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Christians and Time Management

By Abed Zien El Dien

Many people I have recently met are facing a hard time in keeping up with their schedules. This includes me. As students apply to ABTS, they are asked about their ability to spare enough time for their studies. Yet most will still encounter challenges with time management, especially since they have so much on their plates: family obligations, work commitments, and the list goes on. Adding in studies becomes hectic, indeed, if the skill of time management is weak. For Christians, time management is more than efficiency, as it aligns our daily rhythms with God’s purposes. Thus, here are some biblical principles as we reflect on time management so we can direct our lives with a deeper sense of peace, purpose, and spiritual alignment.

Biblical Perspective on Time

The New Testament uses two words for time: chronos (quantitative; e.g., Matt 2:7, Heb 11:32) and kairos (qualitative Matt 8:29, Acts 24:25). Chronos is about “minutes”; kairos is about “moments” or seasons. The Old Testament highlights the nature of time and our responsible stewardship with it. For example, Ecclesiastes 3:1 stresses recognizing rhythms and seasons in life, suggesting that time management is about discernment as much as discipline: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Additionally, Psalm 90:12 exhorts us to be intentional about how we use time, in order to reflect God’s wisdom: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Prioritizing with Purpose

Priorities are key to time management for a Christian. Jesus emphasized the priority of the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33), which then gives rise to positioning our activities with God’s purposes. Here are a few useful ways to prioritize our time as Christians:

First: Daily Devotions – Fix some reflective time with the Lord for your prayers and Bible reading. (In the morning if you are a morning person like me, or in the evening, if that suits you better. The most important thing is to prioritize this daily time with your Heavenly Father and not let life’s busyness and troubles diminish its significance.)  Although taking time for devotions might seem obvious, still this simple practice roots you spiritually and sets the tone for your day. Daily devotions are a time to ask for God’s guidance and to (re)position your heart to God’s.

Second: Sabbath Rest –Ceasing work on the Sabbath is not a sign of laziness. Rather, Sabbath rest is instituted by God in the fourth commandment, as a time for thought and for worship of God. Some theologians contend that rather than resting on the Sabbath in the sense of stopping work, God switched from the amazing act of giving creation a purpose, to the more routine, daily task of being God in His global temple. Therefore, as Christians, by keeping the Sabbath, we celebrate that God is in control, not humans. This also helps us slow down and develop a regular rhythm of rest to relax, to worship, and to regenerate our bodies and spirits, which has the added benefit of increasing our productivity in our everyday activities.

Third: Making Space for Family and Relationships – If not prioritized, close relationships are most likely the first to suffer when we mishandle our time. Investing in these connections demonstrates God’s love and creates a supportive and nurturing relational environment.

Balancing Responsibilities

We all have multiple responsibilities—work, family, church, and other personal commitments—and if we are not intentionally planning yet staying flexible, we will fall into a vicious circle of imbalance.

First: Set Clear Goals – Luke 9:51 says, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Although Jesus was not struggling with forgetting his purpose, nevertheless he steadfastly resolved to accomplish the purpose of his ministry. Identifying short-term and long-term objectives reflects our faith and values. By dividing these objectives into feasible activities, you can maintain your motivation and attention.

Second: Create a Schedule – Paul’s three missionary journeys took him over 10,000 miles and lasted around nine years. He would not have done it without making plans that addressed his top priorities. Using calendars and other scheduling tools, create a daily or weekly plan that outlines your responsibilities and includes time for work, family, relaxation, and maintaining physical and mental health.

Third: Avoid Overcommitment – Too many of us are overloaded with too much! Jesus said no to certain ministry opportunities (e.g. John 11:1, 3-7). Acquire the ability to refuse. It is vital to recognize your boundaries and abstain from overcommitting. Overcommitting could impede your potential to contribute without burnout in the long term.

Embracing Flexibility and Extending Grace

Embracing flexibility and providing grace to ourselves and others is critical for time management, as things do not always go as planned.

First: Adaptability – On his approach to heal Jairus’ daughter, Jesus was halted by a lady who had been bleeding for 12 years and reached out to touch His robe in hopes of healing. (Mark 5:22-43) Be prepared to change your plans if necessary. Unexpected occurrences and changes in circumstances are a part of life. Trust that God is in control, even when things don’t go as planned.

Second: Grace-Filled Living – The apostle Barnabas comes to mind here, as he was patient with Mark’s shortcomings. He is, after all, the son of encouragement (Acts 4:36). He intended to give Mark another opportunity after Mark had “withdrawn from them [i.e. Paul and Barnabas] … and had not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38). Extend grace to yourself and others when plans fail or chores remain incomplete. Recognize that the objective is not perfection, but rather faithfulness to God.

Third: Reflect and Adjust – In Habit 3 of his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective Leaders, Stephen Covey capitalizes on the Eisenhower Matrix as he discusses prioritizing your priorities. This matrix divides all activities in life into four quadrants as follows:

  • Quadrant I: Important and urgent tasks – emergencies and unforeseen possibilities, for instance.
  • Quadrant II: Important but not urgent tasks, including organizing leisure activities and fostering relationships.
  • Quadrant III: Urgent yet not important tasks, such as meetings and interruptions.
  • Quadrant IV: Tasks that are neither critical nor urgent, such as binge-watching TV or endless social media scrolling.

Given that Quadrant II includes vision, perspective, balance, discipline, and control, it should be the primary area of attention. It is a good exercise to examine your obligations and your schedule on a regular basis. Consider what is and is not working, then make the required changes. By doing this, you may maintain your focus on your objectives and top priorities.

Serving Others with Your Time

Making use of our time to serve others is a crucial component of Christian time management. We are obligated to lead lives of service, just as Jesus and the church in the book of Acts.

First: Volunteer – Jesus shared the gospel. He fed the hungry multitudes. He washed the feet of his disciples. Spend time serving at church or in your community. This can be through organizing or simply offering help to those who need it around you.

Second: Mentorship – One of the deepest impacts on my faith journey was the meaningful time my late pastor spent with me as he mentored me. In Mark 3:14, Jesus invested in relationships by mentoring others as “he appointed twelve that they might be with him…” Sharing your time and experiences may have a significant influence on another person’s spiritual and personal development. This could include young people or new believers in your church, or younger co-workers.

Third: Acts of Kindness – Look for ways to aid people in everyday situations. Small acts of kindness, such as saying a kind word, lending a helping hand, or simply being present for someone may make a great impact on their lives.

Conclusion

In a culture that frequently celebrates activity and productivity, time management as a Christian is about more than just being organized; it is about aligning our lives with God’s everlasting purposes. We may steward our time in an honorable and enriching way by prioritizing our connection with God, balancing our obligations, accepting flexibility, and helping others. As we face the challenges of everyday life, may we seek His direction, rest in His grace, and utilize our time to reflect His love and glory.

 

Abed is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry at ABTS. He is a member of the Church of the Nazarene and enjoys watching movies, listening to music and taking walks.

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