Time management is a booming business—everyone wants to get more done and control time wasters. But for Christians the need to manage time is even more urgent.
Time management experts and philosophers are fond of reminding us that our time is our life. Whatever controls our time, controls our life.
Most of us deal with some of these feelings at times:
- “I can’t get everything done!”
- “I am a slave to the clock—I can’t even take a breather!”
- “I am busy all the time, but I never feel like I’m getting the important things done!”
- “With so many pressing priorities, it can be hard to know what to do next.”
- “When I take a day off, time just seems to slip away and I feel like it was a wasted day.”
We face different time challenges, but generally we have the same desire: To make the best use of our time to accomplish the things we feel are truly important. We want to make good decisions in order to be truly successful.
The thing that makes Christian time management different is the source of what we consider important. That source is God. So a good starting place is to consider how God looks at time and what He wants us to learn from time management.
God and time
God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15). Since He created time, the mind-boggling truth is that He was around forever before time even existed!
To try to help us get a little of God’s perspective, the Bible says, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). God is unrestricted by time.
But though God is not controlled by time the way we humans are, He still puts great emphasis on it. He is always punctual—He always acts at the right time (even though to us humans it may seem like we have to wait a long time). He also has set aside certain times that He has blessed—for our benefit. These are designed to teach us important lessons and to reveal His plan to us.
God tells us the Sabbath and His seven annual festivals are set apart and are His feasts (Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 23:2-4; for more about these meaningful holy times, download our free booklets The Sabbath: A Neglected Gift From God and From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You).
God created time as a tool. We were put in this universe of time to learn many lessons and to develop the character of God. Christian time management means learning to use time as God wants us to use it.
Christian time management tips
To become more like God, we need to learn to have His priorities. We need to learn to use those priorities to produce a plan for improving our lives and aligning them to God’s plan. And we need to put those plans into action. God’s priorities and plans always produce results, and so can ours.
Time management tip #1: Priorities
God reveals to us what is truly most important in life. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
To become more like God, we need to learn to have His priorities. We need to learn to use those priorities to produce a plan for improving our lives and aligning them to God’s plan. And we need to put those plans into action. God’s priorities and plans always produce results, and so can ours.The Kingdom of God is the perfect government of God that will bring peace and plenty to this earth when Jesus Christ returns. We must be preparing for that time now.
Seeking God’s righteousness means striving to live the right way—obeying God’s beneficial laws that are based on God’s love. (Study more about these priorities in our article “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.”)
The end of Matthew 6:33 reveals an amazing thing about God’s priorities. If we put what God says is important first, the other things we need and want will be added to us as well!
But if we put money and things as equal to or higher priority than God’s Kingdom, in the long run we will have neither.
We can’t take charge of our time without clearly defining our priorities. We must schedule what matters most first, or it will be pushed out by the hundreds of urgent and persistent things that come at us each week.
“To master time management is to set priorities among your goals. There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do what is important,” says leadership expert Lolly Daskal (“Master Time Management From Inside Out”).
Our priorities become more real when we write them down as goals and rank them in order of importance. But goals can be just so much “someday I’ll” thinking unless we take the next step. We need a plan to get from “Someday Isle” to success.
Time management tip #2: Planning
The Bible reveals a God who is a Planner. And He wants us to be planners too. We need long-range plans, annual plans and daily plans—and probably several plans in between.
Why plan? Lolly Daskal explains that planning our time “is not about filling every moment with busy work, but rather organizing our time around what is important. … Planning for how to spend your time enables you to work far more efficiently than figuring it out as you go. What is planned happens, because planning leads to action.”
Daily schedule planning
Let’s look at planning at its most immediate level. Based on God’s priorities, what does He want us to put into our schedule for each day?
- Plan time for God. This includes time for praying to God (study Psalm 55:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and our article “How to Pray”). He also wants us to study His Bible daily, as the Bereans did (see Acts 17:11 and our article “How to Study the Bible”).
- Plan time for family and friends. Relationships take a commitment of time together. For example, God commands parents to spend time teaching their children (Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:7).
- Plan time for work. The Fourth Commandment tells us that work should take place during the first six days of the week so that we will be ready to obey the command to not work on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11).
- Plan time for health: eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep and exercise.
- Plan time for household chores and maintenance. (Don’t be like the guy in Proverbs 24:30-34!)
- Plan time for learning. The Bible extols the importance of continued lifelong learning: “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5).
- Plan time for rest and recreation. Jesus took His disciples away from the crowds at times to try to reduce the stress and be rejuvenated (Mark 6:31).
Considering these priorities can help us adjust our daily routine. Things that we do daily at certain times can become habits, and thus easier to do consistently. Having these top priorities recorded in our daily schedule will make our weekly and daily planning easier.
Then specific things that need to be done can be plugged into our calendar for specific days. Many people find it helpful to plan out the week ahead. Then the next week they can assess anything that still needs to be done, and reschedule those things for the week ahead.
Whether you use a physical calendar and daily schedule template, or an online calendar program, it’s important to prioritize the most important as well as the most urgent things. Many people find they cannot get everything they need and want to do done in a day, but planning by priority can help us feel satisfied that we are doing things in the right order.
The best priorities and plans in the world, though, are worthless if they aren’t put into practice.
Time management tip #3: Perform with urgency and diligence
To implement our planned schedule requires constant motivation, focus and persistence. To choose the truly important, we must wisely act, not just react to the urgent things that come at us.
God gives us a number of reminders and prods to help us see the urgency of practicing our priorities and plans.
He tells us to count our days—to recognize how short life is and how precious every day is. That should lead us to make full use of our time. The apostle Paul encouraged us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
God wants us to recognize that every minute counts and should be used in a godly way. God is diligent, and He wants us to learn diligence (see “Diligence: Why Does God Prize It?”) and avoid laziness (Proverbs 12:24, 27; 13:4).
He even wants us to use our leisure time wisely. (For more specific ideas on avoiding pitfalls and properly using leisure time, see our article “What Do You Do With All Your Time?”)
What does the Bible say about time wasting?
God is not against recreation, relaxation and pleasurable activities at the right time and in the right balance. But He warns against the dangers of letting these things crowd out the top priorities. Here are some passages about letting the pursuit of pleasure and ease control our lives:
- “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich” (Proverbs 21:17).
- “He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!” (Proverbs 28:19).
- “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich” (Proverbs 13:4).
- “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4).
- “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure’; but surely, this also was vanity” (Ecclesiastes 2:1).
Time management tip #4: Act now!
Don’t just read this article, perhaps agree with parts of it, and then do nothing! Begin planning time in your schedule this week to examine your priorities and to begin to make a plan to align your time management with God’s priorities.
A good place to start is to learn more about the most important priority. Read “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God” today.
More Bible verses on time management
For an additional Bible study on time, read and think about how to apply these passages:
- “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
- “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted . . .
- “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 11; see also the verses in between).
- “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
- “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
- “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5).
- “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).
- “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear” (1 Peter 1:17; see also 4:1-3).
You may also be interested in these related articles: