According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, Americans now spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work. The nationwide average drive-time is about 24.3 minutes, which tops the average two weeks of vacation time (80 hours) taken by many workers during a year.
Rather than bemoaning the time we spend going back and forth from work, we would be better served by thinking of ways we can redeem this time and use it for God's glory. Here are five ways you can redeem your ride. Use the time...
1. To Grow Spiritually
If you drive to work, why not listen to the Bible on audio? I've found listening to the Word to be a spiritually fruitful exercise. I often discover connections and commonalities in the text that go by unnoticed when I'm just reading. Try two or three different translations as you seek to go deeper in "faith that comes by hearing."
I generally don't recommend praying while driving, as I have a difficult time keeping my concentration when I'm trying to keep my eyes on the road. (Fellow motorists are thankful, I'm sure.) But some people are able to use their commute time for this purpose as well.
2. To Grow Intellectually
I usually take the bus into work. It's a 40-minute trip one-way, which gives me a lot of time to read my Kindle. I alternate between Christian classics (many of which are free online) and academic journals (also free!). Reading during my commute time stretches me intellectually.
If you drive to work, choose some audio books. Or consider downloading audio lectures from seminaries and other educational institutions. If you are on the road for an average of an hour a day, you can listen to an hour-long lecture on any given subject. That's like taking a 5-hour-a-week class at any institution.
3. To Grow Creatively
Your ride into work shouldn't be a drudgery. You ought to also read books that stretch you creatively. Read fiction. Read books just because you want to.
If you drive, download some podcasts that are entertaining, not merely informative. Listen to audio dramas. Sing along to great music. Set aside some time for silence as well, so you have the space to consider new ideas and how you might implement them.
4. To Grow Relationally
Use your commute time to connect with good friends. Give someone a call and spend a half hour talking about life and work. Perhaps you can talk with a fellow coworker and process the day's events together.
If you take public transportation, start making connections with some of the other regular riders. You will meet interesting people if you're open enough to hearing their stories.
The ride home can also provide a "buffer" between work and home. Take the time to decompress from the stress of the work day, and try to recharge your relational batteries before going home to your family. You want to give your best at home. Let your commute time aid you in that goal.
5. To Grow in Gratitude
Very few people ever take the time to go through and consider all the good gifts that come from our Father. Why not spend some time being aware of the great joy of simply being alive? Look outside as you drive home. Notice the majesty of creation. Be aware of your surroundings. Bask in the ever-changing seasons. Thank God for the gift of life, of family, of employment. As N.D. Wilson writes:
There is a crushing joy that crackles in every corner of this world. I am tiny and yet I am here. I have been given senses, awareness, existence, and placed on a stage so crowded with the vast, so teeming with the tiny, that I can do nothing but laugh, and sometimes laugh and cry. Living makes dying worth it.
What about you? How much time do you spend commuting to work each day? What do you do to redeem the time?
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