• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Finding the “time”

It’s pretty easy to say that we need to take more time to think and reflect.  The struggle, however, is to find the “time” in our rather hectic schedules. If it’s more about “giving time” than the “amount of time”, then we are really asking the question of priorities. 

One author diagrammed our “time” priority situation as the following:

  Urgent Not Urgent
Important I

Activities:

Crises

Pressing problems

Deadline-driven projects

II

Activities:

Relationship building

Recognizing  new opportunities

Planning

Not Important III

Activities:

Interruptions, some calls

Some e-mail, some meetings

Pressing matters

IV

Activities:

Trivia, busy work

Some e-mail, some calls

Time wasters

 

Two key factors that drive our time priorities are “urgent” and “important”. Something that is urgent requires attention now.  Something that is important contributes to our mission, our values, our objectives.  Most people (myself included) do not work in quadrant II thinking, and yet it is by taking time to engage in quadrant II thinking that we actually reflect more deeply about questions/issues that we know we should take time to consider (important).  Yet, we don’t because those questions/issues do not appear to need immediate attention (urgent).

The question we might want to ask is: “What one thing could I do in my personal and ministry life that, if I did it on a regular basis, would make a significant difference in my life and ministry?”  This reflection question is not “urgent”, but it is “important”, and would ultimately impact who I am and what I do.  We just need to figure out how to “give time” to this kind of thinking.

6 Responses

  1. All my life I have been undisciplined in time management; so , I am a very poor model in this area. As I look back, I regret all the lost opportunities due to the lack of discipline.We are the most productive in our work when we are careful to take counsel of the Lord by prayer and reflection on His Word.

    I wasted so must time in all four quadrants even number II by being “too busy” to seek God’s counsel.

    Luther testified that when he had the heaviest load of work and responsibilities he needed to spend more time in prayer. Also remember in Mark’s Gospel when the disciples were rowing all night making no headway they looked to Jesus and were immediately at their destination. We would get more done that is important if we looked more to the Lord. We would be led by Him to prioritize our work with greater wisdom and insight.

    I regret that far to often I allowed the urgency of the moment to crowd out taking counsel of the Lord.

    Ed Walker, retired World Team missonary

    • Your honest sharing is such an encouragement to us! May we take your exhortation to heart and ask ourselves what we need to stop doing in order to give time to that quadrant of reflective thinking.

  2. Dear David

    I trust that most of the folks who (like me) avidly follow your blog will take the time to ask themselves one very important question as they begin to re-order their priorities. That questions is simply, “what am I going to stop doing (or do very differently) to free up the time to do what is most important and significant to me?

    One of my most significant mentors told us there are four questions every leader has to answer constantly:

    1. What (am I trying to do)

    2. What next (only the leader can answer this)

    3. What else (opportunities and problems resulting from what I am doing) and

    4. What NOT (I’ve spent 168 hours this week, to add something to my schedule next week, something else has to go!)

    • You hit the proverbial “nail on the head” with your question as to what we need to stop doing in order to give more time to that reflective quadrant. What are some ways that the community can help us “answer” this question and ensure follow through?

  3. I wonder how someone would respond to this blog who came from a society which did not set such a high value on time.

    Sometimes I jot down some priorities on a notepad by my computer, and check these off as the day goes by. However, sometimes there are other “unexpected” priorities intrude on my planned activities.

    I remember one of our profs at Bible College telling me that whenever someone interrupted his preparations with a knock on the door, he’d take a moment to ask God to turn the interruption into an opportunity. Here was a scholarly man who received an interruption not in terms of time but in terms of relationship.

    Despite my second cultural upbringing among the Yali, I am still a time-oriented person; but periodically when I come to the end of a day and see all the unfinished tasks, I remind myself to think about how I invested the day in people and not activities.

    May God give us grace to balance task and relationships. And may he keep us from idolozing one over the other.

    • Exactly John, that’s why I put “time” in quotation marks. I wasn’t trying to talk about time management, as it is normally understood, but how do we let “time” in general be forced into certain constraints or frameworks. I, like you, have been encouraged to see interruptions as part of God’s plan for my time whereas in my Western mindset I would see it as nothing more than just an interruption. Balancing task and relationships is not easy, and we often find ourselves falling to one side or the other. Finding “time” means that I have to shut off the external noise of the computer, e-mail and so forth so that I can take the “time” to delve into a book or reflect on certain issues that I just haven’t had the time to think about. Thanks for helping us balance our “time”!

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