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Is the TSA wasting its time? Are you?

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent uses a special light to check the authenticity of a traveller's driver's license at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington November 24, 2010 (Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed)

On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security reassigned Melvin Carraway, who had been the acting administrator for the Transportation Security Administration. The T.S.A. repeatedly failed security tests conducted across the country when undercover teams were able to get banned items through screening checks in 67 out of 70 attempts. One such failure was when an undercover agent set off an alarm but the T.S.A. screener who then checked him failed to find the fake explosive device taped to the agent’s back.

Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, said he was taking the 95% failure rate “very seriously” and requested that the T.S.A retrain its airport security officers, retest screening equipment, and increase the use of similar covert testing in the future. While a Homeland Security spokesperson assures that steps are already being taken to address the issues raised by the agency’s failure, details about what those steps involved were not forthcoming.

Many, both in the government and the public sector, are understandably alarmed by the T.S.A.’s relative futility in this matter. Representative Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, spoke for many when he recently said, “Over the past six years, we have seen TSA consume an enormous amount of government resources, but I’m not convinced we have much to show for it…After spending over $540 million on baggage screening equipment and millions more on training, the failure rate today is higher than it was in 2007.” He concluded, that “Something is not working…Government needs to recognize that the most effective solution is not always the most expensive one.”

While the cynic might hear Rep. Chaffetz’s statement and wonder what took him so long to come to that conclusion, spending money to solve a problem is a common tactic for most people. It can give us the illusion of progress without requiring the personal investment of our time. Unfortunately, that is the approach that many Christians take to serving the kingdom as well.

There is little doubt that tithing financially honors God and such funds are a necessary part of accomplishing his kingdom work. However, God wants your time as well and the former is no substitute for the latter. God has a purpose for your life that requires more of you than what can be measured monetarily.

In Ephesians 5, Paul writes to the believers in Ephesus to help them better understand how to live in a way that honors God. After describing all of the things that would hinder such a life, he goes on to say “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15-17). The word that Paul uses there to describe the days, poneros, is commonly translated as “evil” but can also mean “worthless” or “base.” While evil was definitely part of the connotation that Paul had in mind for the days, the larger picture he was trying to convey to the Ephesians was that we waste our time not only when it is used on evil things but essentially when it is used on anything that doesn’t bring us closer to God’s will.

However, the other side of that, and the reason that it is so important to understand that using our time wisely means far more than simply avoiding wicked things, is that even good, God-honoring activities can be less than the best use of our time. As Christians, it is easy to become so busy working for God that we forget to work with God. We become so focused on doing good things that we forget to check with God to make sure we are acting according to his particular will for each of our lives.

Learning to rely on God’s guidance not only for the big decisions but the day to day, seemingly minor ones can be one of the most difficult lessons to learn as believers. However, there are few things that can have a greater impact on both your personal walk with God and your effectiveness in his kingdom than making sure that every day is devoted to him.

Have you asked for his guidance yet today?