“Time is relative; it’s only worth depends upon what we do as it is passing.”
— Albert Einstein
Two Princeton Psychologists ran a study based on the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. They first started by interviewing a group of seminary students to find out why they had decided to go into ministry. Not surprisingly, most of the students said they “wanted to help people.” Then they asked each student to prepare a sermon; half prepared a sermon on the Good Samaritan and the other half on various topics. Once the assignments were completed, the students were told they would present the sermons in a building on campus. But, as the story goes, there was a predetermined set up that was supposed to take the students by surprise. An actor was hired to portray some who was just mugged, much like the in the biblical story. This actor was stationed in an alley that each student would pass on their way to the presentation building. To make it more interesting, one more variable was added to the situation: Before being sent to give their presentations, some of the students were told to hurry to the building because they were late; while others were told to take their time because they were early. So, the question arises: Who will stop to help when confronted with a real-life scenario of a person who had been “mugged” in the alley? Those who got into ministry to help people? Those who prepared a sermon on the Good Samaritan? The researchers discovered something very interesting. Only 10% of those who were “late”, and 63% of those who were “early” stopped to help. The researchers found no correlation to the stated life goals of helping people, or what sermon was studied in those that stopped to help. They concluded the biggest factor in who stopped was the time constraint. The words, “you’re late” and “hurry” turned ordinarily compassionate people into those who were indifferent to suffering.
How many times do we overlook our beliefs because of time constraints? How many times are we short with people because we happen to be in a hurry at that time? How many times do we focus on just getting the job done rather than doing what we know is right because of a deadline? How often have we praised outcomes rather than effort? In education, how often have we focused on covering all the standards instead of providing authentic learning opportunities for our students? The answer is probably too often, way too often.
Hurry can destroy everything from empathy to innovation. How many times in education do we (let the hurry of covering material, or preparing students for a standardized test) forget to slow down and make sure our students are learning and growing in a positive environment and in a way that will benefit them for the rest of their lives? No student has ever come back to us and said, “Thanks for helping me pass that standardized tests; it changed my life.” I worry that sometimes we get too focused on the “knowing” rather than the “learning.” Does it matter that a student knows the material on Tuesday or does it matter that they ultimately learn the material? Is knowledge power, or is knowing how to use, make sense of, and evaluate information what is really important? Does it matter if students just complete the work as assigned, or is understanding the importance of the work and how it impacts their lives what is really important? Are we focusing on the outcomes or the process? Which is more important? We cannot let hurry get in the way of truly serving our students and supporting them in all the ways they need to be successful. When we look at what we really do, much of it goes far beyond academics.
It is impossible to remove time constraints from our lives; and we cannot add time to each day. The amount of time we have with the teachers and the students we serve, is finite. We all want to be successful, but are we focusing the needed time each day on what is necessary to achieve this success. Are our beliefs aligned with our time in such a way that will lead us to success? Every second of our life can present an opportunity (or an obstacle) to make a decision to live for our beliefs or not.
As a leader with L.E.S.S., to stay focused on our goals and serve those we lead, we need to make sure we stay true to our beliefs during the busiest of times. If our desire is to be a great student, teacher, or leader, we must make sure that these goals remain our focus even when we are crunched for time. If we want to Love, Equip, and Serve those we lead, we must make sure that time does not deter us from those values.
It’s only a matter of time! Keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!