It’s not just a matter of counting our days, but also a matter of making our days count! How we manage our time and our energy is critical to good leadership. I like to think of investing my time, not just using my time. Given who I am and what God has called me to do, what’s the best use of the time and energy He has given me? Rick Warren shares some solid ideas on what we can learn from the Apostle Paul on making the most of the time we have.
Originally published by Rick Warren
I know many church leaders who struggle with time management. But the good news is, it’s something you can learn.
You might think that some people are just naturally good at managing their time. But that’s not true.
The Bible tells us that time management can be taught. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should” (TLB).
If you’re struggling to get your time under control, follow these four steps from Paul to help you manage your time and make your life more effective:
- Analyze your lifestyle. “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)” (Ephesians 5:15 AMPC).
Paul tells us to have an objective and to manage our lives in a way that helps us achieve that goal. He urges us to be purpose driven.
The starting point to a life of purpose, Paul says, is to “look carefully” at your life.
To do that, you need to determine where your time is going right now. You can’t save time until you find out where you’re losing it first. Just like a budget tells you where you want your money to go, you need to analyze your time, so you know where it’s going.
You can start by keeping a time log for at least a couple of days. You’ll be surprised by how you spend your time, and this step will help you spend it better.
- Prioritize what’s important. “Do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17 AMPC).
Now that you know where your time is going, you can prioritize what’s really important. Paul tells us to “firmly grasp” the will of God, making it possible to focus on the right things.
This makes sense, because if God put us on earth, he has something for us to do. The good news is that God’s will for your life isn’t a mystery. He tells us what he wants us to do in his Word.
In fact, God has five purposes for your life. He wants you to love him, love others, become like Christ, serve people, and tell people about him.
Nothing matters more than these five things. If you get everything done on your calendar at the end of the week, but you don’t fulfill these purposes, you’ve missed the point.
Understanding these truths will simplify your life. Time management isn’t about how to get more done in less time. Effective time management is knowing what matters most—and doing that, not worrying about the rest.
We have just enough time to do what God wants us to do.
- Economize your energy. “Make the best use of your time” (Ephesians 5:16 NLV).
Time management is energy management. Just like you have a limited amount of time in life, you also have a limited amount of energy. You don’t have enough energy to do everything. You need to decide what’s important.
Although you’re free in Christ, Paul reminds us that not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). In Romans 12:11, he tells us to “use your energy to serve the Lord” (GW). That’s the best way we can use our limited energy.
Don’t waste your limited energy on things that won’t matter in eternity. If you’re too busy to do the five things God put you on earth to do, you’re too busy. It’s time for a little rearranging.
If you recognize that you don’t have enough time to do what God wants you to do, something has to go. If you’re going to add something, you need to cut something out. Don’t keep adding on.
- Utilize the present. “Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days” (Ephesians 5:16 GW).
To make the best use of your time, start living in the moment. Most people never learn how to do this because they’re always focused on the past or on the future.
Too often we put off until tomorrow what we should do today because we’re waiting for perfect conditions. The problem is, perfect conditions never come. Quit making excuses, and get on with what God wants you to do.
In fact, I want to encourage you to do these five things every day.
- Use today to worship God. Don’t save worship for Sunday.
- Use today to fellowship. Call a friend. Have lunch with someone. Spend some time building up your relationships.
- Use today to grow spiritually. Be committed to being more spiritually fit today than you were yesterday.
- Use today to serve others. Don’t wait to care for others. You never know if you’ll have another opportunity.
- Use today to share your faith. Again, you don’t know how many more opportunities you’ll have to tell your neighbor, your friend, or your family member about Jesus. Start that conversation today.
This is what God has created you to do. Make it a regular part of each day you’re on this planet.