Maximizing Your Minutes
by June Hunt
“Making the most of time” can be a greatly misunderstood motto! Good time management is not marching to the beat of some rigorous, strict regimen on the road to productivity. It is finding the freedom to be all God created you to be by being balanced in your life and becoming a wise steward of time. This wisdom is poetically expressed in the balanced cadence of Ecclesiastes chapter 3, encouraging you to live in harmony with God’s movement … to go with God’s flow.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
A. What Is Time?
Both the Hebrews and the Greeks used different words with distinctly different meanings for our English word time. They understood the difference between time that is chronologically measured and time that cannot be measured. Gaining a sense of God’s eternal time means far more than living life by the tick of a clock.
• Passage of Time
The Old Testament Hebrew word yom means “a space of time that is chronicled by measuring a day from sunrise to sunset … or from one sunset to the next.” It is the measurable period on a clock or calendar.
“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.” (Genesis 4:3)
• God’s Eternal Time
The Old Testament Hebrew word eth, often translated as “time,” is a word that conveys the idea of an opportunity or a season; of perpetuity or eternity. The emphasis is more on what than on when.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
• Chronological Time
In the New Testament the Greek word chronos, which means “a space of time,” refers to the marking of hours, days, months and years on a calendar. For example, First and Second Chronicles record the history of the Hebrews from one king to another, year after year.
“Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.” (Matthew 2:7)
• God’s Presence in Time
The New Testament Greek word kairos is time marked for a purpose and filled with meaning. While chronos emphasizes length and quantity of time, kairos emphasizes characteristics and quality. Time that is made eternal by the presence of God is kairos.
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (1 Timothy 6:12–15)
TIME IS …
• Time is a gift from God to bring pleasure and satisfaction.
“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24)
• Time is the opportunity to invest in that which will last forever.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19–20)
• Time on earth is limited, and it forces us to focus on priorities.
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
• Time is immaterial when one is in the presence of God.
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
B. How Do You Utilize Your Time?
Do you manage your time well? In reality, you cannot manage time—you cannot slow it down or speed it up, but you can learn to make the most of your time! Your responsibility regarding time is listening to God’s Spirit and living in concert with God’s purposes for your life. The disciples were concerned that Jesus “take the time” to eat, yet He responded,
“My food … is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
Time Management … Achieving God’s Purposes for Your Life through Establishing and Completing Specific Goals
|Purposes (Ephesians 1:11–23)
|Goals (2 Corinthians 5:9–10)
|• The why of your life
|• The what of your life
|— You are created in God’s image to have fellowship with Him.
|— In what ways do you grow in fellowship with God?
|“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.’ ” (Genesis 1:26)
|Bible study, prayer, fellowship with other Christians
|• The aim of your life
|• The activities of your life
|— Is it your aim in life to please God?
|— What things do you do that are pleasing to God?
|“I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30)
|Forgiving others, making restitution, making His priorities your priorities
|• The reason for your life
|• The routes in your life
|— Perhaps your God-given responsibility is to be the best parent possible.
|— What specific activities will accomplish your purpose?
|“The child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40)
|Model the Christian life, teach godly principles
|• The message of your life
|• The methods in your life
|— You are called to reflect the character of Christ.
|— Are you working out God’s will for your life or following your own desires?
|“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his son.” (Romans 8:29)
|Setting and accomplishing God’s goals in the power of the Holy Spirit
Time management should not be just a method by which to accomplish more, but a means of establishing God’s priorities. It is knowing how to weed out those things that God wants you to eliminate from your life in order to have time to do His will. More importantly, it is living in intimate communion with the Lord as He enables you to choose wisely between that which is good and that which is better.
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
II. Characteristics Of Time Management
Scripture encourages us to “make the most of every opportunity,” suggesting that our time can be used in a disciplined and productive manner. Good stewardship with your time is no less important than good stewardship with your other gifts from God. Time is a treasure, a valuable commodity for which God holds each of us accountable.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”
A. Components of Time Management
|• Accepting responsibility
|• Escaping responsibility
|— Focusing attention
|— Overeating, sleeping, daydreaming, reading
|— Scheduling recreational activities
|— Engaging in excessive entertainment
|• Setting priorities
|• Overlooking priorities
|— Determining direction
|— Putting tasks off until tomorrow
|— Establishing tasks
|— Wasting time on unimportant tasks
|• Avoiding rationalizations
|• Making rationalizations
|— Refusing excuses
|— Manufacturing excuses
|— Avoiding self-pity
|— Indulging in self-pity
|• Rejecting false guilt
|• Being consumed with guilt
|— Rebuffing shaming accusations
|— Succumbing to shame
|— Resisting preoccupation with regret
|— Being paralyzed by regret
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
|• Becoming focused
|• Failing to be focused
|— Concentrating effort
|— Lacking concentration
|— Completing projects
|— Abandoning projects
|• Eliminating clutter
|• Accumulating clutter
|— Working neatly
|— Ignoring neatness
|— Organizing space and resources
|— Neglecting work environment
|• Committing to dependability
|• Failing to be dependable
|— Keeping appointments
|— Forgetting appointments
|— Meeting deadlines
|— Missing deadlines
|• Holding on to hope
|• Forsaking hope
|— Seeking a vision
|— Working without a vision
|— Staying motivated
|— Lacking motivation
“He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.”
|• Giving God control
|• Allowing others to control
|— Avoiding manipulation
|— Submitting to manipulation
|— Practicing unconditional acceptance
|— Exercising performance-based acceptance
|• Valuing rest and leisure
|• Giving up rest and leisure
|— Curtailing work to get sufficient sleep
|— Losing sleep due to excessive busyness
|— Striving for all-around health
|— Sacrificing health for perfectionism
|• Balancing play and work
|• Feeling guilty when not working
|— Prioritizing people over projects
|— Prioritizing projects over people
|— Planning time for family and friends
|— Needing personal recognition above family and friends
|• Setting boundaries
|• Being unwilling to say no
|— Pleasing God before pleasing people
|— Pleasing people before God
|— Confronting inappropriate behavior
|— Seeking “peace at all costs”
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
B. Consequences of Time Mismanagement
Frustrated Earthly Life
• Lack of intimacy with the Lord
• Lack of quality in personal relationships
• Lack of ability to relax
• Lack of ability to enjoy being quiet
• Lack of rest and leisure
• Lack of satisfaction in work
• Lack of emotional stability
• Lack of physical health
• Lack of joy and optimism
• Lack of a sense of self-worth
“The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”
Forfeited Eternal Rewards
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
|• Crown of Righteousness
| 2 Timothy 4:7–8
|— For maintaining faith
|• Crown of Life
| James 1:12
|— For persevering under trial
|• Crown of Glory
| 1 Peter 5:2–4
|— For being an example to and serving others
|• Crown of Joy
| Philippians 4:1
|— For leading others to Christ
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
(1 Corinthians 9:24–25)
III. Causes of Difficulty in Managing Time
Few things can be more frustrating than a wristwatch that doesn’t work. Yet if your prized watch stopped running, you wouldn’t throw it into the trash. You would take it to a competent jeweler to determine the cause. If you are frustrated over your misuse of time, consider the following possible sources of your problem.
“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”
A. Unresolved Emotional Needs
• Lessons from the past
— Was laziness or indulgence modeled in your family?
— Was seeking pleasure your family’s highest priority?
— Were your family members highly competitive?
• Longing for approval
— Do you let others control your time?
— Do you let others’ needs become your needs?
— Are you afraid to take a stand?
• Loss of identity
— Is your identity in what you do or in who you are?
— Do you feel insignificant?
— Do you lack meaning and purpose for your life?
• Latent need for control
— Are you intentionally late?
— Do you procrastinate or ignore deadlines?
— Do you resent authority?
• Low self-worth
— Are you running from a background of shame and embarrassment?
— Do you feel you are not as capable as others?
— Are you trying to perform perfectly to gain acceptance?
B. Unrealistic Expectations
• Trying to perform above your ability
— Do you have enough experience to complete your responsibilities?
— Are you adequately trained to perform the task?
• Testing your performance against the performance of others
— Do you try to do the same work as seasoned professionals?
— Are you trying to fill the role of a successful predecessor?
• Turning from God’s chosen tasks for you
— Do you feel that you are in the place God has chosen for you?
— Are you equipped by God for the tasks that you are attempting?
• Taking on responsibilities to better your lifestyle
— Do you take on more responsibilities primarily to increase your paycheck?
— Are you spending less time with your family so you can provide more things
C. Undisciplined Lifestyle
• Failure to seek His will
— Are you planning your life without first seeking God’s reasons for giving you life?
— Do you spend time with God in prayer and in reading His Word in order to deepen both your knowledge of Him and your relationship with Him?
• Failure to take personal responsibility for the use of your time
— Are you so busy helping others that you fail to take care of yourself and neglect to tend to your own affairs?
— Do you blame others for your lack of boundaries and for your failure to take charge of your schedule?
• Failure to balance worship, work and play
— Are you being a good steward of your spiritual life by giving adequate time to worshiping God?
— Do you fulfill your need for exercise and relaxation as well as your need to engage in productive work?
• Failure to recognize warfare
— Are you allowing Satan to steal your time by enticing you with worthy causes that are contrary to God’s specific plan for you?
— Do you feel so overwhelmed with responsibilities that you cannot see how you can do what God has called you to do?
What God reveals, He will empower, and what He empowers, He will bless.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
D. Root Cause
The underlying root cause of poor time management is the failure to choose to manage time. You can choose to manage your schedule, or you can choose (by default) to allow your schedule to manage you.
If you are having difficulty managing your time, it may be that you are attempting to fill a void in your life that only God can truly fill. Like the grains of sand in an hourglass that flow through the small opening into a vacant space, God wishes to flow into the emptiness in your heart. Failure to let the Lord fill you with His presence may result in your spending excessive time trying to do it in your own strength. Instead of trying to meet your own needs, allow God to fulfill your deepest desires as you entrust Him with your Treasure of Time.
“One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.”
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
“There never seems to be enough time for what I want or need to do. Outside pressures, responsibilities and circumstances are keeping me from accomplishing my goals.”
God will provide all the time I need to accomplish His purposes and plans for me. By resting in Him and responding to Christ’s Spirit in me, I will rely on His guidance for using my time wisely.
“Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.” (Ecclesiastes 8:5)
IV. Steps to Solution
A. Key Verse to Memorize
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
B. Key Passage to Read and Reread
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Jesus ministered as He went from one place of prayer and rest to another. He never seemed in a hurry, never seemed stressed out (until the Garden of Gethsemane). There is no mention of a 24-hour-a-day ministry. Was He lazy? Was He callous? The fact is: He didn’t heal everyone—it wasn’t His assignment. He simply knew what it meant to have human limitations.
The Wise Steward of Time
“Be very careful, then, how you live …”
• The wise steward—
— is aware of the importance of time
— is watchful, vigilant and on guard to protect time
— is conscious of accountability
“Not as unwise, but as wise …”
• The wise steward—
— relies on God for wisdom
— discerns God’s will
— is sensible and balanced
• The wise steward—
— commits each day to the Lord
— is open to God’s turning of events
— looks for opportunities to be used by God
“Because the days are evil.”
• The wise steward knows there will be temptation to waste time—
— from the outside world
— from inner cravings
— from Satan, the adversary
“Therefore do not be foolish,”
• The wise steward—
— learns from past mistakes with the use of time
— relies on inner strength from the Lord to overcome temptation
— knows how to discern between the good and the best
“But understand what the Lord’s will is.”
• The wise steward—
— spends time in intimate communication with the Lord
— listens to the Holy Spirit for direction
— knows his gifts and abilities and uses them for the Lord’s work
C. Practical Promises
“Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.”
If God’s priorities are to become a living reality in your life, you need to develop some practical habits that will encourage self-discipline. The spiritual life is not to be found in merely preferring God to sin, but in preferring God to even a good thing.
Picture god’s priorities for you.
“Test and approve what God’s will is …”
|• His will
| Deuteronomy 6:5
|— to have the Lord in the center of your life
|• His work
| Romans 8:29
|— to develop the character of Christ in you
|• His vision
| Matthew 6:19–20
|— to involve you in lasting achievement
|• His mission
| Colossians 1:28–29
|— to guide you to spiritual maturity
Pray about your use of time.
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
• Pray for a concern about the quality of your activities.
• Pray for God to bring His opportunity your way.
• Pray for discernment as you make choices.
Prepare your life purpose.
“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
• Discover your spiritual gifts.
• Determine your God-given responsibilities.
• Develop a written purpose statement.
Plan your goals … six-months to one-year goals
“An upright man gives thought to his ways.”
• Goals should be beneficial and important.
• Goals should be reasonable and reachable (attainable).
• Goals should be measurable and specific.
• Goals should be controllable and not dependent on others.
• Goals should be written and reviewed.
• Goals should reinforce your life purpose.
Prioritize action steps to achieve your goals.
“The desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”
• Make your goals a matter of daily prayer.
• Write out your daily priorities and keep them visible.
• Set written deadlines for completion.
• Cross off tasks as they are accomplished.
• Commit to keeping your goals as your priorities.
• Ask yourself these questions:
— What are my goals?
— What activities do I need to plan in order to accomplish my goals?
— What priorities do I have to arrange?
— When do I plan to do each activity?
— How much time will each activity take?
— How much time do I need to allow for events that I can’t control?
Prune the tree of time-wasters.
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles …”
• Don’t focus on doing more things, but doing fewer things well.
• Don’t respond to things that only appear to be urgent.
• Don’t touch a piece of paper more than once.
• Don’t answer the telephone if you are running late.
• Don’t plan to be on time—Plan to be 10 minutes early!
• Don’t give in to potential time wasters—
— failure to delegate
— lack of preparation
Practice how to evaluate requests.
“A prudent man gives thought to his steps.”
• Determine whether the request is in harmony with your life purpose.
• Don’t give an immediate answer.
• Ask for the request to be put in writing.
• Seek a different perspective from trusted advisors.
• Look for God to confirm the request if it is His will.
Present a polite, appropriate no.
“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
• Say an appropriate no more often than yes.
• Saying an appropriate no keeps your life from becoming overloaded.
• Saying an appropriate no allows time for growth.
• Saying an appropriate no provides ample time for all God desires you to do.
• Say an appropriate no with an attitude of appreciation.
“I appreciate the need for (or the) wonderful work you are doing in _______. However, I am so heavily committed in other endeavors, I cannot in good conscience undertake another.”
Profit from timesaving tips.
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit.”
• Use a personal organizer and planner.
• Keep a pen and pad with you at all times. Write down every small and large task to do.
• Create a detailed filing system—each family member, appliance warranty, etc.
• Group unanswered letters and telephone calls together for answering.
• Schedule appointments back-to-back.
• Establish concluding sentences for telephone conversations.
— “I have only about five minutes, but I wanted to talk with you about.…”
— “I really need to run, but I want to thank you so much for your help.”
— “Before we hang up, I want to thank you.…”
Prize interruptions as opportunities.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
• Ask God to show you the purpose for the interruption.
• Don’t worry over time spent on interruptions. If the interruption is from God, He will provide the time for you to accomplish all He has planned for you.
• Help unexpected visitors to look for God’s purpose in their visit. If they cannot identify it, they will probably leave.
D. From Chronos to Kairos
In the New Testament, the Greek word chronos refers to the marking of hours, days, months and years; whereas the Greek word kairos is time marked for a purpose. while chronos emphasizes length of time, kairos is time made eternal by the presence of God. By resting your body and turning your thoughts toward God, you can enter into kairos at any time during work or leisure.
R E S T
Remember God’s Presence.
• All through your day, during moments of joy, anxiety and unrest, reflect on the truth of God’s presence within you.
“The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Embrace God’s Love.
• Take the difficult challenge to accept and receive God’s unconditional love, simply for who you are and not for what you do!
“The Lord appeared to us in the past saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’ ” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Sharpen Your Spiritual Listening.
• Become aware of how you respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Understand that you will have a sense of peace when making a decision or a sense of anticipation when God is working something new in your life.
“I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.” (Proverbs 4:11)
Take Momentary Breaks.
• You cannot live in kairos all at once. Just as you would carry water on a long hike, drinking periodically, you need to stop during your day and drink often from the spiritual spring of life.
“Jesus stood and said … ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.’ ” (John 7:37)
Dear Father, What an unbelievable privilege it is to enter Your holy presence simply by turning my thoughts toward You. Help me to accept the trials in life and to use daily pressures and difficulties as an invitation to enter Your timeless sphere of eternity. Encourage me to recognize that this kind of rest helps me to discover what really matters in life and enables me to deal more lovingly with myself and with others. Most of all, thank You for the joy, peace and grace that is mine when my life is in rhythm with Your holy timing.
In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
|The Lord made your life like an arrow, but if you’re aiming at nothing, you’re bound to hit it. And though your target is right in sight, if you take on more than God has planned, you will surely fall short of the target. Straighten your aim, streamline your life and start enjoying your freedom in flight!
With grateful appreciation to Jamie Lash of Life Giving Words Ministry http://www.LifeGivingWords.com
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