Are You Making the Best Use of Your Time?

coffee-690421_640READ WITH ME:
Welcome to the first book club meeting. We are reading Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters.  We will be discussing a chapter every other Monday, starting today. If you are joining us for the first time, you can read the introduction to Read With Me: “Shopping for Time” here.

This week in Chapter 1, “Shopping for Time”, the ladies made a brilliant analogy between how we spend our time and shopping. We bargain hunters use the same strategies to find deals that we should be applying to managing our time. They gave us principles from Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.”  Let’s break this down.

1. Look carefully how you walk. I loved their tips on how to walk “circumspectly, accurately, and with extreme care.” We need to look back and assess in order to avoid previous mistakes and press on in areas of progress. Look forward to see where our present choices will lead. Look inward to ascertain our motives. Look around to survey our current fruitfulness. Look beside to incorporate wisdom, correction and help from other believers. Most importantly, look up to seek guidance from God’s Word. Doing this does not allow me to piddle away the hours. Time is ticking, and I often forget to view it as a resource. My days, and minutes are numbered!

2. Make the best use of your time. This idea comes from Scripture. “Making the best” means to redeem or  “buy up, rescue from loss, or improve”. The ideas of “improving” and “rescuing” inspire me. This helps me see how I can imitate characteristics of Jesus in the “mundane” tasks of life. We can approach time the same way we approach bargains. Assess the best time, the best opportunities and go for it. It means proactively saying “yes” to the most important opportunity or task for the moment and a lot of “no.” I have a tendency to run around like a headless chicken. My brain is not an organized machine. I lean towards the “creative” which means I’m easily distracted. While I’m doing the dishes, I  might notice something on the counter that needs to get put away in another room, and while I’m putting that away I see a little pile of laundry that should be in the basket….and then I have bunch of half completed chores all over the house. What I need to do is say “no” to that item on the counter and finish working on the “best” thing at the moment.

Shopping for Time3. What God chooses. It’s easy to forget that ultimately God chooses. I am so privileged to live in a country where my life is not constantly in immediate danger, and I never have to worry where my next meal is going to come from.  When it feels like there is nothing to eat in the house, my pantry always has something that can sustain us, like beans and rice. I usually don’t consider that a meal; yet, some people in the world would be overjoyed to get a small bowl of beans and rice three times a day. We have so much perceived control over our lives that it’s easy to forget God is the one bringing us all that we have or don’t have. He marks the beginning and end of each season.

4. The days are evil. With recent events in our country, we can sense the days getting darker. As Christians, we are entering an age of persecution, like those who have gone before us. It may be tempting to fear the future, especially for my children. Instead, I can be comforted as I remember that no matter how dark my world gets, Christ who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. The Light will always conquer the darkness. This motivates me to make sure I’m intentional about my time, that I’m choosing the best – the best moments, the best opportunities, and the best tasks.

Here are questions from the book to help you get started.
1. Do you plan ahead to maximize your fruitfulness each day, or do you simply let life happen?
2. Do you make choices based on Scripture or on what feels good at the moment?
3. Do you strategize to use your talents to bless your family and church, or do you employ them primarily for your own personal fulfillment?
4. Do you evaluate every opportunity in light of biblical priorities, or do you do whatever it takes to get ahead?
5. Do you consider whom God would have you serve, or do you try to please everyone all the time?

Please comment:
What are your thoughts on time management?

Next Monday: I will do a short check in to see how you are doing in Chapter 1.

If you are just joining us, “Shopping For Time” By Carolyn Mahaney is available at Amazon. Brand new for $11.68 or used “new” for about $6.00 (including shipping). You do not need to purchase the book to read along.

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