For many of us, work requires a morning and afternoon commute. Whether it is 10 minutes down the street or 45 minutes on the interstate, chances are good that you are someone who will need to spend a portion of your day in the car, traveling to your place of employment and back again.
In my case, it is about a 20-35 minute drive on the freeway twice a day. That amount of time doubles if I need to travel during a peak commute window or make my way further up the Peninsula than usual. So, I am typically looking at anywhere between 40-70 minutes of alone time in my car each day. Multiply that by 5 to 6 days and on the week I am at 240-420 minutes traveling from home to work and back. Over a given year (allowing for 3 weeks of vacation), I have (on average) 16170 minutes (270 hours) of drive time I must steward for the glory of God. How might I make the most of my commute time? I will suggest five ways.
1. Learn. With the many opportunities available for continued learning, it is a shame when we don’t leverage these advantages more often for our benefit and growth. Given the massive and ever-growing amount of material available for our listening enjoyment, time in the car should not dissuade us from learning. For example, you could download college-level class lectures from iTunes U on a topic you find interesting. You can purchase audio books at ChristianAudio.com and Audible.com and make your way through literature that would otherwise remain unread. Subscribe to podcasts and populate your smart phone or MP3 player with interesting and useful interviews, radio shows, and sermons. Purchase an audio Bible and fill your mind with God’s Word as you drive.
2. Sing. Drives can also be a time for sustained worship through song. Create a playlist of doctrinally rich, edifying worship songs to play on your next commute. By saturating your mind and heart in glorious, singable truth, you will prepare well for the coming day at work by raising your thoughts and affections up to heaven and to Christ (Colossians 3:1-2).
3. Pray. Of course it makes sense to pray during the times when we are alone in the car. But how many of us really do? And of those of us who do regularly pray while we drive, how often do we find ourselves praying for the same people or the same issues? Could we not make our commutes more profitable if we were a little more intentional about our prayer time in the car?
To help with this I recommend writing down a few specific prayer requests or prayer categories (family, church, work, friends, etc.) on a small 3×5 card that you can put in an easily visible place in the car. While you drive, you can quickly and safely glance at your list and prayer categories as you make your way down the road. Perhaps you have a different card for each day of the week so your prayers can cover a broad terrain of prayer categories rather than always defaulting to familiar requests.
4. Capture. If you have a hands-free device or audio recorder, it is easy to capture your thoughts while you are driving. But I recommend that you only use a hands-free or audio device while driving and never attempt to write your thoughts down. No thought is important enough to endanger the lives of others by irresponsible driving practices.
5. Call. Time in the car can also be a good time to make phone calls. (Hands free phone calls if you are in California.) I don’t recommend that you make it a habit to call people only while on your commute. Over time you might give the impression that you are only interested in talking to certain people when it is convenient for you (whether or not it is convenient for them). A good rule of thumb: if you call people while driving, make sure you also willing to call them at times when you’re not driving, and when you know it is convenient for them. Having offered this admonition, however, car commutes can be a time of profitable conversation.
I’m sure there are many more ways you can make the most of your commute. If you have other ideas, send them my way so that I might learn better how to steward my time for the glory of God.