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The ending song of the Broadway hit musical, Rent, begins with these words: “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear, five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, how do you measure a year?”

What do you do with an entire year’s worth of minutes given us each year?  Doing some quick math, I spent, give or take, 62,400 minutes watching television; 174,720 minutes sleeping; 18,720 minutes doing repetitive household chores; 15,600 minutes sitting in church meetings; 65,520 minutes doing family-related activities; and 93,600 minutes doing work-related tasks for a total of about 430,560 minutes.  What did I do with the remaining 95,040 minutes or, roughly 66 days last year that are unaccounted for?  I have absolutely no idea!  Would I have spent my time differently if I’d known I only had a year left to live?  Absolutely!

Looking back on last year, I’ve become a little bolder about sharing the gospel with people in my life.  I gave copies of the Book of Mormon to those who regularly assist me at Kinko’s, the bank, the dry cleaners, the hardware store and McDonald’s.  I sent church-related DVDs to several of my clients this year instead of the usual restaurant gift certificates.  I invited nearly 70 people to the Festival of Lights at the Visitor’s Center and even accompanied a few of them.

Given my sudden spike in productivity (at least compared to previous years), you’d think I’d feel a little better about things.  I don’t.

Linking the sheer amount of time I wasted last year to the hundreds of opportunities that I passed by to do something spiritually meaningful with or for the people I know, how can I better use the time I have available in this new year?  Here are a few ideas gleaned from past missionaries I’ve worked with as a ward mission leader:

  • Make a prayer list (a listed of names of those who are not members and pray about each one)
  • Make a list of scriptures to incorporate in everyday conversations
  • Pray with the missionaries to find areas to tract where people are prepared
  • Pray for specific people, for specific things
  • Pray every day for a month for an experience to share the gospel
  • Pray for a date to have someone meet the missionaries
  • Carry a prayer card with you and add names often
  • Prepare a spiritual thought or scripture and share it with a nonmember
  • Memorize a scripture per week to share on demand
  • Pray daily to give away a copy of the Book of Mormon
  • Read the Book of Mormon every day, while looking for gospel sharing experiences
  • Learn the basic principles the missionaries teach from Preach My Gospel
  • Say a prayer with a nonmember (meal time)
  • Study and memorize the Articles of Faith, share one per week with nonmembers
  • Keep a spiritual thought in an envelope everywhere you go
  • Do a Book of Mormon marking activity
  • “A walk through the Book of Mormon”—personalize it so people won’t think it’s just another good book
  • Learn the basic tenants of the Gospel: There is a God, We are mortal and fallen (we need help), no unclean thing can dwell with Him, we die, we will be resurrected, there will be a judgment, Jesus is our only hope, and living prophets point the way.

Let me share a story with you.  One LDS family had been integrally involved with the lives of their next door neighbors for years but had never really discussed the gospel with them.  Prompted by the Spirit one day, the LDS wife invited the neighbor family to attend their child’s baptism.  Like most baptisms, it was an incredibly spiritual event, and the woman could tell that the neighbor family had felt something unique and special.  That night she felt strongly prompted to be bolder than she had previously been.  She called the neighbor and said, “Can I come over right now?  I have something important to talk about.”  Hanging up the phone, the nonmember neighbor turned to her husband and said, “Honey, I think they’re finally ready to share the Mormon thing with us!”  Two weeks later, the family was baptized.

When Elder Smith shared this story with me, it brought goosebumps and tears.  As he sang in the song that accompanied his sacrament meeting talk recently, “Someone is waiting…not too far from here.”

May they not have to wait any longer because of something you and I will do this week, this month or this year!

Kevin Harding