Chronos v Kairos – Are you doing the right thing right now?
Lent – Week 3 – Clock
When we talk about the ‘T-word’ (TIME) it’s not long before the S-word (STRESS) is mentioned too! Time, or the lack of it, seems for many to be a major source of stress.
Andrea, one of the people we spoke with as part of the series of video interviews conducted for the Faith at Work course, said:
I think I am sorted, then I get an email or phone call, and have to re-plan… quite difficult – who do you prioritise – often it’s yourself that comes last…
Andrea was not alone amongst those we interviewed in expressing this kind of feeling. Do you often feel like this? What are your coping strategies when you’re stressed about the use of time?
Worktalk, a Christian organisation whose aims are to help people “to reduce stress; create encouragement; find a balance; work with integrity; be yourself; get the job done; stay spiritually alert under pressure”, has produced a short video defining stress. Copyright doesn’t allow us to reproduce the clip here. However, the 1minute 11second clip can be viewed by following this link. In another video clip, Geoff suggests that we ask ourselves the following question as a practical tool for working out what should and shouldn’t be done at any one time:
“Am I doing the right thing right now?”
Theologians also argue that there are 2 types of time – chronos and kairos. These ancient Greek words for time have distinctly different meanings:
- Chronos is ‘evenly moving clock time’ whereas kairos is ‘the right or opportune moment’.
- Chronos is quantitative; kairos is qualitative.
- Chronos is measured by clocks so we tend to race against it. Kairos is experienced rather than measured: Isocrates wrote that it is seen by those “who manage well the circumstances which they encounter day by day, and who possess a judgment which is accurate in meeting occasions as they arise and rarely misses the expedient course of action”.
Some say kairos is ‘God’s time’ and it has been described as ‘the lively moments of creative transformation’.
Obviously, at the moment, many of us have little choice over how we use our time. Some are stuck at home, whether for work or health reasons – and, whilst there, either have ‘time on our hands’ or feel that we’re juggling a number of roles. Others are working their socks off planning or caring or volunteering, and feel that they have no time left for themselves. These strange times will end at some stage. In the meantime, does the idea of life being an interplay of chronos and kairos help us as we think about our use of time, both now and in the future?
Sundial image from www.christart.com