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Faith Alive! | Redeeming the time 1

1 – A “how to” guide

Grandma wants me to mow her lawn – and it hasn’t been mowed for a month. My best friend wants to spend the day with me at the beach – and it’s almost the end of summer. My girlfriend complains that I never spend my Saturdays with her – and she’s probably right. My little brother wants me to spend an hour at the park playing football with him – and I’m always fobbing him off. My car looks like it crossed the Sahara yesterday, it’s so dirty. I’ve got a major assignment to hand in next Friday, and a talk to do at Youth Group that same night. And what about my job?

H-e-l-p! Have you ever felt that kind of pressure – when you feel like you’re in the middle of everybody’s tug-of-war, being pulled this way and that? And then what about those personal, but highly important spiritual activities, like Bible reading and meditation, and prayer? Are they just quietly dropped, in desperation?

All of us fill many different and legitimate roles in life, all of them demanding time and energy from us. Think about it: we are first and foremost children of God, and time must be spent on building and maintaining our relationship with Him. But we are also children of parents, family members, relatives, friends, neighbours, owners of assets, members both of a religious body and of a local ecclesia, members of a youth group, employees, students … and the list could be extended. There is only so much time to go round. No wonder life gets complicated at times!

And, date unknown, but looming ever nearer, there’s the Deadline to end all deadlines: the return of Jesus Christ. “He has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world,” Paul warned the Athenians (Acts 17:31). “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed,” wrote Paul to the Romans in AD 60 or thereabouts (Romans 13:11). What would he say now?! “Surely I come quickly,” the Lord warned (Revelation 22:12,20). Then how important it is for us to “redeem the time, because the days are [more] evil [than ever]” (Ephesians 5:16).

Scripture is full of examples of men and women who did exactly that. Always busy about the Lord’s work, their lives are a record of diligence, conscientious hard work, and spiritual achievement. I only need to mention some names, and you know what I mean: Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Daniel, Nehemiah, Stephen, Paul, Tabitha, Priscilla and Aquila, Timothy, Jesus. While none of them had heard of electronic organisers, they all knew what was truly important in life, and occupied themselves wholeheartedly with God’s work.

Understanding and appreciating the grace of God, they filled every hour with praise and good works. There is nothing to stop us being exactly the same. But several things are needed: heartfelt and frequent prayer; regular Bible reading; a tremendous awareness of God; sensitivity to His law and thankfulness for His grace; and a willingness to be organised and diligent in His service.

Enter time management. More than watching the clock, time management is a simpIe system for balancing the many different demands of life, determining what is important, and doing the most we can in the limited time we have.

If you manage your time well, you know where you’re going; you can aim for excellence; you get things done; you have time for God, people and the important things of life; you are in a position to contribute in many valuable ways to the spiritual health of the body of Christ; and you experience the peace that comes from knowing you are doing your best to serve the Lord as he wishes to be served.

If you manage your time poorly, you are worried, anxious and stressed; you are probably causing considerable worry, anxiety and stress to those around you; you are getting a reputation for being unreliable; you have less time for God, people and the important things of life; you are not serving others around you as well as you could; you repeatedly miss deadlines, and you are beginning to litter your life with unfinished work and half-completed projects.

Any questions about the value of time management?

Organising your time requires some self-discipline, but it is not one of the mysteries of science. There are 7 simple steps:

  1. Spend time to reflect on the state of your life and focus on what is important.
  2. Set goals – the ultimate things to aim for.
  3. Work out what you need to do to reach those goals.
  4. Determine what is important in helping you to reach those goals – set priorities.
  5. Plan your use of time.
  6. Use your time well.
  7. Be flexible, allowing God room to move in your life.

The next few issues of Faith Alive! will put some meat on this skeleton, but the process really is a simple one. In all of it, it is important not to become so enamoured with the system as to lose sight of the fact that it is a means to an end: the greater glory of God, the greater welfare of others around us, and greater achievement and satisfaction for ourselves – in that order.

 

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