Lies People Believe About Managing Their Time

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker says:

“Effective executives do not start with their tasks. They start with their time.

“Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.

“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.”

Time management is one of the most neglected disciplines when it comes to the ministry. Very few classes in seminary teach it; it isn’t modeled well in most internships; and the assumption is you either have the skill or you don’t. However, just like all personal disciplines (prayer, Bible reading, Scripture memorization, meditation, etc.), the discipline of time management must be worked at, pursued, and given full attention by any serious minister of the Gospel.

Those in the ministry are often “busy,” but the question should be “What are you busy doing?” Throughout the Bible, passages teach about the importance of stewardship and the responsibility we have to invest our money and resources appropriately. The same principle and responsibility applies to how we steward our time. However some common excuses have become not only accepted, but embraced, when it comes to why we don’t manage our time well. This keeps some from investing in this discipline to the degree they should.

Lies People Believe about Managing Their Time:

1) It will get easier when…

There is a lie that suggests things will eventually slow down and get easier and better. You tell yourself that the church plant will eventually let up and you will have time to think or the ministry needs will become much less demanding when you can raise up leaders or add new staff. It is best that you accept this important reality: It will never slow down!

Ministry is an area where there will always be more people to reach than we are able to, more church members than we can possibly counsel, more broken marriages than we could ever save, and more hospital visits than we could ever make. What changes over time isn’t the busyness; what changes over time is the weight of what you are busy doing. The question we must deal with is not whether we will be busy, but are we busy doing the right things? If you don’t budget your time to invest in the things that you must do or that only you can do, your entire ministry will be nothing more than a reaction to whatever is most urgent at the time.

2) I’m not wired to be organized/administrative/a good manager of time.

It is true that some people are given the gift of administration, but that doesn’t mean that you can blame your wiring for a lack of attention given to the effective management of your time. There is no excuse for not managing your time well, regardless of your temperament. Responding to people when they call or e-mail or text in a timely manner in not an issue of wiring, it is an issue of integrity. Saying you will do something and not making the time to do it is not an issue of being overwhelmed; it is an issue of sin in your heart.

Matthew 5:37 says, “Let what you say be simply yes or no. Anything more than this comes from evil.”

Time management is not a gifting; it is a discipline to learn and establish. People in ministry are often seen as lazy or undisciplined or “just nice guys” instead of being seen as high producers who are focused and efficient. There are certainly times when you will struggle to juggle everything, but staying on top of how you spend your time allows you the freedom to make adjustments or to delegate to others because you know what you realistically can and cannot get done in your schedule.

3) I can’t get it all done.

This statement is actually true; you can’t get everything done that you want to get done. But you can get everything done that you need to get done if you prioritize and budget your time effectively. When time gets crunched, study and preparation time will usually be the first to get shorted. When your schedule is full, personal devotional time is something easy to pass up and neglect. When you are overcommitted, working out and eating right are easy things to assume you don’t have time for. But nearly all issues of time management have little to do with time and everything to do with priorities. You always have time for what you prioritize. Here is how you know: when you get the last-minute call from the friend who has great tickets to the big game, it’s amazing how quickly your calendar can be cleared. You have time … but you haven’t prioritized where that time will be spent.

4) My situation is unique.

When I was in seminary, I was surrounded by people who were from other countries who came to the United States to attend school and had little to no resources at their disposal. Some had families and some had nothing more than a computer and their faith. And in the midst of the busyness of that season, what often helped me get through it was that, no matter how crazy life seemed, no matter how insane my life felt, there were other people who had crazier lives and more stressful situations than I ever did and somehow they got through it. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Perspective is an easy thing to lose when you are so focused on your problems and your schedule and your to-do list. The more time you spend complaining about your situation, the less time you are actually doing something about your situation. Perspective helps someone realize that their situation may be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. This is especially important when dealing with the precious gift of time. Take some time to learn from others how they manage their time and achieve so much. When you do, you will realize your situation isn’t all that unique.

Dr. Chris Kouba is the North Campus Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church. Follow Chris on Twitter @chriskouba.