Time management: ‘It’s about time isn’t it?’
Lover of All, I hold me fast by Thee,
Ruler of time, King of Eternity
There is no great with Thee, there is no small,
For Thou art all, and fillest all in all.
The newborn world swings forth in Thy command,
The falling dewdrop falls into Thy hand.
God of the firmament’s mysterious powers
I see Thee thread the minutes of my hours.
– Amy Carmichael
I had a friend named “Larry.” Larry was a TV documentary producer and he moonlighted as a motivational speaker. Anyone that really knew Larry would never, ever wish to be motivated by him. However, he was miraculously in great demand.
Larry ran past me one day and I caught up with him, and said, “What’s your hurry?”
“I don’t have time now, John.”
“Are you late for something?”
“Yes, (getting into the car) a speaking engagement.
“I’m speaking on ‘Time Management!’” (car speeds off).
I know you think that’s too good of a conversation to be true, I assure you that it is. But Larry does not suffer alone with the burden of time management. We all have issues with this elusive problem. In fact, pastors, if you want to reach your community – I would suggest that you bring in a Christian consultant to do a workshop on time management. You would have a church-full.
In her poem above, the Irish missionary, Amy Carmichael (who died on the field in India in 1951), speaks of two concepts of time. The Greek word, chronos refers to the “minutes of our hours” – these are the schedules and the to-do lists. Chronos is the man-arranged time in life. But she refers to another concept of time, kairos (again Greek) which is “time significant” we can probably say – “God’s perfect time.” This refers to almost the rest of the poem.
The key in our personal time management is to synchronize our chronos to the kairos of God. In the great yet small book titled, Tyranny of the Urgent, author Charles Hummel speaks about when our spiritual clocks are out of sync. “Christians who are too busy to stop, take spiritual inventory and receive their assignments from God become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent.”
How many times in Scripture does Jesus show good time stewardship in telling others, “No” and “My time has not come.” In Psalm 31:15, David says it beautifully in his prayer for protection when he proclaims, “My times are in Thy hand.” Oh, if only that could be our prayer. Back to the book, Tyranny of the Urgent, Hummel gives us four steps of making our time ‘more kairotic and less chaotic.’
Decide what is important
God being our first priority, we need to spend our days with Him. So many times, I tend to think that I should ‘carve out that quiet time’ when actually it should all be ‘quiet time.’ Instead of being a praying people, let us be a people of prayer and continual worship of the true God. Then we can more clearly discover importance in our schedule. When God tells you what is important, write it down.
Discover how your time is being spent
Years ago, in reading the book, Your Money, or Your Life. Kimberly and I spend a month with little notebooks and we wrote down every penny we spent. At the end of the month, we looked at the figures. That really honestly changed my life in spending. One could do the same with your time. Try a typical week, chart it out – where and on what do you spend your time? Then compare the time spent to your things that you thought were important – are they the same?
Budget the hours
Need more time with the Lord? Set the alarm back 15-20 minutes. Have something very important – budget more time to it, and less on the unimportant. This may take some time to process into your life.
The Parkinson Principle is this: Work expands to fill all available time. Watch it!
I have a simple strategy that I share with many, and I didn’t make it up myself.
Plan a day, once a day – usually end of the previous day in my office
Plan a week, once a week – Sunday night after all of the hoopla, I sit and plan the next week
Plan a month, once a month – I spend a half-day, once a month – looking at the next month
Plan a year, once a year – I take a day off once a year and plan the following year, using what I’ve prayed that God feels is important.
As you worship the Lord, bringing Him offerings of praise – bring to Him the offerings of your time as well. He will bless your efforts. (John Francis is the worship specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention and produces MoWorship, a monthly worship podcast available at www.mobaptist.org/worship.)