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Thinking About Time with an Eternal Perspective

Carolyn McCulley

Carolyn McCulley | 07.19.12
Twitter: @CarolynMcculley

11 comments

To Do List

I've been thinking a lot about time lately. Days seem to fly by faster than when I was a child. I once read that if your day flies by, that means you are absorbed in what you are doing and you are happy. So I guess that's a good thing. But as I've studied this topic from an eternal perspective, here's a short list of some of the things I've been mulling over as I ponder "time management" as a Christian:

  • There's only one person who will ever complete His "To Do" list and He already did it:

"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (John 19:30).

  • My ambitions about productivity have to be reshaped by the idea that I'm simply a steward. I am responsible for investing and multiplying what I receive from the Lord because I will give an account to Him one day for my activities. What isn't from Him is a waste of time. 
  • Discerning the difference between stewarding what God has put on my To Do list and what I put on there for other reasons is very hard. I have to recalibrate on a regular basis by praying over my priorities and activities. 
  • As someone who is chronically on deadline, I still must find a way to live with margin in my life. By this, I mean that I need flexibility in my schedule for God to interrupt me with His ministry needs. Those things usually arrive in the form of someone needing my help or attention. If close friends and family don't think they have access to me or can interrupt me, then I know I have things on my To Do list that shouldn't be there. Jesus had a very important schedule, but He was available to minister to others as He saw His Father at work.
  • Productivity is not the same as fruitfulness. Fruitfulness is the eternal measurement—the multiplication of the work the Holy Spirit is doing in and through us. Productivity is task-oriented but those tasks aren't necessarily fruitful when measured through eternal impact. I find I can get a lot done, but nothing that will be meaningful even next year much less in light of eternity. We will always have tasks like these to do, but are they crowding out what's important?
  • The tyranny of the urgent is even more of a harsh taskmaster in a constantly wired world. I first read Charles Hummel’s booklet The Tyranny of the Urgent as the Internet was poised to take off. Now I can appreciate even more why it is critical to schedule the important priorities before responding to the crush of urgencies and social media connections. (Enjoy this short read by clicking on the link above.)

As a follower of Christ, how do you think about and manage your time?

Comments

  1. This is true, but I think there is also something to the WAY we carry out the tasks that are required of us in the day to day - that we do them with a godly heart before a watching world, such that people see a hope within us that they may decide to ask us to give an answer for. So we prioritize, yes; but for those things that are beyond our control, we recognize (and ensure) that everything we do is unto the Lord, even meet those crazy deadlines as we serve well under the authority that God has placed over us - including the authority that comes with employment.

    I think the larger issue is the temptation to waste time in mindless things as an escape from the other pressures. Where do we draw the line between God-honoring recreation and sloth/idolatry?
    posted by Barbara
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 7:19 am
  2. Good article, but the link doesn't work :(
    posted by Kayla
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 8:04 am
  3. The download link has been fixed. :)
    posted by 5Q Site Administrator
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 8:32 am
  4. We need to be still and know that He is God, hear from Him in that quiet place as we wait upon Him, and then in His power move forward to what He has revealed we must pursue. This relates to priorities that are clearly revealed in God's Word as well as particular applications in the place where God has called us to allow the life of Jesus to flow through our entire self as we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Stewardship is one of the keys, and gratitude for the multitude of blessings God places in our particular lives is essential for us to walk in the light. In a world and culture of busyness and technology we must choose to be still before Him and then act as He has directed if Jesus is to be displayed in His true character. May His Spirit fill us to to His will alone.
    posted by Jewell
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 8:43 am
  5. This is so true and at times in our lives we are faced with the choices that put eternity into perspective.

    A little over a month ago we learned my husband has a very aggressive brain tumor. Short of a miracle, our time together as a family will be fairly short.

    This has changed our priorities in so many ways. We have a newly adopted seven year old daughter and family memories are the new priority. This includes teaching the values and life lessons from her Daddy as well as having fun together. Laundry, house work, or things just don't matter. What really matters is living for the things that will matter in eternity.

    We are focusing on what matters for eternity in how we invest our time. Whether that is instilling godly values in our daughter's heart, showing people how God is providing for us during this time or sharing the Gospel with those who don't know Christ, that is our focus.

    A serious, life threatening illness changes your perspective.
    www.prayingfordennis.blogspot.com
    posted by Ellen
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 10:50 am
  6. Have you all noticed that when we start our morning (even on our busyest days) in God's Word & prayer that we get so much more accomplished? Days when this doesn't happen I can look back and say, what did I do today? But on those days when Christ is my focus 1st thing, I swear He puts more hours in my day and much more is accomplished, all with His priority.
    posted by Barb
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 11:23 am
  7. Thank you, Carolyn, for your article. I always am blessed by your thoughts and insights. I esp. appreciated your words, "Productivity is not the same as fruitfulness." It's so easy to be busy, but busy doing things that maybe are not God's will for us at this time, and as you had also written, doing things that are not God's will for us are a waste and have no eternal impact. I remember Nancy doing a series on priorities called "First Things First" and she shared John 17:4 with her listeners as the key to effective time management. In John 17, Jesus is praying for Himself, His disciples, and us. John 17:4 reads: "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do." She shared that Jesus had said He had finished the work that God gave Him to do, not what he thought he had to do, not what others expected him to do, or all that had to be done, but what God had given Him to do, and that we need to do likewise. This takes, of course, a lot of wisdom, discernment, and prayer, which is why we need to spend time daily with the Lord to be able to discern His voice only amongst all the other "voices", including our own, vying for our attention.

    Dear Ellen:
    Yes, dear Ellen, a serious, life-threatening illness does change your perspective. My husband also has an incurable cancer, barring a miracle from God. I read somewhere that everyone is "terminal." I think that person who said that is correct. Our lives on earth will come to an end one day. The person who is told that he/she has a terminal illness just has a "heads up" that his/her time on earth may be drawing to a close closer than they thought, but all of us are indeed terminal, and we need to make each day count for Him. I know your world has been turned upside down, but I also know we have a faithful and true God who alone is our security and stability. I praise Him, for He is the Immortal, Unchanging One, and we can cling to Him when all else gives way. Praying for you and your family. I want to share a quote that I copied in my journal the other day. Joni Tada shared with her readers that her friend/mentor Steve Estes told her this early on in her quadriplegia, as she was trying to come to grips about why this happened:
    "God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves." God bless you and your family, dear Ellen.

    In His love,
    Arlene
    Ps. 63:8
    posted by Arlene
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm
  8. I like your differentiation between productivity and fruitfulness.

    I think the great benefit would be able to bridge the gap and bring fruitfulness into our productivity. This can be done if we release our control of what we are so actively trying to do, and let God. This is how I view it possible to bridge the gap!

    Thanks for the post!
    http://www.spiritofthescripture.com
    posted by Joshua
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm
  9. Funny that you should have this article on here today. My best friend and I were talking about time management yesterday and I told her that I needed to manage my time better so that I could make sure that I do what I need to do. It has been on my heart for awhile now that I need to do a schedule and manage my time instead of my time managing me. Time to be sober minded and think in light of eternity. Thank you for this article.

    I'm not facing a life threatening illness but I do understand that "we are all terminal". We need to live today like it will be our last day because one day it will be our last day. One day we will be called out of here, whether by rapture or by death, and we will stand before God and give an account of our lives. I want to know, when that day comes, that I have given my very best to God.

    Alot to think and pray about. God bless you...Jodi C.
    posted by Jodi C.
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm
  10. I absolutely LOVE the emphasis on stewardship in this post. There's not enough serious thought given to the subject in our day of "have fun/think later." Thanks Carolyn!
    www.christianhomeandfamily.com
    posted by Carey
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm
  11. How "timely" this article is for me! I have been thinking a lot about time as well, and actually wrote about it over at my blog: http://www.oftheweavers.com/suchatimeasthis/2012/07/12/time-to-talk-about-time/

    The biggest thing the Lord has been teaching me is that though we don't have time to do all WE want to do, we ALWAYS have enough time to do what HE wants us to do. What a comforting thought! :)

    Thank you so much for your thoughts on this. I feel encouraged to know others are learning along with me!

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    Amber
    http://www.oftheweavers.com/suchatimeasthis/
    posted by Amber Weaver
    on Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm

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