About 20 years ago, shortly after I joined Prison Fellowship International, Ron Nikkel sent me to a time-management class.
It was a two-day seminar on how best to organise and track my time—how to use my time wisely so I could meet my weekly, monthly, yearly, and even lifetime goals. The seminar also included training on how to use a huge day-timer notebook so I could log my daily activities. It made sense at the time. I carried this massive book around everywhere. My wife, Ellie, made fun of me for years.
What I have come to realise over the years in ministry, and transitioning from a big planner book to the calendar app on my small phone, is that organizing and tracking one’s appointment schedule is not the most imperative part of managing your time well. While this is important, of course, of more importance is ensuring that you use your finite time to make sure you are 100 percent aligned with God’s plan for you and your ministry.
Ephesians 5:15–17 (NIV) says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” We are in this world for a very short period of time. When I turned 60 a few years ago, a lot changed for me. Time management became more about intentionally removing busy work and unneeded activities in order to prioritise eternal things, like the special relationships God has given me.
So my encouragement to you is to think about the first step in time management as knowing what God wants you to do next, and how you can be Him to those around me. Are you making the most of every opportunity? As you lead your ministry, remember we each are serving in a war—a spiritual war. And the enemy has planted obstacles and ambushes to divert your time to things that are not strategic. Navigate these traps by being crystal clear about what God is calling you to do next.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV).