This month I am writing on Agenda, and why our time usage is so important to our faith.
A while back, I was a Youth Pastor serving in a church on a “trial” basis. I had to earn my job! Well, I dove right in and worked like crazy! I was still learning youth ministry, so that added even more hours. I was also commuting at the time – although it was nice to have this unwinding time, it also added 10 hours a week away from home. I was running at a fast pace – because I wanted that job!
The evaluation meeting came 6 months later – where I would hear if I had done enough to earn the job. I had! I was the official Youth Pastor! But a godly businessman in the meeting gave me a word of warning. He asked, “Do you think the Youth Group will keep growing?” I emphatically answered, “Yes! I think it will double within a year.” He replied with concern, “Then how will you be able to lead it? You have been putting in 50-60 hours now. What will you do when it doubles?” I quickly realized his care for me, and the fatal flaw in my thinking. I had worked hard but I had no plan for growth.
168. We all get 168 hours a week. How we use these hours is very important. God will ask us how we used the time that He gave us. I want to know that I made the most of my life.
Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” Each line in these verses is important. One part I want to highlight is “make the most of every opportunity.” In Greek this is literally “redeem the time.” How do we redeem time?
“Redeeming” is taking something of less, little, or average worth and filling it with invaluable worth. Jesus has redeemed us. How can we, with Jesus, redeem the time?
I have thought about this and coached others on redeeming the time. Here are some key thoughts:
- The first step is always realizing how we are using (or misusing) time. Keep a time journal for a week and see how much you sleep, or watch TV, or work, or waste time. Most of us don’t realize how we are using time.
- Learn how to redeem time with Jesus:
- We need to learn to be more efficient – making the most of the hours. This means setting time limits on tasks, making and meeting deadlines, learning to delegate, and letting go of unimportant tasks. Efficiency also includes rest – because we work better and more productively when we are rested.
- This also includes the order of things we do (most important things first – a hard habit to grow). We also need to learn to put first things first: God, family, friends, self. When we do this we avoid burnout and have fuel to drive.
- This creates a rhythm of time that is sustainable, significant, and life giving. Redeeming time means we work hard and play hard, living at the pace of Jesus.
- Have a coach or accountability partner. We can’t learn to redeem the time without someone in our lives who will call us out on our waste of time. We can’t do it alone because we will always justify our bad choices to ourselves and believe our own lame excuses. Find a friend who has the courage to speak the truth to you!
Over the years I have had a number of interns, and I have always put them through a rigorous “redeeming the time” program. They had to have goals, prioritized To Do lists, and an updated calendar. Then each week in our meeting they had to tell me how they used their time. Almost every intern has told me that this was their LEAST favorite part of the internship – and the MOST helpful thing they learned out of the internship. Learning to redeem the time, though painful, changed their lives.
168. You have 168 hours. How will you redeem that time each week with Jesus?