November 4, 2021
Time flies like an arrow;
fruit flies like a banana.
When I encountered that quip as a pre-teen, I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever read, and I still delight in sharing it. It takes the edge off the other remarks we hear or utter everyday about the passage of time: there’s not enough time; where did the time go?; how did it get so late?; the clock is ticking; time is running out; there are too few hours in the day; I could use just a little more time …
The thing is, time is finite. And it’s constant. We all have 24 hours in our day. No more, no less. It doesn’t go any faster or any slower for anyone.
C.S. Lewis said it nicely: “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
Now, it is also commonly said that the people who make the worst use of their time are the ones who complain the most about not having enough.
I’ve been really busy lately and you can bet I have been complaining about it, but I am reluctant to admit that part of the problem has been my time management. With all due respect to the blessed C.S. Lewis, sometimes commitments and projects and tasks pile up in a way that defy management.
A quick Internet dip into the sayings of leadership experts revealed this gem: “To master time management is to set priorities among your goals. There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do what is important.”
Okay, but what if everything seems important? What if you’ve said yes to everything and now everything is happening at once. How do we prioritize that?
As Christians we are constantly called by Christ to become more like him. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. Learn to have God’s priorities. Align your choices with God’s plan, and ask yourself, “does God need this to be perfect, or is my best effort pleasing to him?” “Is what I’m spending time on the best pathway to bring God’s peace and plenty to my community, my family, this earth?”
I have a colleague at work who, when people get bogged down in red tape or unimportant time-consuming details, will exclaim in exasperation: “It’s about Jesus, people!” It’s not exactly the poetic genius of C.S. Lewis, but it does focus us on God’s goals and priorities. People say, don’t sweat the small stuff, and yet we often let the minutiae of the secular world take disproportionate control of the hours God has given us. As Christians, part of our time management strategy must be to pause more often to examine the relationship between the fullness of our schedules and the fulfilment of God’s plan.
If you think I am preaching at you or that I have found the silver-bullet solution to time management, let me confess to you that I am writing this at 6am on the day it is due, in my pajamas, hunched over my laptop in a cold, dark room, glancing frantically at the clock in the hopes I can get this done and make some coffee before I have to start work. So, no, this girl does not have it all figured out.
Oh, and as for that thing I said about time being finite and constant … Well, remember the clocks are set back this weekend and we all lose an hour. Or maybe we gain one. No time to figure that out now!
A Prayer for Time Management:
Oh heavenly Lord,
My life is hectic and messy.
I never have enough time.
Guide me, oh Lord.
Bring order to my mind and life.
Establish your priorities in my heart.
Help me focus on the essential.
Let me seek you first.
May your word teach me,
And your spirit guide me.
May your kingdom come to me
To drive out waste and confusion.
Show me when to ask for help
or when to say no.
Keep me sharp and focussed.
Give me strength to resist the temptations
That leave me away from your will.
Your son gives me eternal life,
But my time on earth is short.
So manage my time, oh Lord,
As you see fit.
I can do all things through you
As I am saved by Christ and
loved by God,
in the name of Jesus.
from Prayer for Anxiety