It seems like there have always been ways that Satan tries to get believers to waste time on non-profitable activities that will keep them from doing what the Lord wants them to do. When I read this verse, I know that even back in New Testament days this was happening. “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1 Timothy 5:13).
Evaluating Time Usage
It is important for each of us to evaluate our time usage and ask the Lord if it is in accordance with His direction for our lives. We can be in the right place to be doing what the Lord wants us to do, but if we are not utilizing our time properly, we might be missing out on the blessings He would have for us. When we waste time, we aren’t able to keep up with the responsibilities the Lord gives us. Also if we aren’t using our time according to God-given priorities, we can have trouble. We might feel stressed, guilty, or unhappy. For some it degrades into depression.
I think we could safely say that the Lord isn’t going to ask us to do more than there is time to do. Our job, then, is to determine, with the Lord’s help, what are time wasters, what our time priorities are, and where our time should be spent.
When I have a stressed mom write me who says she can’t keep up with all there is to do with a growing family and homeschooling, I ask her to evaluate where her time is going. A schedule is certainly a helpful tool for that. Without a schedule, it can be very difficult to determine exactly where the time is spent. Plus, really and truly, a schedule makes a mom more productive, but that is another story.
What Comes First?
For example, it wouldn’t be unusual for a mom to go to her computer or phone early in the morning after getting up, before she’s had her time with the Lord and before the children wake up. While it’s quiet, she checks her e-mail, and maybe reads a blog or two. In her mind, she plans to spend five, maybe ten minutes there. However, she decides that an e-mail or two would be easy to respond to right away, and one blog leads to another that looks interesting, inspiring, and educational. It could be an hour later that she is still there. The children are now up, but they are an irritation because they need attention. They are a distraction from what she really wants to do at that moment.
In addition to all of that, this mom never gets to her time with the Lord, in the Word and in prayer. If we were to ask the Lord what He wants our time invested in, I am confident He would tell us that time in the Word and prayer is a much higher priority than media time. Does that mean we can never read or write an e-mail or read a blog? No, but it does mean that we keep our priorities straight, and we evaluate whether media time is stealing time away from things the Lord would have us do.
Prioritizing would say that media time comes after spiritual nourishment and a mom’s primary responsibilities. It might also mean that there are other ministry or educational things the Lord wants to be utilized by time that has been given to media. When priorities are sorted out, then the media time can be put into a scheduled timeframe. That scheduled timeframe will assure that it doesn’t keep her from time with the Lord, meeting the needs of her family, or her other priorities. It also helps her to contain the time to a specified amount so that it doesn’t rob her of time she should be using in other avenues.
How Much Time?
I am not just picking on phones and computers. It could be something as beneficial as exercise. Exercise is certainly good for our health and even for our emotional well being, but it also should have parameters and boundaries. It isn’t more important than our spiritual health. “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). So if exercise is superseding Bible reading and prayer, I can’t help but wonder if the priorities are off. If exercise causes Mom to be angry and frustrated with her children’s needs, then she should re-evaluate when she exercises. She can schedule it for when the children won’t need her or when someone else can meet those needs, and she can look for ways to keep the exercise within a reasonable time frame. Once again, a schedule helps put these important parts of our day into their proper places considering priorities and needs.
Where Is Our Attention?
Those are just a few examples. Here are a few more. What about texting? A text or two is just a minute here or a minute there. However, it interrupts whatever the mom is involved in doing, generally expands beyond those initial minutes (have you ever timed a texting conversation?), and it takes her attention away from her scheduled priority at that moment.
Talking on the phone? Yes, we want to have and build relationships, but there may be seasons in a young mom’s life where she doesn’t have extended amounts of time to talk on the phone. It is simply not a top priority for the amount of time she has with her responsibilities. That phone time puts unnecessary pressure on the rest of her day, causing stress and discouragement with what she isn’t accomplishing.
Is It a Time Waster?
Reading novels? Watching TV? Watching movies? Those are all activities that we can live just fine without doing (likely a mom is better off without them anyway). For the busy mom, I would wonder if they fit into the top part of her priorities. They rob her of time that she desperately needs for the priorities the Lord has given her.
I am sure there are many others too. They may be things that are enjoyed, but they aren’t necessities in life and would not rate high on a priority list even if they are relationship builders or educational. They take time, and they take attention that is likely needed in other places. Each mom should be aware of whether she is keeping up with the responsibilities God has given to her, whether she is spiritually nourishing her soul, whether she is feeling daily time pressure stress, and whether the activities in her schedule are ones that bring glory to the Lord.
Redeeming the Time?
I want to go to bed at night with a peaceful heart, knowing that my time was spent doing what the Lord wanted me to do. “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). I can use my time the way I desire to use it, and even if they were good activities, I might find myself discouraged at the end of the day if they weren’t what the Lord directed me to do. Perhaps they kept me from doing things that were important for my family or that would have allowed me to be current with my responsibilities. It could be that they simply moved my attention from my children and their needs into another realm.
May I encourage each of us to go to the Lord and seek His direction for every part of our daily time usage. May we evaluate our activities and weed out time wasters so that we are productive with our time.
May we also look at other things we do to determine if it is a current priority or needs to be put aside for a season. I know there is great peace and joy in a life lived like that. If you need help with a schedule, I suggest you buy Managers of Their Homes, or pull it off your shelf to reread if you already have it.