Time Out: Time Management and Wise Living

How’s your schedule? Are you looking for things to do? Are your days full? Or are you feeling buried by the demands of home, work, and church commitments?

Commitments in my life tumble on top of each other in April through June. So when a drastic drop in temperature canceled a lunch picnic last Saturday, I breathed a sigh of relief. Even without the picnic, activity filled the day as I prepared for a dinner. I shopped, chopped mountains of vegetables, put casseroles in the oven and scrubbed dishes. As guests streamed in the front door, I was spot cleaning the kitchen floor with a wet paper towel and wished I wasn’t so behind on my housework.

When the evening was over, I got out my Bible. What wisdom does God have for me regarding how to use my time well, to get more done, to keep the house spotless? I read Ephesians 5:15-17 which challenged me to “make the most of [my] time.” 

I also corresponded with busy, godly friends about the topic and received good input. One of them wisely challenged me to check the context of the verses I read in Ephesians. She pointed out that making the most of the time was only a small part of a much larger passage about wise, holy living that glorifies God and changes our families, churches, and communities.

So what about time management?

Using time wisely is certainly not bad, but derails our Christlikeness if our goal is simply to get more stuff done. Wise living changes our perspective. Instead of doing more, we walk with God and flee from sin. His priorities become ours. Here are four principles that help:           

  • Christlikeness is the goal—not time management. As God transforms me, productivity flows from Christlikeness. (Romans 12:2)
  • One person is not indispensable.God uses the whole body of Christ to accomplish His purposes. One person has neither the time nor the gifts to do every good thing. Saying “no” to some quality commitments gives others the opportunity to be productive. (1 Cor. 12)

Matthew 11:28-30 contains the rest of the principles: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” (NET)

  • Motive matters. Pleasing or impressing people leads to over-commitment and stress. Welcoming Jesus’s yoke does not.
  • Invest in rest. God thought up the idea of a Sabbath and demonstrated it from the beginning. Jesus promises rest as well. We don’t need to apologize or explain our need to rest but plan for it instead.

Many engagements still fill my spring schedule, but I have renewed my commitment to pursuing Jesus, rather than time management. I hope you’ll do the same.

Beth Barron and her husband have worked cross-culturally for decades, first in the Middle East and now in the U.S. She teaches English to refugees and uses her writing skills to advocate for them. Beth enjoys writing, biking, vegetable gardening and connecting heart to heart with other women. She is involved in her church's External Focus ministry. She and her husband have three adult children, two daughters-in-love and three grandsons. Beth graduated from Rice University in Houston, attended Dallas Theological Seminary and is committed to life-long learning.