My life alongside God's word, volume 3. 21st century issues section.
– by Anthony Poggo
What is time management?
Time management is not about doing more things but doing the right things. The reality in life is that we always have many things to do and all of them demand our time and attention. Time management is about prioritising things in your life. A priority is, “something that needs attention more than anything else; something important that must be done first”. For you to do this right, it is important to discover your purpose in life.
Discovering your purpose in life
It is important to know that God has a purpose for each one of us. His purposes can be clearer to us when we are walking in accordance to His will. God’s will for us can be clearer when we know what our vision is. “The Lord will fulfil His purpose for me”, wrote David in Psalm 138:8. Our vision is, “the big picture of our life”. The Bible says without vision people perish, Proverbs 29:18 (KJV).2 Do you know what God wants to do in and through your life?
A story is told of two stonecutters. When they were asked what they were doing, one answered that they were “building a cathedral”, while the other one said they were
“cutting stones”. The one who said they were building a cathedral knew the purpose for what he was doing. The other one was merely earning his living.
Why are you doing what you are doing through your present role? Is it to make money? Or is it to make a contribution to eradicating poverty? Why were you born on this earth?
Some see their time here on earth as waiting for their time to die. Others see their life on earth as an opportunity to contribute towards the growth of the kingdom of God.
Which are you?
Some people look at their current circumstances and become discouraged because they are not where they want to be. Looking at your present is a part of discovering your vision.
For the Christian, it is important that your vision is based on God’s will. If a specific vision is from God He will make the provision, because He is a vision–pro God. Pray about your
vision. Share it, to give yourself clarity, or even to help others think about their own visions.
Our lives are short
Time management is important because of the brevity of our lives. David points out, “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath – Selah”, Psalm 39:4-5.3 Here is what the apostle James writes, “Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”, James 4:14. This means that for us to live as God would have us live, it is essential we make the best possible use of all our available time.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul warns the saints to, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are
evil”, Ephesians 5:15-16.
What does it mean to live wisely?
Living wisely involves using our time carefully. If we are living in accordance to God’s will, we will use the time we have to fulfil His will. Every minute of our time is time God has given us. So knowing that the harvest is great and the workers are few and that time is rapidly dwindling, should help us make better use of our time to witness, John 4:34-36.
The days are evil
The second part of Ephesians 5:16 says that the “the days are evil”. We are under pressure with many demands on our time. Our time, resources and lives are all under pressure to
be exploited by others. To avoid losing focus, we need to prioritise and set our own goals. If we do not do this, others will do it for us. If we do not stick to fulfilling our own life’s
purpose, plenty of other people will try to draw us into theirs. We must be discerning. Saying “No” is sometimes God’s will.
Importance of delegation
For those of us in leadership positions, we need to learn how to delegate. Moses’ father-in-law Jethro wisely taught him to delegate some of his heavy workload, Exodus 18:13-23.
Advantages of delegation
Lightens the work of the person who delegates and by so doing makes the manager’s job easier and enables the person to be effective and efficient.
Increases productivity as more people are involved in the task. Evangelist D.L. Moody said, “It is better to set a hundred men to work than to do the work of a hundred men”.
Develops additional leadership. This is how people get experience. There is no school or university that teaches experience. People get it as and when they actually do the work.
Stimulates employee creativity, motivation and commitment to the organisation/church. People feel valued when they are given additional responsibility.
Gives the Christian leader more time for his own spiritual development. The twelve apostles delegated some of their vital responsibilities to the seven deacons, Acts 6:1-7. “Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word”, verses 3-4.
Importance of daily Bible reading and prayer
We need to begin the day by reading the word of God and prayer so that we can hear from God and also speak to Him. We conclude with a clearer mandate of what God wants of us. This is why it is important to read God’s word and also to pray every day. Some one wrote: “Ask the Lord each morning to help you identify the good works that He has
planned for you on that particular day. Ask the Lord to show you how and when and to whom you might minister by using the good gifts and talents that He has given you”.
The Bible says, “Listen, my son, and accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I will guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life”, Proverbs 4:10-13.
Below are a number of practical tips that I have collected from different sources and personally found useful. I believe that these tips can be helpful to us in managing our time.
1. Importance of rest
We need to recall that God did all of His work in six days and positively rested on the seventh. Rest does not mean sleeping all the time. It means, “to spend a period of time relaxing or sleeping”. It also means, “to not use a part of your body that is tired or injured, so it can get better”. Our Lord Jesus often had time away to renew His physical and spiritual life, Luke 5:16, 9:10; John 6:15, 11:54; etc.
2. God hates laziness
God hates laziness. In Proverbs 6:10-11 we read: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like
an armed man”. There is a saying “laziness is the mother of poverty”. This common saying is not in the Bible, but these are: Proverbs 10:4, 12:24, 12:27, 19:15, 26:15. Paul writes in
2 Thessalonians 3:10 that any person who does not work should not eat. He did this
because some believers were not doing the work they ought to have been doing.
3. Importance of planning
The church in Sudan, South Sudan and our continent of Africa needs people who plan or think ahead. One of the challenges in our continent is the lack of planning. I am
reminded of the saying: “He who fails to plan, is planning to fail”.
Plans are strategies we formulate in our hearts. They need to be written down. Do write down what you need to do, and then put your list into the order of priority.
Plan your schedule and set your goals and dreams in the context of deadlines. Organise your time for maximum productivity and efficiency. If you do not, someone will soon
use up your time for you.
4. Write things down
Use pen and paper. This helps you remember things. I have a TO DO list. I cross out the things that I have done. We should not hide behind the fact that as Africans we are people who usually do not write things down. To see the things that are left to do on the list encourages more prioritising and more focused activity.
Some of our phones have settings we can use to remind us of things we are to do. I also use my phone alarm to remind me of the time to do things.
5. Be organised
Continually searching for missing documents or other items is a waste of time. Stay organised as you work. In the Bible, we find numerous references about doing things and
maintaining things in an orderly fashion. See Exodus 40:1- 16; Nehemiah 3:1-32; Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2.
6. Keep time
It is important to keep to time. An attitude that we all need to get rid of is the wrong use of the term “Sudan local time” or equivalent. When there is an event, estimate how long it will take you to walk before you leave, or go there by boda boda. Start your programmes on the time that you have agreed, even if not everybody is there. One fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control, Galatians 5:22-23. (Conference meal TIME in the picture! from 1985).
7. Eliminate the unimportant and time wasters
Here is a story I took from the Internet, from a document entitled, “Seven Keys to Good Time Management”:
"Charles Schwab, the president of Bethlehem Steel Company, hired a consultant and said to him. “If you'll show me how I and other top managers in our company can use our time better, I will pay you a fee of whatever you ask within reason”.
The man said, “All right”. He then gave Schwab a blank sheet of paper and said, “I want you to write on this sheet of paper all the important things you need to do tomorrow and list them in order of their priority. As number one, put the most important thing you should do tomorrow. As number two, put the second most important thing you should do, and so forth. Then when you go in to work tomorrow morning, start with the first thing on your list and stick with it until you finish it. Then move on to number two, and so forth.
You more than likely will not be able to accomplish all the things on your list in a given day, but you will have accomplished the most important things on your list, or at least made a major effort regarding them. Then tomorrow night, make a new list for the upcoming day. Do this for several weeks and let me know what happens”.
This website acknowledges this is “Taken from the book Success Gods Way by Charles
Stanley. Used by permission of New Life Ministries. New Life Ministries has a variety of
resources on men, women and relationships, visit www.newlife.com.”).
8. Review your day
At the end of each day you need to review the way in which you have spent your time. Evaluate your schedule. Ask yourself the following questions:
a. Did I make good use of my time?
b. Did I procrastinate?
c. Was I able to maintain my concentration?
d. Did I engage in activities that truly were priorities?
e. Did I make progress (even a little) toward the accomplishment of my God-given goals?
Good time management is an important aspect of a limited resource that God has given us. We all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We do not know for how long! We need to be good stewards, not only of our money and other resources, but also especially of the time. Time is one of our most precious resources. We can never keep it until tomorrow or
get it back once it has gone.
Here is a prayer by Moses from the Psalms. I believe we all need to pray it regularly:
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”, Psalm 90:12.
Adapted from a talk originally given at CYIA on 12 January 2015.