Managing Our Time
by Tamara Eaton
Successful time-management consists of so much more than who can get the most done in the least amount of time--as Christians, we want to be sure we're about our Father's business and fulfilling His plans for our lives. We need reminders of this often--it's easy to get caught up in doing, doing, doing and get ahead of the Lord so much that we end up asking Him to bless what we've already decided to do instead of waiting for His wisdom and timing. I have learned this the hard way by taking on tasks He never intended just because they appeared to be needful! No wonder I fizzled out--I'd been trying to do it all in my own power.
Jesus saw many needs when He was performing His earthly ministry but even He didn't meet them all--instead He did the work that His Father had given Him. That's all anyone can do--seek the Lord for His will and do it, not becoming side-tracked, even by seemingly worthwhile things. These side issues can drain us or keep us so occupied that we aren't able to accomplish what God has called us to do in the first place.
A.W. Tozer once wrote, "A great economizing of time and effort can be effected by learning what we should do and then sticking to it, quietly refusing to be turned aside from our task. Paul said, "But one thing I do," and by paring his activities down to an important minimum he multiplied his efficiency many times over. We must avoid the error of assuming that because we are busy we are therefore getting a lot done. Much of our current activity is in line with the old gentleman who got his peg leg caught in a hole in the sidewalk and walked around it all night trying to get home."
How much stress could be avoided each day by taking time to seek the Lord first and ask Him for wisdom and help in establishing priorities? Daily we see so many needs and have so many demands--it can seem overwhelming at times. We need to use good judgement in how much we take on in this busy season of our lives. God has called us to be wives and mothers first of all, and this takes time. Too many outside activities can rob us of the time we need for our family. We must discern what is God's will and say no to everything that is not, in spite of what others may think, staying focused on what we KNOW God has called us to do.
It's also important to have a proper view of interruptions--some can be avoided and others can't. I use voice mail or an answering machine for phone calls most of the time so I don't get caught on the phone. On the other hand, some interruptions are God ordained so we must be sensitive to His leading! We certainly don't want to hinder the Holy Spirit's work in our lives and His ability to use us as yielded vessels. After all, the very fact that Jesus is Lord of our lives means He is Lord of our time!
Jesus also had interruptions during His ministry on earth and we can again look to His example. G.H. Morling wrote in Quest for Serenity , "Interruptions never distracted Jesus. He accepted them as opportunities of a richer service. Interruptions were the occasion of some of His most gracious deeds and revealing words."
With children at home, it's unrealistic to think that we will have long periods of time without interruptions or necessary breaks. If you are a driven person who hates to stop working until you've finished something, it's easy to grow impatient with the children when they don't measure up to your expectations. Ask the Lord for help in this area and expect Him to help you overcome this tendency!
Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength--if we allow the enemy to rob us of our joy by worrying or fretting over all we have to do each day, we won't have the energy to do all God has called us to do! The Lord will never give us more than we can handle--so if it seems as though we have too much to do, then either we're taking on too much ourselves or we can handle more than we think by trusting in God's promise of "I can do all things in Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)
Learning to distinguish the difference between the important and the urgent can be another challenge. Some of the loudest demands may seem urgent but turn out to be mere distractions and not important--especially in light of Eternity. Someone once said we should all live as though we had Eternity stamped on our eyeballs --a constant reminder of what really matters.
Try making a list of how you spend your days, writing down everything that takes at least thirty minutes. Evaluate your day and prayerfully determine what is important and what can be eliminated. If you find you're spending too much time on things of little importance, and too little time on what really matters, you will have a good starting point for change. Remember though, don't try to change in your own power--turn to the Lord and ask His help! "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)
We must also allow plenty of time for refreshment and recharging. If we aren't filling ourselves up with God's Word and praying and getting enough rest, how can we expect our ministry to others to be effective? Jesus knew the value of coming apart to rest for a time; in spite of the demands and needs of the crowds, He took time to recharge.
"And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." -- Mark 6:31
We're all familiar with the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10--Martha felt overwhelmed with all the work and wanted Jesus to tell her sister Mary to help her, but Mary was sitting at His feet, receiving His Word.
"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)
Ken Gire gave a wonderful commentary on this passage in his book Windows of the Soul :
"The words spoken to Martha are words spoken also to the Martha in me. But what were those words correcting? It was her worry, not her work. It was her being upset, not her being under pressure. The issue wasn't her preparations; it was her distractions. It wasn't the many things; it was that the many things didn't revolve around the one thing that was needed.
There was no quiet center that Martha was working from, no solitude of heart, no still axis around which her activities revolved....
I don't want to live in the kitchen of religious activity, distracted with all my preparations. I don't want to live slumped over some steamed-up stove, worried and upset about so many things. I want to live at the Savior's feet, gazing into His eyes, listening to His words, and seeing as many windows as He'll show me....when we're at His feet and our heart is still, we can hear Him even when He whispers."
If we want our service and ministry to be acceptable and pleasing to the Lord, we must get our priorities right. We have to receive Jesus' ministry to us before we can be effective in our work and ministry toward others. When we neglect to sit at His feet first, taking in His Word, we end up feeling overworked and unappreciated. When we keep our priorities in line with His priorities, He will enable us to do what needs to be done with joy and a sense of fulfillment, whether it is always recognized by others or not.
Offer up each day unto the Lord and ask Him to guide you by His Holy Spirit! Ask Him to help you use your time efficiently and to keep you from being so rushed that you neglect to hear His Voice. Take time to appreciate and treasure the people He brings across your path each day--especially your family. The Lord has given us a gift of 24 hours, that's 86,400 seconds today. How many of those seconds have been spent praising the Lord, encouraging our children and family, speaking LIFE to others instead of death, BLESSINGS instead of curses and grumbling? Let's make a positive difference in someone's life today! Each day is a new beginning, a fresh start. God wants to do beautiful things in and through us as we yield to Him!
A Dozen Time Management Tips:
DON'T . . .
- rush ahead of the Lord--His timing and wisdom are crucial
- try to meet all the needs, it's impossible!
- get side-tracked, even by "worthwhile" things
- allow too many outside activities to rob you of family time
- let the enemy rob you of your joy--it's your strength
- confuse the urgent with the important
DO . . .
- Pray for the Lord's guidance and help each day
- Look to Jesus as your example. Study His Word, His life as revealed in the Gospels. Ask yourself, "What would Jesus do in this situation?"
- Plan for interruptions and needed breaks
- Put on the garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3) and do your work as unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:23-24)
- Take time to enjoy your family.
- Stay focused on what God has called you to do and seek to view everything in light of Eternity.
Encouragement from Scriptures:
"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, "You are my God. My times are in Your hand..." --Psalm 31:14-15
"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ." --Colossians 3:23-24
"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." --Ephesians 5:15-17
"For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers..." --1 Peter 3:10-12
"Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore." --Psalm 86:11-12
[For more encouragement, see related articles on "Priorities" , "Feeling Frazzled" , "In His Presence" and "Homeschool Management Tips" ]
[Note--If you don't know the Lord in a personal, saving way--find out how you can be set free from all condemnation and receive Eternal life, as well as His daily help and guidance! (Knowing God)
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
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