THE SANDS OF TIME
by Bill Scheidler
One of the greatest hindrances of people in full-time ministry is
the unwise use of time. The improper use of time is a liability
to anyone. Someone once said, "Unless he manages himself
effectively, no amount of ability, skill, experience, or
knowledge will make an executive effective." If a leader doesn't
manage himself, he can never successfully manage, direct, and
mobilize other people.
The man of God can speak on organization and time management, but
if he isn't living it, people will begin to see through it.
People won't receive much direction from the pastor in things
that aren't life to him. Another man said, "Whatever failures I
have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatever follies I
have witnessed in private and public life, have been the
consequence of action without thought." No planning, no
preparation, not really considering where we're headed is how we
make some of our biggest mistakes. Certainly, good time
management results in part from good stewardship.
Time management is also a matter of excellence. Webster defines
"excel" as: to go above or beyond; to outdo; to surpass. We
should always strive to outdo ourselves in every area relating to
the Kingdom of God - in fact, this is the "lifestyle" of the
Kingdom. The Greek word for "excel" is often translated in the
King James as "abound." God enables us to go above and beyond -
to surpass the fixed measure - by giving us abounding grace.
Christians ought to be the most productive people on earth.
People of the world ought to be astounded by what a man can
accomplish who is wholly given over to the Lord. I Corinthians
15:58 tells us:
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmove-
able, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as
ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Whatever limitations we or others have placed on what can be
accomplished can be overcome - the Lord calls us to abound in the
work. We must believe God will help us to do this. Though we may
already be doing much, there's always room for improvement.
"Organize" means to bring together or form as a pool or
combination as for a common objective. Organizing our time is to
systematically arrange all the fragments of our time into a pool
that can be applied to a wise purpose. For the spiritual leader,
this means knowing and following the purposes of God.
When we despair of how chaotic our own schedules can be, and how
weak we are as stewards of our time, we must call for God's help.
None of us can go beyond mediocrity alone. We should always
remember that God never calls us to do something that He hasn't
done Himself. When he calls us to be people of faith, He
demonstrates to us what it means to live by faith. Hebrews 11,
the faith chapter of the whole Bible, doesn't begin with the
example of the faith of any man, but with God's faith:
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the
word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of
things which do appear (Heb.11:3).
Faith is God's mode of operation. How He brought it to bear in
framing the worlds will speak to us concerning our time. God is a
God of order and arrangement who delights in bringing
organization out of chaos. When the earth was "...without form,
and void" (Gen.1:2), God moved upon the waters and brought order
and beauty out of it. The chaos and void was a challenge to God
to bring change for the better. Just as God brings organization
to His creation, He wants to bring order to His new creation -
His redeemed people. God wants order in the Body of Christ, and
in each of its individuals. In his letter to the Colossians
(chapter 2, verse 5) Paul writes encouragingly:
For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in
the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the
stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
In I Corinthians 12, Paul teaches the importance of organization
in the Church. God has a perfect arrangement and orderliness that
accomplishes His perfect will, and presents to each individual
member a reason and purpose for belonging. I Cor.12:18 states:
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the
body, as it hath pleased him.
God is systematic. Every action He takes prepares for another
action, that leads to another action, etc. The order of creation
shows the step by step order of God: light came first, then
atmosphere, and then the separation of water and firmament,
followed by the marking of time and seasons. Only after there was
an inhabitable earth, did God create the various forms of life
upon the earth. Before Jesus' ascension in Acts, He gave the
disciples a systematic plan of evangelism. They were to "...be
witnesses unto [Christ] both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and
in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The first mission project was to evangelize their home city, then
to reach out to their area of Palestine, then to all of
Palestine, and finally to the whole world.
When man was made in God's image, it is reasonable to consider
that God made him to be systematic also. God gave Adam a work to
do in the Garden of Eden. (We realize here, by the way, that work
was before the fall of man, and not because of his fall.) Adam
had to dress and keep the paradise he was in - to maintain the
order God had placed there. We remember, too, that Adam was given
charge of naming the animals. Rather than having to refer to each
animal only by physical description, Adam was able to save time
by imposing an order of classification and reference upon them.
Rather than describing the tall, long-necked, slender
knobbykneed, yellow spotted animal with the tiny tail, Adam could
just say "giraffe." The simplification of using these references
helps to avoid being misunderstood even today.
Even as God called Adam to systematic organization, God has
called us to a specific work and responsibility. We are, in a
sense, accountable to God to subdue the small part of the earth
we're in. We'll never do this effectively without good
A Matter of Stewardship
To be organized is wonderful, but to stay organized is something
else. It requires wise management. Pastor John Jimenez has
suggested that the most powerful people in the world aren't those
in high political offices, but are God's ordained ministers.
They're the ones who will have the most direct opportunity to
influence what's taking place around the world because they're
directly linked to the people, and have the most powerful message
on earth. For this reason, spiritual leaders must be
conscientious stewards in all things. If anyone needs to make
wise use of their time, it is those who've been set in spiritual
authority to lead the church.
When stewardship is mentioned, many people often think only of
tithes and offerings, or of good money management. Although these
are important, it is much more. Good Christian stewardship is the
systematic and proportionate application of time, abilities, and
material possessions, based on the conviction that these are a
trust from God to be used in His service for the benefit of His
Kingdom. It is a divine partnership with God - a way of living
that recognizes God's ownership of one's person, one's powers,
one's possessions, and the faithful use of these for the
advancement of Christ's Kingdom in this world. We are the very
stewards of the manifold grace of Gad. Man is responsible to God
for becoming what God has made it possible for us to become. We
increase in our ability, stability, and responsibility when we
increase in our sense of accountability unto the Lord. When we
realize we must give account of our time to the Lord, we usually
find time we didn't even know we had.
Church leaders often don't have anyone to report to concerning
their use of time. This is something that businessmen would
rarely get away with. But in the church, we often think that God
is easier and less concerned with our daily activities. Jesus
taught that God calls for an exact account in the parable of the
talents. Those found in possession of the original investment
entrusted to them by the Lord without any increase will lose what
they have. We must all use or lose what God gives. It helps
tremendously to become accountable to a Christian brother who
demonstrates a desire to excel and has a strong discipline of
stewardship. Not only can they ask us important questions about
our time, they can also pray with us, help us plan and structure
our time, and encourage us through difficult times.
God wants every one of us to increase our capacity to get the job
done. Often the greatest limitation we have to accomplishing more
is our own small thinking. Such was my experience in graduating
from high school to college. I attended a private Christian high
school with high academic standards. In my senior year, I was so
busy with academics and extra school-related activities that I
thought I couldn't possibly do any more. That was my thinking.
However, I was in for a radical shock. On my fist day as a
freshman in college, I was handed enough work to nearly equal all
the homework I had accomplished in a full year in high school.
That first night after classes I was completely overwhelmed.
Looking at the mountain of assignments on my desk, I despaired of
completing any of them. I sat up reading and re-reading the
assignments for each class. It looked utterly impossible. Yet,
after I overcame the initial shock, I buckled down and went to
work. In college, I learned to do incredibly more than I'd ever
thought possible in high school.
(Well, maybe, you can do what at first seems impossible, but on
the other hand our education systems are sometimes off the wall,
crazy, and silly. Today we get more children at age 10 and under
with one to one and a half hours homework each night. Then you
take those who are home-schooled and they do it all in 3 to 4
hours a day, and so "have a life" as the saying goes. So
"organization" can be over-done, the balance is the key, everyone
needs a life that is not totally organized to every last minute
of the day - Keith Hunt)
Then I went on to seminary! If I'd thought college was hard to
organize and complete, seminary was worse yet. They'd give me an
entire book to read and evaluate for my class assignment. No
lecture - no discussion - no explanation just an over-sized
theological textbook I thought no human could accomplish in the
allotted time. But I did!
(Again, maybe you can do it, but all this really proves little,
the end result for most in Theological school is they still do
not know the real truths of the real word of God, they are
reading [getting assigned] other people's words. The Bible should
come first, and then studies with Strong's Concordance and works
like Nave's Topical Bible. Then books by other people - Keith
It seems that every year of my life since then has been like
that. There's always more and more to be done and always the same
amount of time to do it in. So to keep up, I organize and
maximize my time.
(Yes, part good, part bad. Today the number of ministers who give
up the ministry in the popular mass Christianity is THOUSANDS
each year. Part of organizing all that is connected with full-
time ministry is having others alongside you to help with the
load, so you can still "have a life" outside the ministry - Keith
In maximizing our time, we may not need to work harder. If we're
lazy, our work habits need to improve. But working harder doesn't
necessarily mean we're being more productive. For instance, we
can harvest a field of grain with a scythe, a rake, some string
to tie the bundles, and pure muscle and back strain. However, we
know now of a more effective and efficient method by using
equipment. We aren't working nearly as hard using machinery, and
it takes a lot less time. Productivity rises sharply. In the same
way, avoiding the pitfalls of poor planning and wasting time by
over-working is one important point of effective stewardship and
skilled organization. We must also be mindful to get rest and
relaxation, and to enjoy life, beyond the demands of our church
and work schedules.
(Ah, the author has come to some very good and sound
understanding of "balance" and "balance" and more "balance" -
1. Recognize your need.
Matthew 5:3 says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit [those who know
they have a need], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We must
recognize we have a need before we're going to take the steps in
Some of the symptoms of a time and organizational problem are:
unfinished projects; unfulfilled goals; lack of sense of
direction; constant feeling of being overwhelmed; comparing our
productivity to what others are getting done; a sense of guilt
that you're letting others down.
Many times we use excuses to explain why we have these symptoms.
Though these are just confusing the issue of poor time
organization, here is a list of things that are commonly used:
we're under-staffed; not enough money; people in our local church
are too hard to work with; don't have the gift of administration
from God; we have a poor memory; our family is "out of step" with
us, or is putting too heavy a demand on our time.
2. Evaluate successful people.
One of the best things we can do to handle our own weaknesses is
to look for others in the body of Christ who are doing well. Meet
with them. Find out what they're doing that you aren't, and find
out what they're not doing that you are. Compare and analyze your
weakness against their strength.
3. Maintain a planner.
The kind you maintain isn't as important as just having one. Make
sure it's one that you can keep with you wherever you go. Most of
the appointments you will make will be made when you aren't at
your desk. It is important to remember and keep every
appointment. When we fail to show up or come late to an
appointment, people begin to think we're careless, or that we
"care less." They'll also think we're irresponsible. If we're
irresponsible in our time, we're probably irresponsible in our
spiritual walk. People don't want to pour out their soul to an
4. Carefully schedule appointments.
There are times in your life that should be considered sacredtime
with family and in personal devotions. It's critically important
to protect these times and not carelessly overschedule. It's also
a good idea not to schedule appointments too close together.
Leave at least a half hour between appointments. Don't make
promises you can't keep. Many leaders have never learned to say
no. We should never tackle assignments that we know we can't
fulfil with our abilities.
5. Be punctual.
There is nothing any more important to show others you care and
to redeem the time than being where we should be on time. If
we're planning our time so close that minor events, such as a
couple of red lights are making us late to appointments, then
we're leaving too late.
6. Plan ahead.
Plan as far ahead as you can for upcoming events, and then
maintain a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily appointment
schedule for all the people you need to see and tasks you need to
complete. It's helpful to plan out your week in advance, and to
look at the plan for the next day before you leave the office or
before you go to sleep at night.
7. Plan out how to handle the unexpected.
Unexpected assignments are hard for anyone to deal with. Things
come up that aren't part of our weekly plan, yet still demand
attention. It's usually best to handle these things at the first
available opportunity, since they can really stack up, and
prevent us from being focused on our main responsibilities.
8.. Learn to prioritize.
By God's purposes and values you can determine what's important,
and what's not important at all. Twenty percent of most actual
effort usually reaps eighty percent of the results. Focusing on
the important things will definitely increase how much you
9. Organize your environment.
If minister's wives kept their kitchens like many ministers keep
their offices, few ministers would feel much like eating. Try
shovelling out your office once a week. If you work in neatness,
it will produce neatness. Organization begets organization! If
your environment is cluttered, you won't get nearly as much done.
We can save a lot of time by keeping things put away or filed. If
we don't have to look for everything we need and can go right to
it in our office, we become more productive. We should
incorporate the old adage, "A place for everything, and
everything in its place."
10. Get rest and relaxation.
Plan for leisure time. Everyone needs rest, including devoted men
of faith! Work time into your schedule to get the rest and
relaxation you and your family need. This includes scheduling
mandatory vacation days away from the church, away from Bible
conventions, campmeetings, youth retreats, leaders' and mens'
conferences, and revival meetings! Get away periodically for true
rest. Let the Lord refresh you and renew your vision.
ACTS magazine (1994) - a publication of the General Churches of
God, 7th Day, Meridian, ID, USA.
Jesus chose men to train and be with Him in His ministry, and to
continue after He went back to heaven. Good organization means
good delegation, a good support team. Jesus also took time to put
ministry "things" aside, and get away from it all, to rest, to
talk to the Father, to relax. Yes, we in the ministry need to be
organized, to a point, and that is part of being a good steward
of what God has called us to do, but ministry must be balanced to
not get stressed out or find our human motor breaks down, and we
end up being not much service to anyone, as we try to rebuild our
physical mind and body in some hospital bed.
Entered on this Website January 2008