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Girlfriends in God - May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012
Trust God with Your Time
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV) “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Friend to Friend
Discipline is obedience, a lifetime process that brings us to a state of order by training and controlling our behavior. Discipline is focusing and eliminating, zeroing in on what is important in every area of life. Discipline not only leads to right thinking, pleasing behavior and balanced emotions but also produces a purpose-driven life based on right goals and priorities. 

Time management is a dreaded and often ignored spiritual discipline for many of us. We have either forgotten or failed to realize the truth that our minutes, hours and days are precious commodities -- gifts from God that can be unwrapped only once. Time is wasted unless it is invested in goals and priorities that are rooted in God’s plan.

A busy life is not necessarily a productive life, girlfriends. Oh, I can hear it now! “I am very busy, but I am busy doing good things.” Those words were the cry of my heart just before I crashed and burned and landed in a pit of clinical depression. The problem with my list of “good things” was that it was just that – my list – which was the wrong list for my life. The result was exhaustion, burnout and disobedience. 

One of the most important lessons of my “pit experience” was that my perspective of time was skewed. I had poured years into making my plan successful only to discover the truth that God resources and empowers His plan alone. Outlook determines outcome. It was painfully obvious I needed an outlook adjustment, an eternal perspective. I needed to understand the truth that my time is not really mine to do with as I please. It is a resource on loan to me from God. As a result, every plan, priority and goal should 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.

Learning how to trust God with our time is a challenge for us all. I am, by no means, an expert in this area, but I do want to share some simple ideas that have worked for me.

Tithe your time. Just as we tithe our money, we should tithe our time. God blesses and multiplies the time we set aside to spend in Bible study, prayer and service. 

Get organized.  In 1 Corinthians 14:40, we are challenged to “do all in a fitting and orderly way.” In other words, being organized is a spiritual discipline, freeing us from the tyranny of the urgent while making room for the eternal things that matter. Here are some simple organizational tips:

·         Buy and keep a calendar. Writing things down keeps me from wasting time and “bunching up” activities. It takes the pressure off to remember everything and allows me to see, at a glance, what is important.My weeks and months are more evenly scheduled and I am forced to prioritize, doing the important things first.

·         Choose one day a week to plan. Every Sunday afternoon, I plan the week ahead, recording the main tasks I need to complete and scheduling the appointments I need to make and keep. Pray over your week, asking the Holy Spirit to make clear those things ordained for each day. 

·         Simplify and eliminate.Experts advise us to approach spring cleaning by dealing with one closet at a time. The same principle works with time management. Break jobs up into manageable steps so that the large tasks seem doable. 

·         Tackle the dreaded task first.I have discovered that tackling the job I dread the most energizes me for the rest of the tasks. I have also learned to use my best time, the time of the day when my energy is highest, for the most important and the most difficult tasks. 

·         Stop activity when it becomes unproductive. Sometimes, a 10 minute break will boost energy, refocus attention and get creative juices flowing.

·         Begin a task, even if you won’t have time to complete it. I hate doing laundry and frequently long for the day of disposable clothing. As a result, I often do the laundry in phases. For example, I will start the wash and go answer email. I then toss the wet clothing into the dryer and work on a writing assignment. You get the idea!

·         Delegate.When we delegate work to our children, we are teaching them godly discipline as well as basic life skills they need to learn. The church is filled with people waiting to be pushed out of their comfort zones in service. Look for those potential leaders and delegate.

·         Leave margins in your schedule.I tend to fill every time slot during the day. Therefore, when the “unexpected” comes along, I am overwhelmed and unprepared. Building margins of time into our schedules is a step of faith, trusting God to fill them in any way He chooses. 

·         Yield to the seasons of life.When my children were small, I did not travel and speak as much as I do now. Do not sacrifice your family on the altar of a career or even a ministry. Our greatest mission field is our home, our marriage and our children. It does not matter how much we do or how successful we are, if home and family get the leftovers of our time, energy, emotions and spiritual service, we are walking in sin and disobedience. 

Let’s face it. If we don’t set priorities -- others will. Time thieves will steal our time as we allow them to impose their plans and standards on us. While it is true that different women have different priorities and different seasons of life, it is also true that one priority remains steadfast. Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…” Once that priority is firmly established, the rest of life will surely fall into place, and we will be trusting God with our time.

Let’s Pray
Father, I want to live a life of power and purpose. I now surrender my time to You, Lord, and choose to invest each moment wisely. I will no longer put off doing what I know You want me to do. I will line up my priorities according to Your Word and will seek to be more disciplined with my time. I will set boundaries that please and honor God. Today, I choose to trust You with my time.
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Read the following verses of Scripture. Memorize at least one and record it in your journal. What one new truth has God given you about time through today’s devotional?

·         Psalm 90:12 (ESV) “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

·         Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV) “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

·         Psalm 39:4-5 (ESV) “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”

More from the Girlfriends
For more help learning how to manage time, check out Mary’s E-Bible Study, Time: Friend or Foe. Need help learning how to live a life of power and purpose? Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, How to Dress for Successand learn how to live a life of victory. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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