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« Spending Time with God | Main | It’s All a Reality Show »

Your Time Management Relationship: Jesus as Present

(This is the next chapter in the book Hand-in-Hand: Deepening Your Relationship with Jesus Christ).

Time management may seem like a strange chapter in a book on a believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ.  Actually, when you think about it, it strikes at the heart of the subject.  Our lives are ruled by time.  We have watches, clocks, timers, alarms, hourglasses, and metronomes.  We intall digital timing components on our devices like computers, appliances, automobiles, and all kinds of equipment.  Our vocabulary is filled with words that reflect our sensitivity to time, like fast, slow, early, late, prompt, tardy,  second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade, millennium, light-year, sprint, pace … and more.  We measure almost everything in life in terms of time.  The critical factor of time pervades our lives. 

At the same time, few concepts are harder to understand than time, especially considering the timelessness of God who interacts with creatures bound by the constraints of time.  But, since we cannot escape it, and since our eternal destination depends largely on what we do with our time, it is vital that we look closely at the element of time.  This is a difficult subject to read about, and more so to write about, because most of bear our share of guilt as time wasters.  Swallow hard and press on. 

Your Time is Your Life 

These are some common statements about time:

·        When I get time…

·        I never have enough time…

·        I ran out of time…

·        I didn’t do it in time…

·        Time flies when you’re having fun.

·        There’s no time like the present.

·        This will save us time.

·        Time waits for no man.

The average lifetime lasts approximately seventy-five years.  That means you have 26,700 days, 640,800 hours, and 38,448, 000 seconds to live. These figures then translate into the value of your time. The longer it takes to perform a task or to do a job, the more expensive it becomes.  Why?  Because, ultimately, we measure every task by two things: expertise and the time the job requires.  While the skill level varies, the time it takes stays relatively constant.  Every time we do something, that part of our life is gone forever.  It cannot be retrieved.   A plethora of implications derive from this thought, and we will explore a few of them in the following paragraphs, but as we do, make sure you consider this: to give God your life is to give Him your time!  Unless He has claim on your hours, days, weeks, months and years, He does not have your life.

Time management occupies the minds of many pundits as seen in the following quotations.  “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” -Annie Dillard.  “Dost thou love life? Do not squander time, for that the stuff life is made of.” -Benjamin Franklin. “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” -Brian Tracy.  “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.” -Will Rogers.

The quality of our lives impact our allotment of time.  Habits, addictions, compulsions and worries all steal time from us.  Haste, impatience, brashness and stubbornness all grant false gifts of time to us.  Procrastination, fear, indecision and lack of planning all waste time for us.  Bitterness, hatred, anger, envy and jealousy all turn time against us.  Keep a tight rein on your attitude and emotions.  They can strip objectivity from you and take over your life.

You Have Enough Time for the Big Things

A thoughtful teacher once demonstrated the value of important things in life by placing a large jar on a table.  He then put several large rocks into the jar, followed by gravel, sand and water.  Each time he put something into the jar, he asked the class if it was full.  The students said yes each time.  Yet, there was always room for the next ingredient.  At the end, he asked if they could guess what the demonstration meant.  They said, “You can always pack more into your life than you think you can.”  The teacher agreed, but he said the illustration highlighted an even greater truth.   “Just like the space in the jar, your time is finite.  Put the big items in first or they’ll never fit!”

So, why do we tend to do little things first, and leave the bigger things until later?  Because small things in life are easier to manage than bigger things.   Often, the big things never get done.  At the end of a work week, or a season, a semester—or a life, many people whine that they just didn’t have enough time to do the important things.  The truth is, however, that they put the big things off because they were more challenging,   more costly, or took too much time.  In fact, if you do the harder things first, the easier things will get done too.  If they don’t, it probably won’t matter in the end.   I said in my heart, “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, For there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” Ecclesiastes 3:17.  If hours were rubies and days were diamonds, how much more careful would we be in deciding how to spend them?

Sacrificing the Important for the Urgent

Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” The thirty-fourth POTUS organized his workload and priorities by a process known as the “Eisenhower Principle.” His leadership was exemplary among modern presidents, and his take on time management was cutting edge in the 1950’s.

It’s true.  Urgency too often trumps importance.  The more we feel pressure to do something immediately, the less we consider its relative importance. This unfortunate consequence bleeds out  in many ways.  Personal health care probably serves as the most flagrant example.  Long-term structured diet and/or exercise programs get sabotaged by an immediate craving for something sweet, fattening or otherwise bad for our bodies.  Legal matters, like making a will or upgrading an insurance policy get preempted by the urgent.  For students, the term paper gets overridden by a spontaneous social event, a video game or mental fatigue.  The phone ringer, a text message, or a friend dropping by torpedo many important projects.  Moreover, urgent things seem exciting and important things seem boring, making interruptions irresistible.  One droll message on a placard says, “The failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part!”

But, the spiritual aspects of life are the most likely to get shoved to the back of the priority line, and too many of us have no accountability partner to keep us on the straight and narrow.  Nobody breathes down our necks when we fail to pray or when we skip our Bible-reading.  This is a critical factor in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  A shallow relationship permits constant interruptions by the urgent; a deep relationship makes time for the important.  Choosing to do the important things reflects the greater presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.  Speaking of the Spirit and the flesh, Jesus said, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”      John 8:29.

Expediency: Managing Your Time

The preceding commentary on our use of time is not always clearly defined.  Often, we don’t know how much time a task will take.  Complications arise that turn a simple chore into a major event.  Sometimes we launch into a project before we realize how involved it is.  That’s why we must impose time-management techniques on the way we live our lives.  While we can’t control everything, here are some directives that must be utilized to manage your time. 

·        Preparation.  Once in awhile, you need to get away by yourself and think about your life.  This is not vacation time, recreation time or relaxation time.  Use this block of time to weigh out the important things in your entire life.  My predecessor, who was raised on a farm, used to tell me “Time out to sharpen your sickle is never wasted!” 

·        Priorities.  Always put relationships first.  Money and personal pleasure rank last in your priority list.  Obviously, we have to make a living, but wealth accompanied by the guilt of destroying your relationships is not worth it.

·        Positioning.  Understand your time limitations.  Look at all your tasks in terms of the time they will consume, and position them accordingly.  Unimportant tasks must not command big allotments of your valuable time.  Assessment of time carved out in your day or week is vital to your quality of life.

·        Planning.  Decide what you need to do and set a definite time to get it done.  Indefinite planning creates an illusion that you have handled something when, in reality, you have not.  Plan with a clock and a calendar.

·        Profitability.  Keep a sharp eye out for the success—or the lack thereof—of your efforts.  Cutting losses applies to your time as well as your investments.  As soon as your endeavor no longer yields a profit, abandon it and do something that will work. 

Here are some additional tips on managing your time:

·        Establish habits.  Develop a habit of putting your everyday items (keys, billfold, checkbook, etc.) in the same place when you turn in for the night.  Okay, even your shoes!

·        Do not trust your memory.  Write down important information, or even potentially important information.  Do it immediately, because you WILL forget!  Distractions will cause your brain to derail, and you will do one of two things.  Either you will never get your thought back, or you will waste valuable time trying to remember it.

·        Handle papers once.  Dispose of papers as soon as you are through with them.  Lay them out for urgent action, file them until you need them, or throw them away.

·        Multi-task.  While you are waiting for your computer to go through a series of maddening updates, do something other than stare at the screen!  The computer won’t mind.  File papers, read the Bible, make a phone call—whatever.  To piggyback on a phrase, time is a terrible thing to waste.

·        Make lists.  Don’t rush out to the store for the item you need right now until you have written down everything else you need to buy at the store.  Even better, organize your list according to the aisles of the supermarket or box store.

·        Make every trip count.  Not only will you save time by accomplishing several things on the same trip, you will save gas, miles on the odometer, and the agony of frustration.

·        Maximize your efforts.  Make sure you have your hands full.  How many times have you gotten a block or two away only to remember that your phone or checkbook is still lying on the kitchen counter?  Before you walk out the door, remember to remember.

Redeeming the Time

This phrase, found in two Pauline epistles, seems ironic given our understanding that time cannot be redeemed.  Yet, Paul writes about it emphatically.  See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16 ; and, Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Colossians 4:5.  How is this possible?

While you cannot go back and re-live a moment, you can begin again.  The Greek word for redeeming is exagorazō, which means to “buy up” or to “rescue from loss.”  (Strongs).  Mistakes can be rectified, wrong thinking can be corrected, damages can be repaired and losses can be paid back by rescuing the bad results back from permanance.  Indeed, this is what the born-again experience is all about.  We may not be able to enter the second time into our mother’s womb and be born, but we can achieve the same outcome through salvation in Christ.  God, Master of Everything, from His position of eternal essence, redeems the time for us.  He counts us as though we never existed before we connected with Him in faith. 

Redeeming the time is also about course correction, a term that became familiar to the world with space exploration.  “Spacecrafts travel through very long distances.  Spacecraft have inertia, which means that they will keep going in the path they are in unless something changes that. If that path is off by even a tiny bit, they will keep going in that path, getting more and more off course, until they are far from their intended pathway.  If a spacecraft is allowed to go far from its intended course, often the mistake cannot be corrected. Spacecraft often do not have enough fuel to make large course corrections, and by the time the error is realized the object in space they were supposed to fly to may have moved a long distance from where it was supposed to be when the ship met it.”  ( 

When believers make wrong choices and stubbornly cling to them, they lose valuable time both in their personal walk with God and in fulfilling their mission.  Every bad choice represents a potential loss of time.  When we repent, we correct our trajectory and preserve the time that would have been lost.

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