“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
For many of us, feeling like there is not enough time is the most persistent temptation to violate the commandment to not covet. The demands, opportunities, dreams, and needs all around us are so far beyond our time resources, how could we not desire more time? But to be constantly discontented with our time allotment is destructive and demoralizing.
Consider two presuppositions basic to successfully handling the problem of time.
- God has a custom-designed plan for your life. He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, ”‘I know the plans I have for you’—this is the LORD’s declaration—’plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” ( 29:11).
- God has provided all the time resources necessary to carry out His plan. So if the 168 hours each week seem inadequate, either I’ve missed God’s will in doing something He never intended, or I’m doing it inefficiently. David wrote a beautiful passage about this basic presupposition. “All my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.” (Psalm 139:6)
When Jesus said, “My time has not yet arrived” (John 7:6) or “My time has not yet fully come” (John 7:8), we might say in contemporary language, “The time isn’t right” or “It’s not time yet.” The Teacher in Ecclesiastes 3:1 referred to this principle. “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.”
This poetic passage closes with a wonderful word: “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11, NKJV). God has planned everything, and when it comes according to God’s plan, it’s indeed beautiful. But a problem is presented: “Also He has put eternity in their hearts” (v. 11, NKJV). This is the core of the problem. It’s a beautiful thing to fulfill God’s purpose moment by moment, day by day. But we have eternity in our hearts. We want to do so much more— an infinity of things.
What are some things you want to do that you don’t seem to have time for? Rate your general level of anxiety about not having enough time in your life.
We were created for eternity, so our aspirations drive us to take on more. Too often we get caught up in a whirlwind of frenetic activity that causes us more stress than satisfaction. Yet Jesus taught us not to be anxious even about tomorrow. To paraphrase Jesus, which of us, by frenetic endeavor, by worry and concern, can add 1 hour to the 168 we’ve been allotted this week (see Matt. 6:27)?
What’s the solution? These practical steps may help.
- Set priorities.To set priorities, you first have to figure out how you are currently spending your time. On a sheet of paper, list in order of priority what you are currently doing in a typical week.
- Examine for inefficiencies.Examine your time log to determine whether you could manage your time more efficiently. For example, could you combine responsibilities into a single activity? Don’t think eliminate. Think evaluate and prioritize. In examining our priority list for inefficiencies, we need to be brutally honest.
- Start at the bottom and cut. This may be the time to learn to say no to others (in a gracious way) and to your own wants (graciousness not necessary) to make room for your yes to God.
If your list of activities still overruns your time allotment, you must get serious about your prioritizing. Start at the bottom of your log, negotiable or optional items, and start eliminating activities until the remainder fit in 168 hours. This may be painful, and it certainly should be done prayerfully. But if we fail to make the hard decisions, we condemn ourselves to coveting the time God doesn’t give. And that is a very destructive way to live.