It takes discipline
and effort to live the ultimate life that God wants
us to live. Our lives are really just a series of continuous
moments that creates the overall experience we call
life. We all have a set number of moments that have
been given to us by God. When we run out of moments
here on earth, our life is ended and we move into eternity.
Now this is the important part--what we do on earth
determines our eternity. So it is extremely important
that we guard our time and use it wisely according to
what God wants us to do each day. The Bible puts it
Don't waste your time on
useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of
darkness. Expose these things for the sham they
are. It's a scandal when people waste their lives
on things they must do in the darkness where no one
will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how
attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake
up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ
will show you the light! So watch your step. Use
your head. Make the most of every chance you get.
These are desperate times! (The Message)
Another version says
it like this...
Look carefully then how you walk!
Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as
the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent
people), Making the very most of the time [buying up
each opportunity], because the days are evil. (Amplified
Clearly, time is a valuable
resource. We need time to accomplish every goal and every
dream in our hearts. How sad it would be to do everything
that everyone else wants us to do (the boss, the spouse, the
kids, the volunteer group, the pastor) and never make time
to do what God has asked of us.
Unfortunately, many people
live their lives this way and end up feeling angry and guilty.
Angry because they know they are allowing other people to
control their time and guilty because they know they are not
living up to their potential. It's not that we shouldn't spend
time helping others, but there is a balance. Let's look at
a parable Jesus told about the kingdom of God that illustrates
this point further...
25: 1-14 (The Story of the Virgins)
- "God's kingdom
is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out
to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were
smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The
smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn't show up when they expected him, and
they all fell asleep. "In the middle of the night someone
yelled out, 'He's here! The bridegroom's here! Go out and
- "The ten virgins
got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said
to the smart ones, 'Our lamps are going out; lend us
some of your oil.'
- "They answered,
'There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.'
- "They did, but
while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived.
When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the
wedding feast, the door was locked.
- "Much later,
the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked
on the door, saying, 'Master, we're here. Let us in.'
- "He answered,
'Do I know you? I don't think I know you.'
- "So stay alert.
You have no idea when he might arrive.
and scholars have different views about the meaning of this
parable regarding the return of Jesus, there are some general
principles we can take from the text as it relates to how
we use our resources.
In the parable all of
the virgins were looking forward to the return of the bridegroom.
As Christians we are all looking forward to the return of
Christ. The difference in the two groups was how they handled
their responsibilities (lamps=vision) and their resources
(oil=time/energy). When the virgins who were unprepared
(they did not have enough oil for their lamps) at the bridegroom's
arrival asked the prepared virgins for their oil, their answer
was "No!" This answer is surprising because we are
taught that we should help one another, and we should; but,
not at the expense of neglecting our own responsibilities
In other words, as Christians
we all are given responsibilities that we are supposed to
fulfill and it takes time and energy to complete them. If
we give away all of our time and energy to help others with
their vision, we may not have enough left to do what God called
us to do. That's why the five wise virgins said no. It's not
that they weren't concerned about the other virgins; they
were just more concerned about handling their vision (lamp)
Sometimes as wise
virgins (people consecrated for a purpose), we must say no
to protect the call of God on our lives. This doesn't
mean we should not use tact and sensitivity when others make
requests we cannot meet. The wise virgins just didn't say
"No!" and leave it at that. They said no, but also
offered advice on how the problem could be solved. If we
have to turn down requests for assistance we can still be
kind by referring people to other sources of help.
It can be heart wrenching
when you are trying to figure out how to best use your time--especially,
if you are the type of person who wants to help everyone.
Imagine those ten virgins must have all been friends. It probably
wasn't easy saying no.
That's why seeking the
Lord is the first step in determining our priorities. He knows
exactly what we are supposed to be doing and when we should
do it. What's important for one person to do may be busy work
or a waste of time for another. Our priorities should be based
on the will of God for our lives, not someone else's.
Also, keep in mind
that there will be seasons of service in our lives. In
some seasons, we may be called to put our dream on the back
burner while we whole-heartedly sow seeds of service into
a person or organization to help them fulfill theirs. In another
season God may call us to dedicate most of our time and energy
into developing a business or ministry or raising our family,
while only sowing financial seeds or doing minimal volunteer
work to help others. Our priorities will change depending
on the season we're in.
Spending time in prayer
and yielding ourselves to the leadership of the Holy Spirit
is the key to having peace about how we use our time. Learn
not to make promises too quickly. Some tips for handling
requests are as follows:
- Think about each request
and consider your priorities and schedule before making
- Don't give an immediate
response. Ask for time to consider the request.
- Respond based on what
would please God, not merely on what the other person wants
- Realize that your
self worth is not based on what you do for others it is
based on who you are in Christ.
After we have identified
our priorities according to the will of God, we will know
when to say "No" and more importantly when to say
Take the Attitude
Tune-Up - Ask yourself the following questions and write
down your responses. Journaling/writing is a great way to
get to the bottom of your true feelings and document your
- Pray and ask God
to tell you what things should be priorities in your life.
top two or three down.
- Now, generally
determine how much time you are dedicating to those priorities.
Tip: Successful pastor, author and speaker John Maxwell
recommends that we should spend 80% of our time towards
our strengths (priorities) and only 20% towards our weaknesses
- Adjust your schedule
based on your priorities. Tip:
Spending time with God, spending time with your family,
spending time to take care of yourself physically, mentally,
emotionally and spiritually, and spending time to pursue
your aspirations should all be on your schedule somewhere.
Once you have written those priorities in, now you know
how much time you have to dedicate to other things--this
makes saying "NO" easier. Remember, if you do
what God tells you to do, then everyone else will be satisfied
too (spouse, boss, pastor, children, friends, etc.)
- Now that you have
aligned your schedule according to your priorities, you
may have also identified some activities you need to phase
out of your life. If you have made commitments that
are not in line with your priorities you will have to gradually
work your way out of them. Set a time on your schedule where
you will speak with the parties involved to let them know
that you cannot keep the original commitment. Determine
what you can do and communicate that clearly. If you need
to quit altogether, give enough notice so that they can
find someone else to handle the tasks that were assigned