July 26, 2011
I Just Don’t Have the Time
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time (Colossians 4:5, NRSV).
Friend to Friend
Time management is a dreaded and often ignored spiritual discipline. We choose where to invest our time, carefully planning everything from work related meetings and lunch appointments to play dates and trips to the grocery store - but fail to schedule the most important activity of all, spending time with God. Discipline carves out time to sit at His feet.
Sin thrives in an out-of-control life, a life without godly discipline. Temptation happily dances across overcrowded schedules. Our minutes, hours and days are precious commodities, gifts from God that can be unwrapped only once. We can become so busy meeting the needs of others that we destroy ourselves in the process. I cannot tell you how many women I know who have given themselves away for so long that there is nothing left to give. Marriages fail, children rebel and homes crumble because flawed priorities dictate wrong living.
I know what it is like to rush headlong through pointless days, trying to prove my worth. For many years, I was busy doing good things … some might even say great things … but they were not the highest things for my life. I crashed and burned, landing in a pit of clinical depression, a monument to my insecurity.
From the bottom of that pit, it was easy to see just how skewed my perspective of time really was. I had poured years into making my plans successful only to discover that God resources and empowers His plan alone. It was painfully obvious that I needed an attitude adjustment, an eternal perspective kindled by godly discipline. I needed to understand that my time is not really mine but a treasure on loan to me from God. He wanted me to understand that He was calling me to work from His love and acceptance – not to it!
Every plan, priority and goal must be held against the backdrop of eternity because it is from that backdrop that our priorities are validated, our calling confirmed and our time best invested. Godly priorities embrace God’s plan. I am convinced that much of our frustration in life comes from doing things we were never intended to do. We create the plan as we go instead of resting in God’s plan. Discipline guides each step and establishes a basis for obedience and success in our walk with God.
I am, by no means, an expert in the area of discipline, but I do want to share some simple ideas that work for me.
Just as we budget our money, we must budget our time. Every day, we are presented with twenty-four hours, and every day we must choose to either spend those hours or invest them. Every Sunday afternoon, I do three things – write devotions, finish my online Bible study and plan the week ahead. I assign tasks to each day and prioritize those tasks in order of importance. That’s the easy part. The hard part is sticking to the plan, but getting a head start offers a greater chance for success. Schedule one day a week to plan. The preparation will pay off.
If we don’t set priorities - others will. Time thieves will steal the hours and days as we allow them to impose their plans and demands on us. While it is true that different women have different priorities in different seasons of life, it is also true that one priority remains steadfast. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33, NIV). Once that priority is firmly established, the rest of life will fall into place.
Learn to leave the “lesser” things undone. This lesson is especially hard for me because I actually believe I can do it all. The key to godly discipline and right priorities is learning what my “all” is and then doing all of that. My trusty “Superwoman” cape is never far away. Admittedly, it is a constant battle for me to ignore the presence of that cape, choosing to embrace and employ God’s priorities – not mine - but it is definitely a battle worth fighting. Godly discipline brings a holy scrutiny to priorities and perspectives.
Include every family member in the work and include every family member in the play. The concept of “team” is essential to every successful family. A chore is not just a random assignment. It says, “You are an important part of this team. We need you.”
Give up on perfection. It is meant for heaven ... not earth. I love the Amish saying, “The further we get from simple things, the further we get from God.” Jesus was born in sparse simplicity, a manger instead of a mansion. His teachings were simple enough for a child to understand. We often overlook profound simplicity in search of hollow complexity, foolishly thinking that bigger is always better. When it comes to investing time, we need to employ simple godly discipline.
My greatest mission field is my home, my marriage and my children and grandchildren - easy words to write, but hard truths to apply. It does not matter how much I do or how successful I am in ministry. If home and family are left with only the scraps of my time, energy, and emotions, I am walking in sin and disobedience.
Discipline does not come naturally or easily. We will surely fail but we can always begin again. Join me today in a new commitment to cultivate, apply and relish godly discipline.
Father, I want my life to be under Your control – not mine. Help me learn how to wisely invest my time in a way that pleases and honors You. Teach me how to set boundaries and establish priorities that will encourage my obedience to You. Empower me to live for You.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read the following statements and check the ones that are true in your life.
___I often feel confused and scattered.
___I have too much to do and too little time in which to do it.
___I think of myself as contented.
___I enjoy my family.
___I have a daily quiet time.
___I sometimes take a nap.
___I enjoy regular exercise.
___I spend most of my time on urgent things instead of the important things.
___I often feel guilty for taking time to relax.
___I have prayerfully set life goals.
Evaluate your answers in light of today’s devotion. Identify one change you need to make in order to invest your time wisely.
More From The Girlfriends
Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study.
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.