Time Is Money

Time Discipline in the Life of a Christian

Two of the first German proverbs I learnt in language school at Schloß Hurlach were, "Time is money" and "Practice makes perfect." Both are closely related; if we exercise proper organisation of our time, we will find "spiritual" riches.

A Precious Gift

Time is an important and valuable gift from God which the Christian will have to give an account of. It can be wasted or lost... and can never be recaptured. If it is used to its full potential in the ministry of God, it can obtain an eternal value.

We read in the Holy Scriptures that we should "Redeem the time..." (See EPHESIANS 5:16). However, we are often painfully aware of the fact that this is exactly what we have not been doing. Many of us have "feelings of guilt" because of the use of our time. The disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are continually fighting against all the things which cause the undisciplined use of time. The question is: How can we experience victory in this discipline?

Plan Your Time

Jesus said: "Do not worry about tomorrow. God will also take care of tomorrow. Live only one day at a time" (See MATTHEW 6:34). One day consists of 24 hours. If you calculate 8 hours for sleeping, 8 hours for working and 4 hours for eating, shopping, travelling, etc., there will still be 4 hours remaining. The essential question is, what happens in these 4 hours? How are they being used? You can tell the difference between one disciple and the other by what they do in these 4 hours. Do you use them for God, for your family, for relationships and fellowship, or just for wasting time?

Then ask yourself: Are there any jobs I can pass on to others? Clever men and women know that they cannot do everything themselves. You can save time by allowing somebody else to help you. This person can possibly do that job even better than you (See EXODUS 18:13-27). Relieve your time burden by allowing others to help you.

A Good Recipe

Years ago, while studying at a Bible college in New Zealand, I developed a good formula for Time Management:

1. Fill Leaky Areas: Watch out for small time gaps. Divide your day into "blocks of time" and use those five minutes of free time to start a letter, plan to read something, or to prepare yourself for worship, prayer, or work.

2. Check Your Priorities: You will always have more things to do than you actually have time for, therefore, carefully list your priorities. Decide what is:

  1. important, and
  2. urgent.

However, note well: We all tend to concentrate more on the urgent things and not enough on important matters.

Many of us waste time with unimportant things. We do what we like to do. We have to think about our day, check what the most important points are and then deal with them first. Do first what you would rather like to do last, and finish what you have started: "Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today." Things of secondary importance can be done later.

3. Start to Plan Ahead: A Daily Schedule is essential in order to make proper use of the day. How do we do that?

List All Activities

Firstly, pray for God's wisdom and guidance. Then, write down everything you have to do that day on a "check list", as it comes to mind.

For example:

  • Appointments;
  • Regular daily duties;
  • Pending work from the day before;
  • Necessary work which will have to be done and which needs attention;
  • Letters which have to be written;
  • Financial matters;
  • Meetings;
  • Preparation;
  • Washing - cleaning - tidying up, etc.

It is important to write everything down.

Do Not Plan Too Much For One Day

Jesus said: "The worries of one day are enough for the day..." (MATTHEW 6:34 para.). Our God commanded us to do everything orderly and with joy: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..." (ECCLESIASTES 9:10).

"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (COLOSSIANS 3:17).

"Rejoice in the Lord alway..." (PHILIPPIANS 4:4).

Do Not Forget the "Tiredness Factor"

For most of us the hours between 8am and noon are the most productive. Think of the proverb: "The early bird catches the worm." Men and women of Bible and church history who were used by God, knew about the importance of the early morning hours. The hours from 1pm to 3pm are generally not that efficient. Others become more alert late in the evening and can work well, but most of us experience tiredness and have to relax and rest.

Avoid Rush and Feverish Activities when Planning

Have a break in-between. "Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit" (ECCLESIASTES 4:6).

A Few Important Things

Take Heed to Punctuality:

Are you aware of the fact that you are stealing somebody's time, when you arrive late at an appointment, a meeting, or a prayer meeting? You owe an apology to that person and the people at that meeting. Much time can be won for God when we are punctual and keep to the set times. Therefore, strive to be punctual. Have a diary, to take a note of appointments and be there on time.

Interruptions to Our Schedule:

There will always be interruptions to our daily plan of activities. Often they happen when we are most busy! What should we do? - First of all, examine the urgency of the interruption. Is it a small matter, important, or an urgent emergency which you have to deal with at once - or can it wait? Wise men never ruin their day by allowing numerous unnecessary interruptions.

However, always be prepared to interrupt your time schedule at any time to talk to somebody and to help others. People are far more important than our time planning system. In fact, the highest aim of our entire self-discipline should be to help other people.

Whenever I read of the life of Jesus in the four Gospels, I become more and more impressed by the way Jesus was always available to devote Himself to people in need. Whether it was Nicodemus at night; the woman at the well during the heat of the day; or when simply passing by Zacchaeus, Jesus gave each one of them His personal time and attention. Therefore, do not be under the law with the use of your time, rather be open for the leading of the Spirit of God. Realise that some so-called interruptions are opportunities sent from heaven to serve the Lord.

The Effective Use of Our Time Depends on the Strength of Our Will

The proper use of our time is in our own hands and is our own responsibility. First of all, there has to be a genuine desire from our side to "make the best of our time." We make decisions of our own free will, but the Holy Spirit is the one who will motivate us and strengthen us in our deeds. The Holy Spirit works deeds in the life of a believer through faith and obedience. The apostle Paul expresses it like this: "God is working in you continually to make you willing and able to obey His own intentions" (PHILIPPIANS 2:13 para.).

The secret is to seek the Lord about the daily use of our time. If we desire to live our daily 24 hours to His honour, we will have to "seek His countenance daily" (See PROVERBS 8:34). We will have to enter into His holy-time-discipline, in order to live our days and years (the time on this earth appointed to us) effectively, and with determination, to His honour. Do not think of what you can do with your time, but what God can do in you and through you in the power of His Holy Spirit. Give your time to God and let Him reveal your daily tasks to you. "...A wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment" (ECCLESIASTES 8:5).

Allow Time for Relaxation and Recreation:

Many failures at work, with health, and in the Spirit have been caused by the fact that there were no disciplined times of quietness in the daily life of the disciple. Our God and Father put one of the seven days aside for rest during the Creation. Our Lord Jesus said to His disciples: "Come apart and rest" (see MARK 6:31). Therefore, make sure that your day has a time of rest and quietness.

by Don A. Kirkby

Translated from the original German: 'Zeit ist Geld'

Source: 'Der Auftrag'