May I confess something before we get started? I assume this is a safe place. I am terrible at time management. There, I said it. I am not an expert at it in the slightest. This is borderline embarrassing, but I was given the ‘ok,’ to write this article back in February! It is now November and I am just now getting to it. I didn’t even make time to write an article on managing time! Notice that I said, ‘make’ time, as oppose to ‘have’ time. I had the time. We all have the time to do whatever it is we need to do; we just simply don’t do it at times. My wife, Natalie, says, ‘We make time for the things we want to do.’ So when I try to use the excuse of, ‘I didn’t have time to go run.’ She replies, ‘No, you didn’t make time, because it wasn’t important to you.’ Stings, but it’s true. Why don’t we do _________ ? It’s not because we didn’t have the time, it’s because we didn’t give it time. So whether it was an assignment, a ministry deadline, or time at the gym, it comes down to giving not having.
Instead of using words like, ‘making,’ ‘balancing,’ or ‘management,’ let’s use the word ‘delegation.’ We all have 24 hours in a single day. Our fruitfulness hinges on how well we delegate our time between our different activities and roles.
Was not writing this article back in February a bad thing? Was it a bad delegation of time, or was it a proper use of my time? This is precisely what we need to explore and apply to our lives. ‘How do we use our time in accordance with the responsibilities God gives us?’ Our roles and priorities answer this question. We must strive to organize our lives in such a way that our various roles receive the appropriate amount of love and attention needed to glorify God and love others.
Whether you are only one semester into your journey at seminary or you’ve been attending for several years, balancing your studies with other responsibilities is of utmost importance. God-glorifying time management is a task we will pursue for the rest of our lives.
Here is reality. With every new season or life stage, life only gets more loaded with roles and responsibilities. Those of you who are married know exactly what I am talking about. And if you have children you know what I am talking about even more! Being married with children is a busy and wonderful life! Then add ministry into the recipe and we are cooking up some busy schedules.
Let me give you a quick snapshot into my life and see where you can relate.
- Married for only two and half years
- One year-old baby girl
- One of the Pastors at a church planted less than two years ago
- Preach roughly 15-20 Sundays a year
- In the process of appointing elders
- Setting up membership
- Attending to discipline issues
- Leading a college ministry
- Discipling multiple groups of guys
- Leading a ministry team
- Seminary (5-6 hours a semester)
That’s just to name a few things I’m involved in! Consider your involvements.
Honestly, we are all busy. And we ought to be. Our lives or not our own, they belong to Jesus (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We’re to work like an ant (Proverbs 6:6-11), ox (1 Timothy 5:17-18), a good soldier, an Olympic athlete, and a fruitful farmer (2 Timothy 2:4-6). However, it seems that busyness has almost become a badge of honor. In response to, ‘How are ya?’ people often say, ‘Great! Really busy.’ This begs the question, ‘With what?’ Are we busy with: Facebook, Twitter, blogging, reading blogs etcâ€¦? We must not confuse being a busy with being fruitful. We need to aim at being faithful with our time and lives for Gospel work, not just active. (Acts 20:24).
Church history provides amazing examples of hard workers, oxen-like persons, who impressively delegated their time. In a biographical sermon on George Whitefield, John Piper said Whitefield would sometimes preach forty hours a week! That’s forty hours of actual preaching, not preparation, but preaching! Steve Lawson, in his wonderful book on the preaching of John Calvin, shared how Calvin felt like one month he had hardly done anything. Calvin felt ashamed and useless. What’s amazing about this is that Calvin had preached twenty sermons and delivered twelve lectures that month! (Steve Lawson, The Expository Genius of John Calvin, Reformation Trust, FL. 2007, 45.)
How busy are we? We’re probably not as busy as Calvin or Whitefield. But this begs another question. Was it right for them to be that busy?
At a recent Acts29 boot camp, Matt Carter, lead pastor at Austin Stone Community Church, preached a message on the lives and ministries of Wesley, Whitefield, and Edwards.
In that message he shared how Whitefield’s wife, lamented how much her husband labored. She said she loved George, but felt like a widow. Should he have been that busy?
If we give great chunks of time to our studies, books, and ministry but neglect our family, we are not honoring God. God is gracious and still does amazing things, but I don’t want my wife to feel like a widow or my daughter to feel like an orphan. We need to be very careful. Here we find our lifelong tension. How do we do everything we need to accomplish, do it well, and remain faithful to other areas of our lives?
This is where we get really practical. We need to think about prayer, priorities, and roles. In the next installment, we will discuss practical tips for managing our time.
Guest Writer: Jeff Medders is in his first year of studies at Dallas Theological seminary, and has hopes to transfer to Reformed Theological Seminary in 2010. He has been married to Natalie since, March 3, 2007. Between being the college pastor and a member of the preaching team at Redeemer Bible Church, a new church plant in Tomball, TX; he loves playing with his little girl, Ivy, born on November 21, 2008. Check out Jeff’s blog: EatBible.org