I’ve learned five things about managing my time from observing Jesus’ life.
I missed the deadline. The article you’re reading right now was due yesterday or the day before. I can’t remember which.
It’s not my fault.
Let me explain.
I was getting ready to write the article. I had my idea. I had the outline. I had just written an eye catching opening line when the phone rang.
A young couple in our church was having a baby. Congratulations!
No. No congratulations. The little fellow was coming too early. He was only 23 weeks old. The doctors were hoping they could hold him off until 30 weeks, but he had come early anyway. His lungs weren’t fully developed yet. He was having trouble breathing. He was weak and tiny.
The doctors could make no promises.
So, I went to hospital. I talked to mom and dad, grandmothers and grandfathers. I talked—and listened—to aunts and uncles and countless friends. And we prayed. All of them wanted to know the same thing. Why did this happen? Where is God? Can we pray for a miracle?
What do you say? I’ve been in this situation more times than I can remember and I’ve never known what to say.
I stayed several hours. By the time I got home, I was emotionally drained and mentally exhausted. I knew I had promised to write this article, but I was just too tired. So, I missed the deadline.
Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t a hero of any kind. Every pastor you know has a similar story. It’s just what we do. If somebody needs us, we go.
And we miss deadlines. Sermons don’t get the level of the depth of attention they need. We walk into meetings tired and less prepared than we want and too many times, our families are left with the leftovers.
For years, I felt guilty about how bad I was at time management. I tried every planner, theory, strategy that was offered. I read every book by every management guru I could find.
None of it ever worked for me.
Then, in my reading I noticed some things about how Jesus lived his life and what that said about time management. No, Jesus didn’t give any seminars on time management.
He lived one.
First of all, Jesus knew who he was and he knew what he was sent to do. He didn’t allow anyone else to define him, and he never surrendered to anyone else’s agenda. When Peter came and told him the crowds were waiting, Jesus told Peter they should move on to the other villages because that’s why he had come. I have wasted years of my life trying to live up to someone’s false expectations of me, and held captive to someone’s agenda. Jesus taught me to take myself and my calling more seriously. Like Jesus, I was sent on a mission. This mission has always been and always will be the highest and best use of my time.
Second, take advantage of downtime. Not every day is a crisis. Not every week is filled with emergencies. There are days where nothing particularly important seems to be happen. These are the moments to study, pray, write, invest in family and friends. Jesus made it a habit to disappear in the wilderness. He would walk for days with his disciples. Jesus knew the time would come when much would be asked of him. He used his days wisely to be prepared for when they did.
Third, Jesus knew not everything called an “emergency” actually is an emergency. He refused to be pulled into a false crisis of someone else’s making. Because Jesus had fully said yes to his mission, he was free to say no to everything else. This is a lesson that took me years to learn. There are a few things I’m good at, and I’m not good at much else. I need to say “yes” to the moments where I can bring my best efforts and “no” to everything else. Just doing that will save me days of time every year.
Fourth, Jesus knew interruptions were part of life—part of his ministry. Most of the stories we have about Jesus begin with someone coming up and interrupting Jesus. Yet, Jesus was always free to stop and be in the moment. Jesus never made anyone feel like He had brushed them off or pushed them aside. If anything, Jesus gave the person He was talking to too much attention. His focus could be intense. Every day I have to remind myself to be where I am; to give my attention fully to the person I’m with. Jesus gives us the freedom to always respond appropriately to each other. He was never in a rush. We shouldn’t live that way either.
And Jesus always knew where he was going. He never took his eye off of Jerusalem. Israel was never far from his heart. He never wavered or hesitated. Jesus knew who he was. He knew where he was going. That’s why Jesus made every moment count.
Our time problem isn’t we’ve got too much to do in too little time, but we don’t know who we are and we don’t know why we’re here. We keep committing to things we hope will bring our identity to us. We get involved in things we hope will give our lives meanings.
And we waste years of our lives. Jesus knew who he was. Jesus knew where he was going. Jesus knew his mission. Allocating his time accordingly was easy because he knew the answers to the essential questions of life.
After years of trying, I’m finally getting hold of my time. I know who I am. I know what I’m called to do and I love doing what I do.
And sometimes, I’ll miss a deadline, but when I do, I’ll know why. I’m OK with that. I hope my friends are as well.
This article originally appeared on Jesus Creed and is reposted here by permission.