We Have All Been There
A deadline is looming. You only have a few hours left until you need to submit the final version of a project. Your heart beats fast, your knees bounce . . . but you are still on Facebook, doing last minute research, or replying to an urgent email as you rush toward that deadline. You, my friend, need better time management skills.
This struggle is nothing new for any of us in ministry or secular work. It’s common among believers and non-believers. Those we counsel are struggling with time management. But the solutions offered and the myriad of recommended blogs that we follow, as well as the tools given to help us better manage our time, often do not reflect a biblical or gospel-centered solution. And as believers, it is essential that we think of this topic (like all topics) from a biblical perspective.
In this blog I’d like to suggest a few things to help us deal with this common struggle. These are not necessarily new ideas, but things I’ve gleaned from others on this topic. And though there is much more that could be said about this subject, I hope this will challenge all of us to evaluate how we manage our day-to-day lives.
A Biblical View of Time
As we think about the time that we have each day, it is important to remember the mind-boggling reality that God was around before time ever existed. Isaiah 57:15 reminds us that God “inhabits eternity.” To try to help us get a little of God’s perspective, the Bible says, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). God is unrestricted by time.
Though God is not controlled by time the way we humans are, He still puts great emphasis on it. He is always punctual—He always acts at the right time (even though to us humans it may seem like we have to wait a long time). He also has set aside certain times that He has blessed—for our benefit. These are designed to teach us important lessons and to reveal His plan to us.
As we think about managing the time we have we should realize that God created time as a tool. We were put in this universe of time to learn many lessons and to develop the character of God. Time, like all things in our lives, is designed by God to deepen in the believer a greater likeness to Himself. If we begin to think about time from this perspective, we have discovered something that most time management resources have forgotten, overlooked, or neglected.
So our first biblical reminder is that biblical time management means learning to use time as God wants us to so that we become more like Him.
Things That Reflect God in the Management of the Time We Have
God reveals to us what is truly most important in life. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). The end of Matthew 6:33 reveals an amazing thing about God’s priorities: if we put what God says is important first, the other things we need will be added to us as well!
We can’t take charge of our time without clearly defining our priorities. We must schedule what matters most first, or it will be pushed out by the hundreds of urgent and persistent things that come at us each week.
As it has been said, “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do what is important.”
If we are going to reflect the character of God in the way we manage time, how about taking some time to think through what your priorities are and write them down? If you do that, I bet your priorities will become clearer.
The Bible reveals that God is a planner. If that is so, then to reflect His character in our lives we too should be planners.
In light of this, what would be a few things to put into our plans each day?
- Plan time for God. This includes time for praying to God (study Psalm 55:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17). He also wants us to study His Word daily, as the Bereans did (see Acts 17:11).
- Plan time for family and friends. Relationships take a commitment of time together. For example, God commands parents to spend time teaching their children (Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:7).
- Plan time for work. The Fourth Commandment tells us that work should take place during the first six days of the week so that we will be ready to obey the command to not work on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11).
- Plan time for household chores and maintenance. Don’t be like the guy in Proverbs 24:30-34!
- Plan time for learning. The Bible extols the importance of continued, lifelong learning: “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5).
- Plan time for rest and recreation. Jesus took His disciples away from the crowds at times to try to reduce the stress and be rejuvenated (Mark 6:31).
With these two things in mind, it is time to put this into action. We don’t want to react to the urgent things that come our way, but act wisely as we put into practice our priorities and plans.
Scripture reminds us to count our days, to realize how short and precious they are, and to apply our hearts to wisdom (Psalm 90:12). The New Testament calls it “walking circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).
So what does that look like for you? What would it look like if you, or those you counsel, began to prioritize and plan life around the most important priority — the kingdom of God — starting today? I hope you will do more than just read this blog and agree with it. Make some changes and put these things into practice, starting today!
Questions for Reflection
What additional truths have you discovered from God’s Word about managing time? Do you know of any resources that would help us as biblical counselors to further develop the elements necessary for guiding our own souls, as well as those we counsel, through biblical time management?