What do you spend most of your time doing? If you were to take a blank schedule, every hour and every day of the week marked out, and filled it in with what you did this past week, what would stand out?
- Work, probably – 40+ hours
- Sleep, even more so – maybe 35+ hours (hopefully!)
- Time with spouse and family, hopefully
- Time with friends
- Probably a lot of “down time” on your particular hobbies.
- Exercise and eating (don’t try to do both simultaneously!)
Odds are, if you were to write down everything, you would be surprised – “Wow, I really spend a lot of time with my best friend Netflix!” “Eek, I really am very selfish with my time.” “Boy howdy, most of my life is just sleep and work!”
It’s easy to feel guilty about how we use our time – after all, we are a scheduled, time-saving sort of society. We measure life in hour increments and there’s a big push for good time-management, whether Christian or secular.
It’s so easy to get legalistic or too rigid about the whole thing. I know I do – I sequester devos and prayer and time with my wife and even discipleship relationships to a designated space on the schedule, not realizing that true relationships can never be put into a box on the calendar.
What are we to do? We are all pretty bad at time-management. And we know it, at least if we stop and think about it. I think one thing we must do when feeling guilty or overwhelmed with managing time is to look to Jesus. Come to think of it, that’s a good strategy for any life problem!
Getting on Jesus’ Schedule
Mark 1:21-39 presents a typical day for Jesus, especially early on in His ministry. Glancing through it, you get a glimpse of how Jesus spent His time:
- He taught people (vs. 21) – certain ones of us have this responsibility also.
- He cast out demons (vs. 25) – er, can’t schedule this into my calendar.
- Spent time with disciples (vs. 29) – and note, he hand-selected just twelve out of a group of many. We don’t have time to spend with every single person!
- Did personal healings (vs. 30) – took His time to heal Peter’s mother-in-law.
- Ate and rested at a house while the healed woman served them (vs. 31).
- Healed many, many, many – busy, busy, busy! (vs. 32-34). The whole city came out to Him!
- Rose early in the morning (apparently He slept, vs. 35) – sleeping is a good, godly thing that even the SON OF GOD did!
- Prayed (vs. 35) – again, the Son of God made time for this early in the morning after an exhausting day!
- Prioritized – left Capernaum even though there were more people to do good for there (vs. 38). In other words, He did not do all the good, all the healings, all the demon-destroying He could have done in one place.
What do we learn from all this for our time management?
- We can’t do everything – even Jesus selected just twelve and healed many but not all.
- Time with God is CRUCIAL.
- Don’t feel bad about eating, resting, and sleeping – if you don’t, you won’t have any ability to do good for others.
- But DO GOOD for all those God places in your path – and this will mean you WILL be busy! Just make sure it’s busy with doing good for others, not for yourself.
Guilt Calendars vs. Grace Calendars
But if we’re careful, now we feel under more compulsion to get busy, busy, busy and then watch ourselves fall short, waste time, not be able to do all we should, and then feel guilty about it.
Here’s the good news – nobody ever gets all their to-do list done except God (as Tim Challies wrote in his helpful book, Do More Better). And what’s more, you are a sinner. And will be until the new kingdom! Which means you will never have a day of perfect time-management. You will always fail.
But guess what? There is One who was the perfect time-manager. Christ never wasted time. He did the exact amount of good deeds as was required in the Law and by His Father. He did not neglect a single thing He should have done. He did not waste a single moment.
He kept the Law perfectly – what you could never do! And then He died for all our sins, including all our sinful time-wasting or good-neglecting in our schedules! He paid for your sinful calendar, today and all days!
And what’s more, for those who accept Him, He promises to transform them and give them His Spirit to motivate them to be better at managing time for His glory. He is remaking us into good time-managers, day after day.
That’s good news for guilt-ridden goobers like you and me who feel guilty every day for what we did or didn’t do.
Christ lived a perfect life with a perfect schedule. He died for our imperfect schedules. And He is remaking us into people with God-glorifying schedules.
Rest in that, believer.