Time Enough (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
There may be a time for everything under heaven but is there time enough for everything you have to do in your life? I would be willing to bet that a vast majority of you would say “no”. Why not? Is there a way to get hold of the time-tiger that has you by the tail?
Time is a level playing field for all human beings. Each day has twenty four hours and no person gets any extra minutes. Some people manage their allotment better than others but they don’t get more. Time management courses and books are popular because so many people feel they have lost control over their life and they are hoping for techniques to organize themselves better so they can get it all done.
There are actually some very workable and effective time management skills out there and available — unless that is not your real problem. I’ve known people who have been taught basic time skills but who still complain about constant busyness, a feeling of being overloaded or having deep fatigue and sleep deprivation. Do you identify?
If you want to have “time enough”, you have to get real with yourself and get down to the root of your problem. That was my case many years ago when I complained that I couldn’t spare a moment to have a daily Bible study, explore some creative hobbies or join some church outreaches.
One night as I sat watching TV, a revolutionary thought hit me: how much time would I gain if I didn’t watch TV in the evening? I wanted to cover my ears because such a change of a long ingrained habit would be very difficult for me. Still, the thought gently nagged me until I was willing to let it lead me down a road to greater freedom.
Don’t worry; this is not about giving up TV. Maybe you already severed those ties long ago and you’re still behind. But something is wrong isn’t it? Didn’t Jesus tell busy Martha that her sister Mary had chosen the better part by sitting at his feet listening to his teaching while Martha served? Didn’t he say that it would “not be taken away from her”? (Luke 10:42)
Think about Jesus himself. He never complained about being too busy. He never seemed hurried. He regularly took time out for communion with his Father in prayer and called the disciples away for times of rest. In the history of the world, is there anyone who would have a better excuse to be overloaded? Think about his time pressures; he only had three short years to fulfill his mission. Yet, Jesus had time enough.
Here are some things to consider to get you digging below the surface of your rushed and busy life. Ask yourself if any of these ring true as a first step to regaining your time.
Do you find that no matter what solutions others provide you about how to manage your time, there is always a reason why those solutions won’t work? Do you even sometimes resent that they are making suggestions? Ask yourself why because “excuses” is a pretty sure sign that time management is not your real problem.
Do you operate out of a performance mentality? This means your sense of worthiness is tied up with how much you accomplish. If you grew up in a critical environment where nothing was ever good enough, you may now try to overload yourself with activities longing for that pat on the back – good job. If this is the case, time management skills won’t help you; it may even feed your need to max out each day. Stop and work on the real issue: you are worthy in God’s eyes regardless of how much or little you accomplish.
Why are you so busy? Who picked the activities that now overload you? I know someone who constantly manages various family crises but from my vantage point it looks like some of it is enabling activity for those family members. You are not the solution to all the problems of the world and God doesn’t call you to be a one man show.
Jesus always said he only did what he saw the Father doing. He flowed with the Spirit of God instead of picking his own agenda. You can do the same thing. Sit down and write a log of what is taking up all your time. Next, ask God which of those things are from his heart and which aren’t. You won’t have to feel guilty when you axe all the things which God never asked you to do anyhow.
Can’t say no
Are you overloaded because you can’t say no? This may be rooted in a desire to have everyone like you or in a need to please people. Or, it may be rooted in a sense of intimidation; you’ve never learned the skills of confronting or directness. Again, by working on that underlying issue you can successfully free up a large chunk on time.
Are you filling up every minute to subconsciously avoid facing some issue or situation that is too hard? As long as you run breathlessly along in life, there is no time to deal with any deep heart issue that God may want you to work through for your own health and well being.
Before you try to better manage your time, try to get to the root of why that time-tiger has such a good grip on you. Then you can learn some simple things about time management that will really work. Then, like Jesus, you will have time enough.