|Vol. 13 No. 1 January 2011||
Time management is perhaps one of the most gigantic challenges of the modern race! Many years ago, a sister in the faith gave me two magnets that I have displayed on my refrigerator to this day. One of them says, “Before you go to bed, give your troubles to God. He will be up all night anyway.” The other one says, “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things — Right now, I’m so far behind, I will never die…”
The sentiments of those two statements sum up very well the exclamation we make or hear so often: “You have a lot on your plate!” I recently made that statement to a family member, and she replied, “My plate has turned into a platter!” A short time later, a close friend said, “My plate has turned into a tabletop!”
In September 1993, I attended the annual Palomar Mountain Ladies’ Retreat in California. The bookstore that was provided by one of the congregations was one of the features of the retreat that I looked forward to every time I attended. That year, I bought a book entitled, Time Management for Christian Women by Helen Young and Billie Silvey. In the 17 years since then, I definitely find myself in need of reading that book again in its entirety.
It is an excellent book, and I thought at the time it was just what I needed to help me get on track in putting first things first. The examples, the personal insights and most of all the Scriptures and how they are applied to everyday situations are outstanding. My problem still remains one of not putting all of what I read in that book into practice!
Several years ago, a sister in the faith gave me the following poem as a gift. It sits in a place and serves as a constant reminder of how vital the right use of God’s gift of time is to me.
A New Day
This is the beginning of a new day; I can waste it or use it for good.
What I do today is important,
Because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever,
Leaving in its place something
I have traded for it.
I want it to be: Gain, not loss; good, not evil; success, not failure;
In order that I shall not regret the price I paid for today.
Whether we ever give any thought to it or not, every day we live brings us one day closer to our last. We often find ourselves using the phrases, “wasting time” or “killing time,” not realizing that this abuse of God’s gift is what often leads to our plates becoming platters and tabletops!
So, where do we start if we want this new year to begin with a well balanced plate that we do not allow to be turned into a platter or a tabletop? We have hourly, daily, weekly and monthly demands on our time that must be accomplished. Some are self-imposed, and others are imposed by the church, our families, our jobs, school, civic duties, etc. The point is, we have got to decide who gets what piece of our day, and when, and why and for how long. Somewhere I read there are 1,440 minutes in a 24-hour day. Time is God’s gift to me and what is done with it is my gift to God.
Procrastination is perhaps the biggest culprit. Too many times, we won’t or don’t do anything until the push becomes a shove! One key in avoiding this trap of procrastination is to have a realistic “To Do” list. When we write things down that must be done, it gives us direction and power!
Another solution when we make our “To Do” list is to give a deadline to each task or errand to be done and each contact to be made. A list without deadlines is as useless as a house without a roof! We must also remember not to have every minute of every day scheduled. We must have “open” time for the unexpected demands, the virtually constant changes and the inevitable emergencies!
We must be sure to separate the important from the urgent. Important things somehow always get crowded out by urgent things, and that is when our plates start turning into platters, and before we know it, they are tabletops!
I heard a sermon a brother preached entitled “Biblical Principles of Success.” He had five simple points. He said if we wanted to be a success in any endeavor of life — spiritual, material, or physical, we would either consciously or unconsciously apply these five principles because they were all based in Scripture.
Jesus said in John 9:4-5, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” What about you and me? Is that our attitude toward the lives God has given us? Have we yet to realize that in comparison with eternity, we have only a few short minutes as it were, to allow God to fulfill His purpose for creating us?
Our Lord Jesus Christ is, and He provides the solution to our dilemma of managing well the time God gives us daily. If we follow closely the earthly ministry of our Lord, we will find that during the day, He was busy from morning until night. However, when night fell, He withdrew from the multitudes and spent the night resting and praying to His Father. We do have the account of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night in John 3:1-21. Even then, Jesus took the time to listen to this man and answer his questions regarding the new birth.
Jesus understood to the zenith the importance of prioritizing. He never turned anyone away, nor did He ever tell anyone to check back with Him later! Our Lord’s success was found in knowing what, when, where, why and how a person or situation needed to be dealt with and resolved.
Mark 6 is an account of a flurry of activity by Jesus and His apostles. Mark 6:1 says, “Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him.” When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue. The latter part of verse 6 tells us, “Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.” He then called His twelve apostles and sent them out two by two with commands on what they were to take and what they were to preach. Mark 6:14 tells us how all this activity had spread. “Now King Herod heard of Him, for His name had become well known. And he said, ‘John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.’”
After all of this, Mark 6:30-31 says, “Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.” Is this true for us? If so, why are we allowing it to happen? More importantly, when are we going to put a stop to it?!
We are told in Psalm 39 how important it is for us to know our end and the measure of our days. Verse 6 says most pointedly, “Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.”
In the latter part of Mark 6, Jesus fed five thousand men. Verses 45-47 contain great lessons for all of us. “Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.”
No one knew better than our Lord the value of solitude in prayer to His Father. Before He chose the twelve, He was in prayer all night long. Luke 6:12-13 tells us, “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Him; and from them He chose twelve whom He also
The strength and depth of our effectiveness is directly tied to what we have on our plates every day. Are our days being lived in honor and glory to God? If not, why not? In Isaiah 43:6b God said, “Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth — everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created from My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”
We need to resolve now to keep in balance this year or whatever time we have left. Life is such that there will always be demands on our time and attention. Even if we have a large plate that is full, we will be diligent not to allow it to become a platter, and a tabletop will not even be an option!