Over the past 6,000 years, approximately 300 generations have come and gone. Some people live in poverty while others bask in the glow of the glamorous life. Some achieve wild success, while others wallow in failure. Some are thoroughly educated while others can barely read. Everyone is different.
Yet no matter who we are or where we live, we all have access to an equal daily amount of time. That element remains constant in every life.
Every day, we are each given the same amount and we all use the same amount. If we run out of time, we cannot go to a time bank to withdraw an extra supply. If we have a little extra time, we cannot set it aside and save it for the future.
We are limited by the number of days we walk this Earth. In Psalm 89:47, David wrote, “Remember how short my time is.” He continued in the next chapter, “Our days all droop under thy displeasure, our life is over like a sigh. Our life is seventy years at most, or eighty at the best, a span of toil and trouble, soon over, and we flit away ” (Psalm 90:9-10; Moffatt). When compared to eternity, how brief our physical existence is! The Apostle James referred to our life as a vapor which vanishes away (James 4:14).
Life’s fleeting number of days makes time one of man’s most valuable resources. So what are you doing with your allotted portion of time? Do you carelessly spend it as if on a million-dollar shopping spree? Or do you wisely invest your time so that you might get the most out of it? How effectively do you use the time God has given you? Did you know that how you use your time has more to do with where you end up in life than heredity and environment?
In the parable of the talents, located in Matthew 25, Jesus likened the Kingdom of God to a man giving certain talents to his servants before he left for a far country. All of the servants had a different number of talents. But notice verse 19: “After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.” They each had access to the same quantity of time. They were rewarded by Christ, not according to their talents, but according to what they did with those talents in their allotted time!
Benjamin Franklin once asked, “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made out of.” Our lives are only made up of a certain amount of time. If we waste it, we are wasting our lives.
In Matthew 6, Christ gave us an outline upon which we are to base our prayers. Toward the end of that outline, He said, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (verse 12). If we are humble and forgive others, then God will forgive us after repentance. In Psalm 103:12, David wrote, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Upon repentance, God is concerned about the future, not the past. To the repentant sinner, Jesus said, “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).
Repentance means change—to begin walking in a new direction, a different way of life. Put another way, if our lives are made up of a certain amount of time , then godly repentance means we are to change the way we have been using our time. After conversion, God expects us to use our time in a different manner—according to His will—in preparation for the Kingdom of God.
Whatever you have done in the past, no matter how much time we have wasted, do not let it affect the time you have today and in the future. Misspent time, no matter how wasteful it was, has already been spent. Don’t let it affect your future supply. How many times have we let down, given in to old habits, and then said, “Oh well, I already blew it. It won’t much matter if I continue in these bad habits for a few more days.” And then days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years. Before you know it, you have wasted your life.
If you want those years of wasteful time behind you, then begin to change how you use your time today. That is the first important step to learning how to manage your time better. Don’t let past mistakes or wasteful living affect what you should be doing today. Change your ways and then consider what you have today, right now—an unused, fresh supply of 24 hours! Think about what you can do with that much time!
1 Corinthians 14:33 says God is not the author of confusion or disorder. But Satan is! Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 describe Lucifer’s envious attitude toward God which led to his eventual rebellion against his Creator. As James 3:16 says, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Moffatt translates “confusion” as disorder.
Lucifer, who became Satan, is the author of confusion and disorder. His rebellion caused disorder throughout the universe even before man was created. Genesis 1:2 says the Earth became “without form , and void.” It became that way because of Lucifer’s sin.
So God re-created the Earth to beautify it for the creation of man. But man has abused this creation in the same way Lucifer did! Why? Because Satan is the god of this world! (2 Corinthians 4:4). And this world walks according to the disobedient course or direction of its god (Ephesians 2:2). Satan deceived the minds of Adam and Eve through their attitudes. He has been using the same strategy for the past 6,000 years, with much success.
Today, it seems normal to be messy and disorganized. Current trends in universities, movies, fashion and music even glorify untidiness. Things are again deteriorating to a state of waste and decay because of man’s laziness and disorganization as inspired by the devil.
But God is the author of peace and order. Moffatt translates 1 Corinthians 14:33, “God is a God not of disorder but of harmony.” God’s government is one of peaceful unity, harmony and cooperation (Isaiah 9:7). God is organized because that’s how He thinks. If we are to ever organize our lives properly, we need this mind of God (Philippians 2:5). We need to think like God does.
Realizing the brevity of human existence, David asked God, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). David wanted God’s guidance in order to make the most of his time. Paul delivered this same admonition to the brethren in Ephesians 5:15-16: “Be strictly careful then about the life you lead; act like sensible men, not like thoughtless; make the very most of your time , for these are evil days” (Moffatt).
What about you, your family, your job, your house—your life? Is it organized in such a way that things always get done? Do you make the most of your time?
Successful time management begins with soliciting God’s help and blessing to be on our daily activities and schedule. Like David, ask God to guide you in organizing your time so that it might not be spent wildly, but invested properly.
Always busy, but never able to get anything done? If so, then chances are, you have not yet fully learned how to prioritize your time. Even one who schedules every minute of his time treads water if he sets the wrong priorities.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let all things be done decently and in order ” (1 Corinthians 14:40). This verse says that God is not only concerned about how we do things, but about the order in which we do things. God wants to see what we give top priority.
What’s most important to you? Where do you spend most of your time? How well we use and prioritize our time reveals to God here our heart is.
Obviously, most of our 24-hour allotment goes toward work and sleep. We generally spend six to eight hours sleeping and about eight hours at work or school. But how we use the precious remaining hours reveals where our priorities are. For many, those remaining hours are devoted to unproductive leisure activities.
Let’s turn to God’s inspired Word to understand how to prioritize. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). This memory verse is about setting the right priorities! In this fast-paced society, people insist that there is simply no time for God. Truth is, most people do not make time for God. We all have the same amount of time, but not the same priorities.
God has given you the prerogative of determining what is most important on your list. You either make time with God the top priority on your “to do” list, or you put it off because something else gets in the way. But if we put God first in our lives, if we have the right priorities, He promises to add “all these things”!
Just look at what the right priorities have done for the Philadelphia Church of God. Each month, we produce the Trumpet magazine, quality publication provided at no cost to you. Furthermore, our television program, The Key of David, seen around the world, never solicits contributions. And television and publishing are only two departments of this worldwide work. Yet the Philadelphia Church of God has less than 7,000 members! Many people are astonished at that figure. We have said many times that God has blessed this Church because He is behind it—it is His Work. But God works through people. What would this Work be like today if the few members we have did not put God first in their lives? If we had members who were uninspired and lazy, nothing would ever get done!
God’s set of priorities works! Prove it for yourself in your personal life. No matter what, put God first, not just in word, but in action. If you do invest the proper time for God’s Work through prayer, Bible study, meditation and regular fasting, you won’t fall behind in your daily duties, you’ll finally gain control of your life and find that you get more done!
Since God is a family (Ephesians 4:15), and the physical family is an exact type of God’s Family, on your list of priorities your family should come right after God. Most failed marriages and delinquent children are a product of the same cause—wrong priorities! People dissolve marriages because they are more concerned about other interests or pursuits in life. Most are simply not willing to invest quality time into making a marriage work. Likewise, our obligation to raising obedient, healthy and happy children has been superseded by our own selfish pursuits.
Too often, people put their careers and materialistic goals ahead of the family. If each family member would only let God’s Word determine the priorities specifically suited for them, what a happy world this would be.
The husband was created by God to be the head and provider for the family (1 Timothy 5:8). Being a provider goes much further than bringing home a paycheck. A God-fearing husband and father provides leadership, decision-making, instruction, wise counsel, solutions to problems, service, masculinity, government, loving correction, and financial support to his family! A provider is concerned for his family most—not himself. That kind of provider needs to manage his time carefully to fulfill all of his God-given obligations.
The wife was created as a “help meet”—to be the husband’s helper (Genesis 2:18). Together, a husband and wife become one flesh. And with proper time management and hard work, they will be able to accomplish far more than one person ever could!
No amount of material success excuses wrong priorities, which lead to collapse within the family. Better to reduce your standard of living and eliminate selfish interests to preserve a happy family nucleus than end up failing in your God-given obligations.
In addition, God also wants you to enjoy quality time for yourself, but not to the point of selfishness. The problem with our society is that many people sacrifice quality family time and productive work time for pleasure seeking. Many even sacrifice sleep for leisure and end up crawling into work on Monday morning half dead! How twisted our priorities have become!
God is not against vacations or leisure activities. He is against wrong priorities (Matthew 6:33). As you organize your life, carefully plan time for yourself and leisure activities for the family. But strive to make these events wholesome and uplifting so that you might return to your daily routine with your physical, mental and spiritual batteries recharged!
Having the right priorities is critical to proper time management because only then will you devote the right amount of time to the most important matters. If you have organized your day and prioritized each item, even if you do not complete everything on the list, at least you will have finished what needed to be done most. More importantly, you will have devoted the right amount of time to those items of greater importance.
Making the most of your time goes far beyond just organizing and prioritizing a daily schedule. Solomon said, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). We only have so many days to walk this Earth. Life is too short to do just a mediocre job. God expects more of your time. Today, it seems the only thing some people work hard at is pleasure.
Many are familiar with the seventh-day Sabbath command in Exodus 20. With that command comes instruction for the rest of the week: “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work” (verse 9). In fact, it’s the hard, productive labor during the first six days which makes the seventh-day Sabbath so refreshing!
Working hard helps your entire approach to time management. It even affects your sleep, as Solomon points out in Ecclesiastes 5:12: “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”
As we strive to work hard and to do everything with our might, we must not overlook the important aspect of being efficient. Even after working on the job for 20 years or more, one can always grow in becoming more productive by constantly looking for ways to be more efficient—to find a better way of doing things which will save time in the future.
Always strive for efficiency and a diligent work ethic. It will not detract from your day by expending more energy at work. It will add to your day, enabling you to accomplish more on the job, at home, even while sleeping!
Satan has deceived this world into thinking that competition yields better results than cooperation.
Man’s spirit of competition can be traced back to the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve when they chose the way of selfishness. For 6,000 years now, competition has been the driving force behind man’s civilization. Today we find evidence of this way of life at the very heart of government, business, education, science, sports and in the family.
God’s way of life flows in the opposite direction of competition. Godly love is outflowing concern for the good and welfare of others. It puts God and His Work first above everything else. It esteems others better than self (Philippians 2:3). God’s way of life is the way of service—the way of cooperation. Why? Because that’s how things get accomplished!
Jesus expounded upon this principle in Matthew 12:25. He said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” It’s true with kingdoms or nations, with cities, with businesses, and with families. Those who work together accomplish much. Those divided by competition become disorganized and cannot stand. Again, James 3:16 says disorder comes as a result of competition. Learning to work with others is critical to making wise use of your time.
An individual skilled in time management is also one who delegates important tasks to other employees or family members. There are those who do not delegate because, as they view it, no one else can do the job as well as they can. Learn to delegate on the job, at home, or during projects. Consider the lives of successful individuals throughout history who have surrounded themselves with a competent and skilled staff which they trusted with important jobs. Consider the example of God and Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:9 says God “created all things by Jesus Christ.”
Jesus Christ, the most organized and productive human being to ever walk this Earth, also delegated! One of His purposes for coming was to build His Church (Matthew 16:18). Yet he raised up His Church through other people. That’s why He called and trained 12 disciples or students. Even today Christ continues to work and teach through members within His Church.
For all eternity, Jesus Christ and God the Father have worked together in a spirit of love and cooperation. In addition, they both delegate important tasks to those under them. So should we. To deny the help and support attained through cooperation and proper delegation is to deny yourself the opportunity of accomplishing more and becoming better organized.
The main reason people give up on the idea of organizing their lives and properly scheduling their time is because they find they cannot rigidly stick to their schedule. Have you ever filled up your daily “to do” list and arrived at the end of the day with only half of the items completed? Have you ever had an unexpected visit from relatives which completely altered your schedule for a few days? Have you ever had an unforeseen project or responsibility at home or at the office added to your already crammed schedule? Have you ever started a project you thought would take a few hours, only to find out it took three days? Have you ever struggled to even begin a project you knew would be difficult to finish? If so, then you’re a lot like everyone else in this world!
Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Be realistic. And most of all, don’t allow your schedule to control you—control your schedule! Be flexible. If you have the right set of priorities and your schedule is sensitive to unexpected events, then be encouraged by the fact that the most important things will get done if your schedule works for you.
Benjamin Franklin amassed a fortune and achieved great success in several different fields. Yet notice what he said in his autobiography about his struggles to stay organized: “In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to order; and now I am grown old and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. But on the whole, though I never arrived at perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”
Franklin never quit. He admitted he struggled with it. But because he kept up the struggle, he became more organized and happier.
In addition to being flexible, we must also allow for mistakes from time to time. There will be disruptions and problems which cause us to stumble occasionally. Always think the best. Be positive. Occasional mistakes and untimely disruptions will not alter your supply of time! The next day you will wake up with the same amount. Be persistent in organizing your life. The more organized and productive you become, the better equipped and prepared you will be to handle the unexpected and to deal with occasional mistakes.
Do It Now!
If I don’t get around to it today, I can always finish it later. Sound familiar? Proverbs 18:9 says, “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” Laziness and wasted time are related. A great many lazy people dream and talk about what might have been if only they would have gotten the breaks. But changing the way you live and the way you use time requires action! Don’t allow laziness to steal from your supply of time. Adopt the philosophy of “do it now”!
Solomon wrote, “In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury [or poverty]” (Proverbs 14:23). Thorough planning and organization will amount to nothing if we are lazy. Success comes through much hard work and discipline. Unfortunately, that is something few people are willing to put forth today.
Jesus said those who put off the day of His return, those who procrastinate , will be cut off (Matthew 24:48-51). How many of us have fallen victim to this disease of putting off things until tomorrow? At some point, our lives will end and we will be out of time. This fact alone should stave off procrastination.
God cannot use people who put off doing what ought to be done. He wants us to see how we have misused time in the past and make the necessary changes to see that it does not happen again.
The time to begin organizing your life is now. Do not procrastinate. Do everything with the drive and determination of one counting down his final days of life.
Next: Eternity Management!!
Time is the most abundant resource we have. God replenishes our supply each day. But God does not give it to us so that we might take it for granted. He wants to see how well we use it—how well we manage our lives. Human life is about organizing time and learning to use it in a productive manner.
At one time, the great archangel Lucifer was taught and trained in the very throne room of God. He was then commissioned to take what he had learned to Earth and apply it along with millions of angels who were to assist him. But Lucifer rebelled against God’s instruction and became Satan. What a waste of life!
Now Satan spends all of his time trying to persuade human beings to waste their lives so that we might miss out on our incredible human potential.
God created human beings in mortal flesh with an average lifespan of 70 or 80 years. During that time, God expects us to overcome Satan and his way of selfishness and to grow in God’s way of love. This takes time. And for those who do overcome and endure to the end, God promises salvation within His Kingdom.
God’s Kingdom will be made up of immortal spirit beings who cannot die and who will never be restricted by time. But every citizen in God’s Kingdom will use time effectively and efficiently because they will have learned how to do it in the flesh!
If it is used properly—if we learn to manage our time well—God promises to give us all the time there is—eternity!
Sidebar: Benjamin Franklin’s Daily Schedule
Benjamin Franklin wrote his daily schedule on paper, along with other thoughts and ideas. This is an excellent practice. After seeking God’s advice and counsel, purchase a small notepad and a daily planner or organizer. Use the planner to schedule appointments, meetings activities, deadlines, important dates, vacations, home repairs—you name it. You will find that your day-to-day routine becomes less confusing and wasteful. Use the small notepad to write down daily goals and ideas. You can even chart your progress like you would in a journal. We are still human and subject to heaps of distractions which can lure us into a state of disorder. Writing thoughts and ideas down on paper serves as a constant reminder and written guide of what must be done.
Sidebar: Go to the Ant!
One of the biggest lessons we can learn with regard to our brief existence on this Earth is portrayed by one of nature’s smallest creatures—the ant. Solomon wrote, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). Solomon was referring to the harvester ant, common in the Middle East region. These ants gather all sorts of seeds and grains and then store them for future use in organized chambers underground. Like most other species of ants, they are known for their methodical organization and diligent work ethic.
Harvester ants are also experts at time management. They work hardest during the harvest season in preparation for the winter months. They adapt to unexpected events like excessive rain. After wet weather, they lug their seeds outside to dry in the sun. And if some of their stored seeds germinate and begin growing while in storage, the ants snip off the chutes to stifle the growth. No matter what the circumstances, harvester ants work together and use their time wisely. It’s easy to see how a colony of these small insects can accomplish so much.
Like the example of the harvester ants, God’s people only have so many days for the harvest. In John 9:4, Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” Soon we won’t be able to work any longer.
When we consider how thoroughly the harvester ants prepare for the future, how each ant is a self-starter and fulfills its role, how they adapt to change and unexpected events, and how well they work together, we see why God admonishes us to look to their example. Do you manage your time as effectively as the harvester ant?