How does the typical person determine his or her priorities, and how will those priorities be managed and addressed? This is an important question for leaders. Those who aspire to invest their time wisely and maximize their impact often look to experts on time management to learn the best principles and techniques.
So what exactly is time management?
Time management is the common term for intentionality in how a person spends his or her hours in a day. Time management has been a buzzword in the corporate setting for many years. As a result, some people have made entire careers of teaching time management skills and strategies.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was well known for his time management skills. Eisenhower said, “The more important an item, the less likely it is urgent, and the more urgent an item, the less likely it is important.”
Eisenhower divided tasks into four categories:
- Urgent-Important: items were dealt with immediately
- Urgent-Unimportant: items were delegated
- Not Urgent-Important: items were entered into a calendar
- Not Urgent-Unimportant: items were minimized or eliminated
Critical to effective time management is the need to distinguish the urgent from the important. As usual, Jesus has provided great insight into this area, thousands of years before the time management “experts” were born!
Jesus knew what was truly important and what was urgent. He spent a lot of time teaching his disciples about their important assignment on this earth. Jesus was clear about what was important: knowing and loving God, loving others, serving others, giving to others, and denying self. These priorities are seen over and over again in Jesus’ teachings. Read Matthew 6:31-34; Matthew 22:37; Matthew 16:26; Matthew 20: 25-28; Luke 16:10-12; Luke 6:31, 38; Mark 8:34-35 for further study.
While the important things listed in the above verses are evident, the sense of urgency attached to these things may be more difficult to discern. Urgency often determines our priorities as children of God because we tend to depend on present needs presented to us. However, learning to hear from God regarding what he desires our daily priorities to be, rather than reacting to circumstances alone, is vital to the maturity process that he has called us to. Often God’s priorities are different than our own. Prioritizing according to God’s leading requires self-examination, prayer, and study in his word. These disciplines will cause God’s priorities to become our own priorities.
There may be times when God asks us to respond to a need immediately because it is both urgent and important and other times when God asks us to schedule the important things, like serving regularly at your church or a local community organization, or going on a short-term mission trip.
I pray a sense of urgency will rise within our hearts and minds as we learn to hear his voice about the truly important things in life: the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
- What has influenced your time management habits the most?
- Think of a time when your priorities did not align with God’s. How did God redirect you?