Monday, February 28, 2011

The Busy Christian... Chapter 3

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness
Chapter 3: Use your time efficently

Chester suggests 4 key steps to addressing busyness:
  1. Use your time efficiently
  2. Sort out your priorities
  3. Glorify God all the time
  4. Identify the desires of your heart that make you try to do more than God expects of you.

We are going to look at #1 today, #2 and #3 in the next two weeks and then we’ll take 7 posts to look at #4 – which mirror his chapters. This is what I think is the real strength of this book. Chester talks about some practical strategies that may help, but in the end what we need to address is our hearts, what we think is important and what God actually counts as important.

So read the practical stuff with me over the next few posts, then be ready to be challenged in following weeks about what it is you really value and how that has impacted your busyness.

This week: use your time efficiently

A lot of this chapter is obvious stuff, if you are already reasonably organised, it won’t be anything new. If you struggle with time management – you also will know all about it, just perhaps struggle to implement it.

Basic tips here include: planning your time, using your diary wisely, managing people well, deal with paperwork and emails once only and tips for organising around your home.

One thing I found helpful in this section was to only read journals, magazines and newsgroups that actually provide you with information you need. To this I would add blogs and Facebook groups. Towards the end of last year I realised quite how much online information I was reading that added no value to my day in any way. I unsubscribed to quite a lot of things and it’s been remarkably freeing! (I also remove anyone from my Facebook feed that I have no real relationship with, why read their stuff when I never see them or talk to them?)

He ends the chapter with three helpful warnings, which I think those of us in ministry should especially heed.

1. People not schedules – don’t let your schedule stop you valuing people. You can run an efficient, on-time meeting by elimination all the chat and small talk. But it’s the chat and small talk that keep relationships going. We can also avoid dealing with people by using busyness as our excuse. Many of us in pastoral ministry know only too well of days when a schedule has been thrown out the window due to a personal crisis, as well it should be.

2. Servant not master – we control our schedule, it does not control us.
We can use our schedules to control our lives instead of bring ruled by God. We can trust our time management instead of trusting God’s care. We can turn the good desire for order into an idol. (p46)
3. Eternity not time – the danger of time management is that it focused our attention on the immediate. But the immediate is rarely the most important.
The Bible tells us to number our days, not schedule our minutes. And numbering our days means to live in the light of eternity. (p47).

Chester ends by saying that good time management does have a contribution to make to sorting out busyness. However, it’s the least important step. The second step is that what you do matters more than how much you do. That step is: sort out your priorities, and we come to it in chapter 4 next week.

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