Girlfriends in God - Oct. 29, 2009

October 29, 2009 
Time - Friend or Foe 
Part 2 
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Ephesians 5:15-16 "See then that you walk circumspectly not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time" (NIV).

Friend To Friend 
Time management is a dreaded and often ignored spiritual discipline. We choose where to invest our time, carefully planning our daily agenda but fail to schedule the most important activity of all, spending time with God. Discipline carves out time to sit at His feet.  I am, by no means, an expert in the area of discipline, but I do want to share some simple ideas that work for me.


Just as we budget our money, we must budget your time.  Every day, we are presented with twenty-four hours, and every day we must choose to either spend those hours or to invest them.  Every Sunday afternoon, I do two things - write a weekly column and plan the week ahead.  I assign tasks to each day and prioritize those tasks in order of importance.  That's the easy part.  The hard part is sticking to the plan, but getting a head start offers a greater chance for success.  Schedule one day a week to plan.  The preparation will pay off.


Once a month, have a family "spring cleaning". Go out to dinner, and together, eliminate anything that is hurting your family.  Make a purposeful plan for adding only those activities that will strengthen each member of your family.


Learn to leave the "lesser" things undone.  This lesson is especially hard for me because I actually believe I can do it all!  The key to godly discipline and right priorities is learning what my "all" is, and doing all of that!  My trusty "Superwoman" cape is never far away.  Admittedly, it is a constant battle for me to ignore the presence of that cape, choosing to embrace and employ God's priorities - not mine.  But it is definitely a battle worth fighting.  Families, marriage, and souls are on the line.  A right perspective is the direct result of godly discipline.  In order to have right priorities, we must have right perspectives.  Godly discipline brings a holy scrutiny to priorities and perspectives.  Does it really matter?  Is it eternal?  Will it impact lives for God? 


When it comes to family, include every family member in the work and include every family member in the play. The concept of "team" is essential to every successful family. A chore is not just a random assignment. It says, "You are an important part of this team and this family. We need you." 


Give up on perfection. It is meant for heaven...not earth. I love the Amish saying, "The further we get from simple things, the further we get from God."  Jesus was born in sparse simplicity, a manger instead of a mansion. His teachings were simple enough for a child to understand.  A simple but stunning truth is His message. We often overlook profound simplicity in search of hollow complexity, foolishly thinking that bigger is always better.  When it comes to investing time, we need to employ simple godly discipline.


When our children were small, I did not travel and speak as often as I did when they were older. I really tried to make my greatest mission field my home, my marriage and my children - easy words to write, but hard words to live.  It does not matter how much I do or how successful I am in ministry.  If home and family are left with only the scraps of my time, energy, and emotions, I am walking in sin and disobedience. 

One of the greatest challenges in my life is to achieve and maintain a disciplined balance.  I am not certain why balance is so hard to achieve, but one reason stands out from the rest - self.  If "self" were a coin, one side of that coin would be pride.  Earning the favor of God, proving my worth and longing for success feed that pride. The opposite side of the coin is insecurity.  Believing the lies of the enemy, measuring my worth by what I do instead of whose I am, longing for man's applause and earth's acclaim can be counted on to fuel the sadistic fires of insecurity. 

Both pride and insecurity are sin.  Both are a preoccupation with self.  Godly discipline draws attention to God and away from self, to His work and away from human effort, leaving the glory where it belongs - at His feet alone.

The most effective life is a disciplined life.  Discipline builds upon discipline, each success encouraging another. Make the commitment to cultivate the disciplines of godliness, then pick a corner of your life and begin.  Discipline does not come naturally or easily.  We will surely fail but we can always begin again.  Join me today in a new commitment to choosing to seek, apply and relish godly discipline. 

"A man may be consecrated, dedicated and devoted but of little value if undisciplined." 
(Hudson Taylor)

Let's Pray 
Father, please forgive me for the lack of godly discipline in my life.  Make me stronger, Lord.  Empower me to live a life that pleases You.  I surrender my agenda, my schedule to You and ask You to arrange it according to Your plan.  Please help me to hear Your voice above all others and to become a godly woman of discipline. 

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn  

  • Identify the area of your life where discipline is most needed.  
  • How has a lack of discipline in this area impacted your life?   
  • Surrender this undisciplined part of your life to God right now.  
  • Read and memorize 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (NIV).  How can this verse help you make and keep a new commitment to godly discipline in your life?

More From The Girlfriends 
I honestly did not want to write this devotion and tried to talk the Father out of my doing so.  You see, while I hate the very word "discipline", most people would describe me as a disciplined woman.  If they only knew!  Discipline is a constant battle for me - in every area of life - but especially when it comes to time management. Just when I think I have it mastered, everything falls apart.  I want to be a champion for God but I have to admit that I am often a miserable failure when it comes to discipline. Sound familiar?  My only hope - and your only hope - is God and His power at work in us.  Need help?  Me, too!

With the holidays just around the corner, my thoughts immediately turn to family, friends and time. I really want this holiday season to be meaningful and as stress-free as possible! So I am getting ready now!

Mary has two NEW E-Book Bible Studies available!  I Need a Friend and Time: Friend or Foe? (from which today's devotion was taken). These studies are perfect for personal or small group study.  Each study is presented in an attractive PDF format, is easy to download and copy on your home computer and includes a helpful study guide as well.

Need gift ideas?  This year, why not give gifts that are life-changing?  Enroll a friend or family member in Mary's weekly online bible study, Light for the Journey.  The current topic is 7 Habits of a Powerful Life. 

Browse through Mary's online store for that perfect gift of encouragement - a book, CD, MP3 download, E-Bible Study and special gift items.

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Originally published Thursday, 29 October 2009.