To be effective in ministry, you must manage your time well. Whether you're a full-time or bivocational pastor, it can sometimes feel like the time you put into ministry gets crowded out by everything else.
The problem with your time isn't the clock. It's not your schedule. It's how you use the time you have. To get mad at the clock or your schedule is like getting mad at the scales in your bathroom. It's not the scale's fault that you don't like the way it reads. Time is simply a measurement. You must learn how to manage it better.
Throughout the last five decades in ministry, I've lived out three truths Paul shares in Ephesians 5:15-17. Each truth has helped me use my time better so I can do what God has created me to do.
You'll have the time to do everything God has called you to do if you'll put these principles into practice:
1. Evaluate your lifestyle. "So be careful how you live. Don't live like ignorant people, but like wise people" (Eph. 5:15, GNT). Take a close look at your schedule, and be aware of time-robbers. You shouldn't need to wonder where your time is going. You have the same amount of time as anyone else. It's how you use it that matters.
Proverbs 14:12 (NCV) tells us: "Some people think they are doing right, but in the end it leads to death." That's true in time management. Even though we might believe what we're doing is right, it can still be a big waste of time.
Too many people are ignorant and apathetic when it comes to how they spend time.
Pastor, don't let that be you.
I recommend creating a time log. Keep a record of what you do, hour-by-hour, over the next seven days. This step alone will help you spend your time better.
2. Use the present. "Make good use of every opportunity you have" (Eph. 5:16, GNT). The best time to your time is now—not tomorrow or next week.
How do you take advantage of the opportunities you see today?
—Don't procrastinate. Most of the opportunities we're given should have "for a limited time only" written on them. If you don't capitalize on them, you've lost them.
—Eliminate time wasters. Paul reminds us: "'We are allowed to do anything,' so they say. That is true, but not everything is good" (1 Cor. 10:23a). Many of the activities that fill our lives aren't wrong, but they aren't necessary either. To make time for what God is calling you to do, you need to get rid of those time wasters.
3. Prioritize what's important. "Don't be fools, then, but try to find out what the Lord wants you to do" (Eph. 5:17). The secret to time management is doing what God wants you to do. If you find yourself with not enough time, it means one of the following things:
—You're not doing what God intended for you to do.
—You're doing the right thing in the wrong way.
—You're doing something God never intended for you to do.
You have just enough time to do God's will. God would not have a will for your life, and then not give you the time to do it.
Ask yourself, "What am I doing that doesn't need to be done?" Once you've eliminated what doesn't need to be done, you can prioritize what God wants you to do.
The reality is, time is running out for all of us. We only have so much time on this side of eternity. Now is the time to use your time well.
You have 168 hours this week. How will you use them?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times' bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.
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