisely to keep our priorities straight.
Here’s the point. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. We have enormous demands on our time and talents. There will be days when you will be, “First in and Last Out.” BUT! It doesn’t have to be all the time, it doesn’t have to be for every event. Use your time wisely, prioritize. Make God first, put your family ahead of your job, be a wise manager of your time.

First in, First out. It’s kind of enjoyable at Disney, not so much at the workplace all the time. Something for you to ponder and work on.
By the way did I mention, where Kathy and I are going on Friday? It’s only 55 minutes away. 601?
Joe Guagliardo (Joe G)
Blessings on your day

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