January 19, 2016
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16, ESV).
Friend to Friend
Time management is a dreaded and often ignored spiritual discipline for many of us. We have forgotten that our minutes, hours, and days are precious commodities – gifts from God that can be unwrapped only once. Time is wasted unless it is invested in goals and priorities that are rooted in God’s plan.
A busy life is not necessarily a productive life. Oh, I can hear it now. “I am very busy, but I am busy doing good things.” Those words were the cry of my heart just before I crashed and burned and landed in a pit of clinical depression. The problem with my list of “good things” was that it was just that – my list – which was the wrong list for my life. The result was exhaustion, burnout, and disobedience.
One of the most important lessons of my “pit experience” was that I had a skewed perspective of time. I poured years into making my plan successful only to discover the truth that God resources and empowers His plan alone.
Outlook determines outcome.
It was painfully obvious that I needed an outlook adjustment. I needed to understand that time is a resource on loan to me from God. Every plan, priority, and goal should be held against the backdrop of eternity.
Learning how to trust God with our time is a challenge for us all. I am certainly not an expert in this area, but I do want to share some simple ideas that have worked for me.
Tithe your time. Just as we tithe our money, we should tithe our time. God blesses and multiplies the time we spend in Bible study, prayer and service.
Get organized. In 1 Corinthians 14:40 we are challenged to “do all in a fitting and orderly way.” Being organized is a spiritual discipline, freeing us from the tyranny of the urgent while making room for things that matter.
Keep a calendar. A calendar keeps me from wasting time and “bunching up” activities. My weeks and months are more evenly scheduled, and I am forced to prioritize, doing the important things first.
Establish a planning day. Every Sunday afternoon, I plan the week ahead; recording the main tasks I need to complete and scheduling the appointments I need to make. Pray over your week, asking the Holy Spirit to make clear things ordained for each day.
Simplify and eliminate. Experts advise us to approach spring-cleaning by dealing with one closet at a time. The same principle works with time management. Break jobs up into manageable steps so that the large tasks seem doable.
Tackle dreaded tasks first. I have discovered that tackling the job I dread the most energizes me for the remaining tasks. I have also learned to use my best time, the time of the day when my energy is highest, for the most important and the most difficult tasks.
Stop activity when it becomes unproductive. Sometimes, a 10-minute break will boost energy, refocus attention, and get creative juices flowing.
Begin a task, even if you won’t have time to complete it. I hate doing laundry. As a result, I often do the laundry in phases. For example, I start the wash and then answer several emails. I then toss the wet clothing into the dryer and work on a writing assignment. You get the idea.
Delegate. When we delegate work to our children, we teach them godly discipline as well as basic life skills. The church is filled with people waiting to be pushed out of their comfort zones in service. Look for potential leaders and delegate.
Leave margins in your schedule. I tend to fill every minute of the day. So when the “unexpected” comes along, I am overwhelmed and unprepared. Building margins of time into our schedules is a step of faith, trusting God to fill them in any way He chooses.
Yield to the seasons of life. When our children were small, I didn’t travel and speak as much as I do now. Do not sacrifice your family on the altar of a career or even a ministry. Our greatest mission field is our home and our family. It doesn’t matter how much we do or how successful we are if home and family get the leftovers of our time and energy.
If we don’t set priorities – others will. Time thieves will steal our time as we allow them to impose their plans and standards on us. Different women have different priorities and different seasons of life, but one priority remains steadfast. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33). Once that priority is firmly established, the rest of life will fall in place.
Father, I want to follow Your plan for my life. Please lead me and guide me in Your ways. Give me Your wisdom and truth and show me the purpose for which I was created. I will seek You first in my life. I will trust You with my whole heart and do whatever You ask me to do.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Father, I want to honor You by the way I invest every minute of my life. Please help me to see time as a gift on loan to me by You. Right now I choose Your plan. I submit every priority and every goal to You, Lord. Use me to make a difference in the lives of people around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
More from the Girlfriends
Need help with time management? Check out Mary’s E-Bible Study, Time: Friend or Foe, a three-week-study that will teach you how to better control your time, learn where and how to invest time so that it counts the most, and identify and eliminate time thieves such as procrastination, worry, and perfectionism.
Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 1311
Huntersville, NC 28070
Originally published Tuesday, 19 January 2016.