by R. A. Weigel
Time Management! It seems that nearly everyone has some problem with time. No matter what you do… you’ll always have a finite amount of time to do what you want to do. To build a better perspective of time, start by recognizing that God invented time. God OWNS time! With that in mind… maybe it’s “time” to change your definition. It’s NOT time management… but it IS time stewardship.
1 Peter 4:10 (ESV) – As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
An understanding of stewardship is foundational for you as a Christian. It might be said that humankind was created to steward the earth on behalf of God. After all, God took Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it. (Genesis 2:15) That means that Adam was to work it, watch over it, till it, guard it, and protect it. God didn’t give Adam the garden for his own. He gave him an opportunity to steward it.
Stewardship defines a relationship. When you accept something to steward, you’re recognizing that someone else owns the thing that you’ve accepted, but you have the responsibility to manage, guard, care for, and use it wisely. Stewardship is recognizing who owns what you’ve been given, using it appropriately, and then giving it back to the owner better than how you received it. Whatever you receive in stewardship, you’re to use faithfully in the right way.
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
I remember when I first heard of stewardship. I needed a piano for my work, and I had a friend with a piano but not enough room in her apartment. We made a verbal agreement that I’d take care of her piano until she wanted it back. I used that piano nearly every day. I made sure it was kept in tune, at the right temperature, and in a safe place. I never misused that piano, gave it to anyone else, neglected it, or allowed others to damage it. Four years later she called and asked for her piano back. I was pleased to give it back to her in better condition than how I first received it.
Time is the only commodity we deal with which cannot be counterfeited, stolen or placed in inventory. Remember, time is irreplaceable. ~ Zig Zigler
Stewardship is your opportunity to have something entrusted to you, use it appropriately, take good care of it, and when called for, give it back. In most cases today, it’s the appropriate stewardship of items, ideas, finances, or possessions. Now, acknowledging that God owns time, and he has given it to you until he calls for it back, time stewardship becomes the appropriate management and use of the time he has entrusted to you to use for the purposes for which God designed it. For example, look at what God has already told you from his word about how to use time.
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. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.
God says to look carefully then how you walk. The word “carefully” might be translated as strict or exact. What do you need to do in order to be strict or exact with your time? God says to make the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Don’t you think God knows how you might best use your time in these evil days? Then God says… do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is. It’s evident that you’re foolish if you’re not asking the Lord how best to use the time he has given you to steward, and there are certainly techniques you can learn in order to do that.
What’s the opposite of being strict or exact with your time? It would be lenient, liberal, or easy going. In other words, don’t be ignorant of the techniques you need for time stewardship because there will always be people and things that are going to try to get you to use your time ineffectually. Who or what tends to steal the time you’re to steward? Remember, Satan is the thief, (John 10:10), and he consistently puts temptations and distractions in front of you in order to steal your time. What are those temptations and distractions? They often come on the wings of social media, advertising, lack of vision, confusion, certain people, turmoil, ignorance, and bad habits.
Psalms 90:12 – Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.
The idea of the fountain of youth has been a story that is as old as — well, as old as time. Generation after generation of peoples wish they could go back and be young again or time travel in order to have a “do over.” But numbering your days, (as the Psalmist declares), helps you to recognize how few they truly are. Numbering your days, recognizing the brevity of life, helps you realize your need to ask God to help you know how to spend your days appropriately in order to have the greatest return from the gift of time he has given you to steward.
1 Corinthians 9:24 (NLT) – Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
God expects you to use the time he’s given you with the perspective of winning in the spiritual race. Can you imagine running a race only to find out that you entered the wrong race? Oops! It’s pretty hard to run the Boston Marathon in Kansas City. You have to enter the right race in order to compete in the right race. The spiritual race includes good time stewardship to do the things that God wants done. He wants you to win that race and it’s not a race for money, power, or prestige. It’s not a race for who can get the most done or gather the most stuff. It’s a spiritual race that requires using the time you’ve been given for the training, thinking, and actions that God wants done for your benefit and his glory.
There are techniques you can learn in order to use your time more effectively. In the next article I will begin to cover a few of those techniques. But let me leave you with this important perspective.
The problem of time management is first and foremost a spiritual problem, well before it ever becomes a physical problem, and that’s why you must approach it as time stewardship, a gift of time given to you by God for purposes that align with him.