Last week we looked at mastering our past, and this week I want to examine how you can master your time.
This would be one of the single biggest challenges for myself personally, especially so when I took on Ignite as a pastor. Honestly, if you gave me 48 hours in every day I would fill them up! Part of the problem here is that most of us just slide into the maelstrom that is time and commitments without a plan, without a safeguard and basically without a clue! Yet time is like money, and can be managed and invested wisely or foolishly, and you can master your time.
Imagine if you had a bank that invested $86,400 every day, but did not carry the balance to the next day. What would you do? You would draw out every cent while you could, wouldn’t you?
The bank of time is like that. 86,400 seconds invested every morning, but no rollover to the next day.
THE CLOCK… FRIEND OR FOE?
Most of us live by the clock… appointments, schedules and rushing. We even rush when we have no need to rush! How do you feel when the lights turn green and the little old lady driving in front takes 3 seconds to start slowly moving? “They’re not getting any greener, lady!”
Benjamin Franklin said, “Do not squander time, for it is the stuff life is made of.” He knew the difficulty when try to master your time
Most of us are continually frustrated seemingly always fighting the clock, habitually, as a way of life. We stay up too late, we sleep as late as possible then rush frantically to school or work, gulping down an unhealthy breakfast in the car, applying make-up (or using a razor) at the stoplight, talking on our phone at the same time.
Yet Jesus, tasked with the most important job in all of eternity, never seemed to be in a rush! He took time to sit with children and bless them, time to connect with friends, time to spend communing with His Father in prayer, and He did it all without a smart phone, a watch or a PDA! Time was His friend, not His enemy! Consider Psalm 90…
Psalms 90:4 (ESV Strong's)
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
A man was speaking to God and he asked him, "God is it true that to you a thousand years is a minute?" "That's true," God replied. "And is it true that to you $1,000,000 is like a penny?" "That's true," God said. "Well, you see I'm a poor man and I was wondering if you could give me a penny," asked the man. "Sure," said God, "in a minute."
Psalms 90:10 (ESV Strong's)
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Psalms 90:12 (ESV Strong's)
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
The God of all eternity, the God who is beyond time and space, I believe He has something to teach us about how to master your time from His perspective rather than our limited perspective… T.I.M.E
Time is precious, more valuable than money. How valuable? Treasure every moment that you have! Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.... That’s why it’s called the “present!”
A.W. Tozer wrote:
“Time is a resource that is nonrenewable and nontransferable. You cannot store it, slow it up, hold it up, divide it up or give it up. You can’t hoard it up or save it for a rainy day–when it’s lost it’s unrecoverable. When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.”
You can lose money and regain it. You can make more money, but you cannot make more time. You can’t rewind time and do it again. You can’t replay it and use it more effectively. When it’s gone it’s gone. It’s so precious, yet we often squander it and let it slip through our fingers. We invest in the wrong things, things that ultimately do not matter, and we do not master your time!
Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV Strong's)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The Cat’s in the Cradle” was a famous song written by Harry Chapin, and it talks about a man who never had time for his son, then later when he had time, his son never had time for him.
Maybe you’ve heard the song, but here’s the rest of the story: Harry Chapin’s wife, Sandy, actually wrote the words to that song after their son Josh was born. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. When their son was 7, Harry was performing 200 concerts a year, and Sandy asked him when he was going to take some time to be with his son. Harry promised to make some time at the end of the summer. He never made it. That summer, a truck hit Harry’s Volkswagen bug and he was killed… Time is precious, and you need to learn how to master your time!
- You can’t save time - you can only invest it
Time is more valuable than money, but it’s like money in that it can be spent and invested. It’s different from money though, because while money can be saved, time can’t.
It you don’t use time, you lose it. Forever. In the early 1970s Jim Croce wrote a song that said, “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do, is to save every day ‘till eternity passes away–just to spend them with you.” Those are great lyrics, and it would be nice if we could save time, but you simply can’t. In fact, a few months after he wrote that song, Croce was tragically killed in a plane crash at the age of 30. You can’t save time in a bottle, but you can master your time
- Where you invest your time reveals what is most important to you
There are 168 hours in each week. The average person will spend about 56 of those hours sleeping, about 24 of those hours in eating and personal hygiene, and about 50 of those hours working or traveling to work. That means there are only about 35 hours a week of “discretionary” time left over. That’s about 5 hours per day. Where are you investing those hours?
If I were to follow you around and observe you for those 5 hours, after about a week, I could tell you what is most important in your life. You might not like it, or agree with it, but for some of you, Facebook or surfing the Internet is most important to you. For others of you, watching television, or playing computer games is what’s most important.
Where are you investing your available time? One study of 1500 households found most fathers spend as little as 8 Minutes a day with their young children. Some might argue that it’s quality time that counts, but it is both quantity and quality that your child remembers. If I offered you a hundred dollar bill, would you say, “No, it’s wrinkled.” I’d rather have that new, crisp $5 because it’s of better quality.” I doubt it!
Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV Strong's)
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Are you investing your time into what is really important? Learn how to master your time now.
Managing the scarce resource of time is what I am going to share with you in a few moments.
I’m reminded of the old demonstration, where a jar is filled with big rocks and the teacher asks, “Is it full?” Yes, replies the student. Then pebbles are added and the same question is asked. Yes says the student. Finally sand is added and the teacher asks again if the jar is full. Then he fills it with water. The lesson is not that you can add more things to your schedule, the lesson is that the big rocks must be added first or they will not fit. What is important must be scheduled first, or you will have no time for it! You need to learn how to master your time.
Steven Covey, who wrote “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People wrote, “The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.” You cannot add to time, slow it down or have it again. So we need to manage ourselves to maximise the opportunities we have in our limited time. Put the important things in first. And trust me, if you don’t manage your time, it will manage you!
James 4:14 (ESV Strong's)
yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Our life is fleeting, so we should not only invest is the right things, but make sure that we enjoy the little time we have. Yes, there’s work we need to do. Yes there’s ministry to be done. Yes there are souls to be saved, but don’t waste your life being miserable… enjoy the journey, not just the destination! You get one life… have some fun along the way!
Even work can be fun! When you work within your ministry gifting, you enjoy life so much more. One of the reasons our church is so happy and bubbly is that people are doing things they love, with people they love!
Some things you won’t enjoy but you have to do them. I understand… that’s life! Just make sure you build in and around these things time for what you love. Do things that are fun with the family. For example, rather than forcing my girls to clean the house up, we would put the music on and do a rock n roll clean up, dancing and singing loudly. Make fun, however that looks to you, a part of life!
I work hard at my secular job, and also as the pastor of this church. But I am trying to build in time with people I love that relaxes me and I can have fun with. We bought a caravan, specifically to let me disengage from the pressures of my life and to have fun.
So even if it’s hard work, make sure you have fun along the way and enjoy the journey. You won’t get another opportunity to enjoy the same part of the journey, because life is fleeting! Master your time by enjoying it!
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN MASTER YOUR TIME?
So how can you manage this valuable resource we call time? Here’s 7 ideas on how to master your time…
1. CONTROL TIME KILLERS
A great first step is to take control of the time killers that are currently controlling you! There are things in our lives that are supposed to help us manage time, but that actually manage us and squeeze us into their mould. Number one in this is the cell phone.
Colossians 4:5 (ESV Strong's)
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
When your phone rings or a text comes, step back for a moment and ask yourself if that is the best use of your time. If you didn’t answer that call or text, would it really matter in eternity? The devil has us convinced that every call, every text, every Facebook status update is important! Master your time or it will master you!
For most people, their smartphone is like a drug.. it controls them, it robs them of what is truly valuable and it has them convinced that they cannot live without it! I know it’s hard, I have hundreds of calls and texts as a pastor, but sometimes managing your time means turning it off.
Psychology venue has a new term called nomophobia, the fear of being separated from your phone, and more than 60% of us suffer from that condition (Psychology Today)
One of the greatest time destroyers is worry, and the thing about worry is that it spills from one section of your life to another. Managing your time means managing worry… and placing each worry in a separate compartment can free your life dramatically and help you master your time!
But this involves treating various aspects of your life as completely separate. We find this incredibly hard to do, and so a conflict at work plays on your mind and affects your ministry and home life.
Matthew 6:34 (ESV Strong's)
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Jesus says that each day has enough trouble, so we should not be piling up these troubles layer upon layer until we collapse. Managing your time properly means not wasting it worrying about things you are powerless to change. Turn it off, stick the problem in an air tight compartment and enjoy another aspect of your life with freedom. As Jesus says,
Matthew 6:27 (ESV Strong's)
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
When you come home leave the day’s crises at work. Ideally, your home life and your quiet time should be unaffected by your work or ministry. Easy to say, but hard to do, but doing it helps you master your time!
3. BUILD IN MARGINS
Driven people like me love to set targets and time frames, and that’s fine, but you need to recognise that this behaviour stresses you out! We’re a piled-on, stretched-to-the limit society. We’re chronically rushed, chronically late, chronically exhausted. Many of us feel like Job did when he said,
Job 3:26 (ESV Strong's)
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.” [it keeps coming!]
We are stressed out in life… but Is there a solution? Yes. The solution is to put some margins into your life. Margins are breathing room. It’s keeping a little reserve that you’re not using up. We usually jam so much into our lives and run late for everything, and time masters us instead of you learning to master your time.
Being “Marginless” is when you’re 30 minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were 20 minutes late getting out of the hairdresser because you were 10 minutes late dropping the kids off at school because something unexpected came up and ruined your perfectly timed out plan. That’s being marginless. To master your time needs a good plan leaving some margin… room for error!
“Margin is having breath at the top of a staircase, money at the end of the month, and sanity at the end of each day.”
Proverbs 16:9 (ESV Strong's)
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
So what does adding margins bring to your life?
Peace: When you’re not hurrying and worrying all the time, you have time to think. Time to relax. Time to enjoy life. You have peace
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong's)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Health: Unrelenting stress harms our bodies resulting in all kinds of stress related illnesses. We all know that, yet we let it continue day after day after day. Many times the only time we get margins in our lives is when the heart attack almost happens or does happen or the blood pressure skyrockets.
Your body needs downtime to heal and maintain health. Even racing cars make pit stops, because it is hard to repair something at 200 miles an hour! Margins give us time to build our health up!
Stronger relationships: In a world where performance rather than relationship is the premium, building margins into your life give you the chance to also build relationships. Margins allow time to sit, listen and talk.
Usefulness in ministry: When everything is a rush, you only think about yourself and your next activity, and just getting through the day. You are unavailable to God, and not free to follow His lead to minister to others in unexpected ways.
So building margins into your life not only lowers your stress, it helps you connect with others and opens ways that God can lead that you may not have expected. Don’t cram so much in that you perpetually run late and live under stress… place margins in your life and master your time.
When you’re not managing your time properly you get deflected from doing what is really important in the long term by the urgent, the complainers or the current crisis. You find yourself doing what is urgent, what is pressing, but not what is important. Prioritising can give you the right perspective.
Prioritising means that you have to make a value judgement about what is demanding your attention. So what is the criteria needed to prioritise when you master your time?
Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV Strong's)
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Priorities must be based on God’s agenda, not ours. Ask yourself, Is this task important, or just demanding? Is it eternal, or just temporal? Is it the Lord, or just pressure? How do you master your time?
If I know that something is not really important in the long run, in eternity, I can breathe easy and relax instead of stressing! Why not sit and write a list of what is really important in the long run, then decide what time resources you want to devote to each of those items. Don’t win the world and lose your soul!
5. PROGRAM BREAKS
It’s ok to relax! It took me ages to understand this one point, so if you are a busy, driven person like me, recognise that it is ok to take some time out to relax.
Psalms 23:1-3 (ESV Strong's)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Come Ye apart or come Ye apart… if you don’t, you will! Some of us, myself included, need to take the time to sit by still waters. I’d rather grab a canoe and shoot the rapids, but still waters give time for the adrenaline to subside and the batteries to recharge.
My problem is (as for many of you), I feel guilty if I take time off, and the Lord is teaching me via the medium of a caravan that it is ok to have a break.
I am reminded of the woodcutter, hired to fell trees. The first day the boss gave him an axe, and the woodcutter brought down 18 trees. The boss was impressed and told him to keep going.
Motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only fell 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only chop down 10 trees. Day after day he tried harder but was bringing down less and less trees. “I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologised, saying that he could not understand what was going on.
“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”
Ecclesiastes 10:10 (ESV Strong's)
If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.
Time off sharpens your axe, so don’t be afraid to take breaks and recharge.
6. BALANCE YOUR LIFE
Life comes in seasons, and managing your time means embracing the seasons of life…
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV Strong's)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
In every life, work, ministry, there are times and seasons. They’re not bad or good necessarily. They are just times when things have to get done. As you serve, there are seasons to press in, go hard and serve selflessly. But you must balance these times with other seasons, seasons of rest, seasons of relaxation, seasons of trust and time with Jesus.
People too may have seasons in your life. Sometimes the friends you once had you drift away from, and new people come in to your life. Make sure you have balance even amongst your friends, because some will drain you while others will encourage you. Don’t fill you life with draining people, because they monopolise your time. Sometimes managing your time means managing friends!
7. KEEP YOUR EYES ON ETERNITY
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV Strong's)
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
God has put eternity into the hearts of men, and even people who are not Christians think about what is beyond death. When managing your time, think about eternity.
Ultimately only 3 things are eternal… God, His Word and the souls of people. Investing large amounts of time in these will result in great blessing and a great effect for the Lord. Put God and your relationship with Him first, then your family, then your work and then your ministry, your friends, etc.. Prioritise God first and all the other things come together… seek first His Kingdom!
2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong's)
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
In this chapter Paul says we get discouraged if we concentrate on temporal, worldly things, but encouraged when we focus on eternity. We need to keep our eyes on what is important in eternity. Getting that car or house, that’s temporal. Getting a good grade, temporal. Your opinion on Facebook, temporal.
So invest your limited time into God, His Word and the lives of men and women.
CAST YOUR BURDEN ON HIM
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV Strong's)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Last week I talked about casting your burden onto the Lord. Casting literally means throwing in the Greek, and in order to throw something you have to let it go! Managing your time is not about doing more and more until you collapse, it’s about seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness, and letting God show you minute by minute what is important.
Some of you here are overwhelmed by life, and not managing your time properly.
Your destiny is not to burn out. Your destiny is to soar with the eagles, to spread your wings and fly. But it is going to take changes, it’s going to take commitment to mastering your time in godliness, and it’s a long-term project.
Isaiah 40:30-31 (ESV Strong's)
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
In this busy, stressed out world, Jesus promises you peace. Peace that passes all understanding. God’s not saying hurry up and you’ll catch up to me, He’s saying Be Still, and know that I am God!