by Ircel Harrison
In a beautiful and arresting poem, the writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (3:1, NIV) As we enter into a new year, we naturally reflect on the past, the present, and the future. In this liminal time, we would do well to consider how we can most effectively use our time in the coming days. Certainly, as the writer states, there is a time for everything but what is the right time? We can’t do it all at once and, as good stewards of the time, talents, and skills with which God has blessed us, how do we use those resources effectively?
In working with coaching clients, I often find myself engaging with them about the best use of their time. They are usually gifted and motivated individuals who have much to offer, so there are many demands on their time and energy. People seek them out to accept new responsibilities on a regular basis. How do they make good choices about where they will invest themselves?
Let me share with you the questions that I ask of these clients and suggest you consider them yourself as you launch into this new year.
First, “What’s on your agenda that only you can do?” Based on ability, training, experience, or relationship, there are some responsibilities that are clearly yours to do. Family time is one of those things. Self-care and spiritual formation are other priorities. Building your practice by leveraging your relational network is certainly vital. Continuing to improve your skills as a coach is important. The challenge is to choose wisely. There are many things that you can do, but should you do them?
Second, “What’s on your agenda that someone else can do?” Are there administrative functions that a colleague, associate, or virtual assistant can handle? Perhaps there are some technological short-cuts or applications that would make scheduling, billing, or payment less time-consuming. Although coaching clients is certainly high on your agenda, are you always the best person to coach a particular individual? Do you know yourself and your ability well enough to know when to refer a client to someone else? Should you be training someone else to take over something you are doing right now?
Third, “What’s on your agenda that no one should do?” Everyone has those things in their lives that drain their time and energy and are no longer productive. Perhaps they were vital at one time, but they no longer serve a purpose. You may have a pet project that you have continued to pursue, but it’s time to close it down. As someone said, “When the horse is dead, get off.” Don’t put time and energy into something that is no longer giving life or forwarding your practice.
God has blessed us in so many ways, but I believe that God wants us to exercise good stewardship and make wise choices about where we invest ourselves. As you begin a new year, take stock of yourself. Determine what you are best equipped to do, what others might pick up, and the things to which you might say farewell. In that way, you will use well the time that God has given to you.