October 29, 2009
Time - Friend or Foe
by Mary Southerland
Ephesians 5:15-16a "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time" (KJV).
Friend To Friend
Time management is a dreaded and often ignored spiritual discipline. We choose where to invest our time, carefully planning our daily agenda but fail to schedule the most important activity of all, spending time with God. Discipline carves out time to sit at His feet. I am, by no means, an expert in the area of discipline, but I do want to share some simple ideas that work for me.
Just as we budget our money, we must budget your time. Every day, we are presented with twenty-four hours, and every day we must choose to either spend those hours or to invest them. Every Sunday afternoon, I do two things - write a weekly column and plan the week ahead. I assign tasks to each day and prioritize those tasks in order of importance. That's the easy part. The hard part is sticking to the plan, but getting a head start offers a greater chance for success. Schedule one day a week to plan. The preparation will pay off.
Once a month, have a family "spring cleaning". Go out to dinner, and together, eliminate anything that is hurting your family. Make a purposeful plan for adding only those activities that will strengthen each member of your family.
Learn to leave the "lesser" things undone. This lesson is especially hard for me because I actually believe I can do it all! The key to godly discipline and right priorities is learning what my "all" is, and doing all of that! My trusty "Superwoman" cape is never far away. Admittedly, it is a constant battle for me to ignore the presence of that cape, choosing to embrace and employ God's priorities - not mine. But it is definitely a battle worth fighting. Families, marriage, and souls are on the line. A right perspective is the direct result of godly discipline. In order to have right priorities, we must have right perspectives. Godly discipline brings a holy scrutiny to priorities and perspectives. Does it really matter? Is it eternal? Will it impact lives for God?
When it comes to family, include every family member in the work and include every family member in the play. The concept of "team" is essential to every successful family. A chore is not just a random assignment. It says, "You are an important part of this team and this family. We need you."
love the Amish saying, "The further we get from simple things, the further we get from God." Jesus was born in sparse simplicity, a manger instead of a mansion. His teachings were simple enough for a child to understand. A simple but stunning truth is His message. We often overlook profound simplicity in search of hollow complexity, foolishly thinking that bigger is always better. When it comes to investing time, we need to employ simple godly discipline.
When our children were small, I did not travel and speak as often as I did when they were older. I really tried to make my greatest mission field my home, my marriage and my children - easy words to write, but hard words to live. It does not matter how much I do or how successful I am in ministry. If home and family are left with only the scraps of my time, energy, and emotions, I am walking in sin and disobedience.
One of the greatest challenges in my life is to achieve and maintain a disciplined balance. I am not certain why balance is so hard to achieve, but one reason stands out from the rest - self. If "self" were a coin, one side of that coin would be pride. Earning the favor of God, proving my worth and longing for success feed that pride. The opposite side of the coin is insecurity. Believing the lies of the enemy, measuring my worth by what I do instead of whose I am, longing for man's applause and earth's acclaim can be counted on to fuel the sadistic fires of insecurity.
Both pride and insecurity are sin. Both are a preoccupation with self. Godly discipline draws attention to God and away from self, to His work and away from human effort, leaving the glory where it belongs - at His feet alone.
The most effective life is a disciplined life. Discipline builds upon discipline, each success encouraging another. Make the commitment to cultivate the disciplines of godliness, then pick a corner of your life and begin. Discipline does not come naturally or easily. We will surely fail but we can always begin again. Join me today in a new commitment to choosing to seek, apply and relish godly discipline.
"A man may be consecrated, dedicated and devoted but of little value if undisciplined."