Some of you might have looked at the title and suspected that this would be a time management blogpost. It is likely that we could all use some tips to be more effective with our time management. But this will not be one of those posts. I’d like us to explore the issue of time from a little deeper perspective.
A number of weeks ago in a theology class I was teaching we discussed the relation of God to time. While there are several viewpoints regarding God’s relation to time (as we experience it), there is one certainty—God is not constrained by time. He is not controlled by the past, limited to the present or burdened by the future. Time for God is a servant, not a master.
Yet for us, we are all too often controlled by time and its implications for us. By this I don’t mean merely that we are limited by time. We all have the same number of seconds, minutes and hours in a day. We have no control over the amount of time we have. But we do have control over the way we allow time to affect us. Too often we allow the pains of the past and the worries of the future to crowd out the necessity of the present.
Moving into 2020, I’ve been reflecting on the biblical view of time and how it should affect my own view of time.
We should reflect on the past, but not be bound by it. The past can be debilitating. The past contains failures, sins, abuses, wrongs and pains. If we are not careful, we can allow the past to shackle us with shame and regret. When we received the gospel, Christ freed us from the shackles of our past. Not only did he forgive our sins, but he made us new. While the things we have done or the things done to us do not magically go away, they no longer define us. The Old Testament is full of reflection. Like rowing a boat, the author of Psalm 136 looks back at the rescue of the people of Israel from Egypt. I believe this is the way we ought to view the past. Because of the gospel, we know that our past was cleansed, and we’ve been given a new direction. We ought sometimes to reflect back on how far we were from God and what God did to redeem us. Reflecting on the past is cause for thankful celebration.
We should prepare for the future, but not worry about it. If you’re anything like me, you have a lot on your plate and even more ideas and visions for the days ahead. Unfortunately, busy schedules provide a platform for worry and unsettled concerns. We worry about finances, plans, dreams or the busyness of our schedules. We fret about what might happen. In our worries, we distort today’s reality and disobey God. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that we are not to worry about our needs or our future (Matthew 6:25-34). A gospel perspective includes the future (God’s sovereignty and our eternal home). So we should prepare for tomorrow’s business. We should plan, pray and dream. But we should not borrow tomorrow’s troubles for today and worry about what we cannot control.
We should live in the present, not lose it. If we’re not careful we will squander today’s opportunities in the shackles of the past and the worries of tomorrow. We have an obligation to live for the kingdom of God daily, moment by moment. That phone call, card, prayer, text message, interruption, book oror meeting on your plate today might be divinely appointed. Embrace each moment’s task, conversation or interaction as a means of glorifying God. Don’t be so busy that the people and opportunities today are lost in a forever shuffle of moving time.
How do we embrace today’s moments for the glory of Christ? Here are some practical tips:
Pause today and reflect in prayerful gratitude for all that God saved you from.
Anticipate some people interruptions and treat individuals as divine appointments.
Listen to others and truly hear what they say.
In all you do retain an eternal perspective regarding those who are lost.
Take an hour this week to plan, dream and prepare for the future.
When tempted to worry, pray.
When bound by the past, thank Christ for your freedom.
When covered up by busyness, remember that you serve a sovereign God.
Originally posted as “The Relationship Between Pastors and Time” at LifeWay Facts and Trends.