We are in a work-driven society, and today young adults, and everyone in America, are highly valuing a new quality—time management. How do we balance work and time for best friend Steve? How do we study (adequately) for exams and still get a workout in at the gym?
And how, as Christians, do we make time to pray, read the Bible and get involved in our church?
Pastor Shane Reichart, 27, is confident he puts in well more than 40 hours a week. He is the associate pastor at Salisbury Church, a church near the campus of Eastern Illinois University, and this week he has been enjoying a rare vacation. On the phone, his voice sounds surprisingly calm and well-rested, not rushed or strained as it sometimes sounds. It is obvious that Reichart is enjoying his break.
“I was able to play guitar for the first time in weeks,” Reichart says. “It was only 15 minutes. I played through three songs, but I’m going to play more later.”
Since becoming associate pastor about a year ago, his typical workday has always started with a half-hour Bible study, then a shower and out the door to be at church by 10. “That’s when I have to read my Bible," Reichart says. "If I don’t do it then, there’s a good chance it won’t happen."
At work he sifts through and replies to an abundance emails, attends several meetings, and takes care of any technological, emotional or spiritual issues he can fit in. But Reichart’s ultimate objective is being the hands and feet of God, a job without a time card to punch since the job never ends.
For many of us, our free time isn’t free—it costs a lot. We all have so much to do that we often end up feeling tired, anxious and unaccomplished. But can we look to the Bible for an answer? Ecclesiastes Ch. 3 states that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal" (TNIV). But some may argue that washing dishes, walking the dog or writing the physics paper were left off that list.
Jen Veech, a junior psychology major at Eastern Illinois University, is learning how to juggle all this. She’s taking five classes and working part-time at Starbucks, and she spends at least three nights a week at the student worship center where. Veech is so busy she looks for any opportunity to spend time with God—even on a walk to class. “If there is anything He is calling me to do, that is a period of time I get to focus on what He wants.”
This time is our ultimate time management guide, showing us what God’s will is and leading us to follow.
And even when we are being paid for our time, we still may be making a poor choice. Since 40 percent of our culture works 50 or more hours a week, that equals out to less time between spouses, and their time may be less valuable if either person is stressed and has taken their work home with them. According to a newsletter issued by Patricia Katz in 2006, the number of individuals citing excessive hours at work on the part of a spouse has recently tripled, and divorcees are often citing a lack of communication and lack of attention for their separation.
Many people may think all the hard work will pay off once they reach that cushy management position – life will calm down and they can spend time with their family – but a study produced by the Harvard Business Review in 2006 reported that 45 percent of high-earning managers are too tired to converse with their spouse or partner after a long day at the office. This doesn’t appear to be something worth striving for.
Life is short and our time here on earth is precious. Psalms Chapter 90 reads: “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away. Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT). Most everyone may be able to agree that life is brief, but according to this verse Christians need to have an even clearer perspective and grasp on this. There is also a famous saying: “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” As Christians, we need to take even one big step further and realize that an eternity from now we’ll wish we started today.
“I am focusing on becoming more apathetic about the temporal and more ambitious about the eternal, less concerned with the material things, more with the spiritual,” Reichart says. God wants us to be wise with our time. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-17).
The solution lies in prayer, meditation and time spent with our Creator. That’s why Reichart starts every day with God. “If you come to God first thing in the morning, it helps you come to God in every task throughout the day, especially when faced with decisions.”