By Chris Hefner
Some of you might have looked at the title of this article and suspected it would be about time management.
We pastors could likely use some tips on how to be more productive with our time management. But this won’t be one of those posts.
Instead, I’d like us to explore the issue of time from a deeper perspective.
Several weeks ago in a theology class I was teaching, we discussed the relation of God to time. While there are several viewpoints regarding God’s relationship to time (as we experience it), there’s one certainty—God isn’t constrained by time.
He isn’t controlled by the past, limited to the present, or burdened by the future. Time for God is a servant, not a master.
Yet for us, we’re all too often controlled by time and its implications. By this, I don’t mean we’re merely limited by time. We all have the same number of seconds, minutes, and hours in the day.
We have no control over the amount of time we have. But we do have control over the way we allow time to affect us. Too often, we allow pains of the past and worries about the future to crowd out the necessity of the present.
As I’ve been thinking about the close of 2019 and preparing for 2020, I’ve been reflecting on the biblical view of time and how it should affect my view of it.
We should reflect on the past, not be bound by it.
The past can be debilitating. The past contains failures, sins, abuses, wrongs, and pains. If we’re not careful, we can allow the past to shackle us with shame and regret.
When we received the gospel, Christ freed us from the shackles of our past. Not only did He forgive our sins, but He made us new.
While the things we’ve done or the things done to us don’t magically go away, they no longer define us.
The Old Testament is full of reflection. For example, the author of Psalm 136 looks back at the rescue of the people of Israel from Egypt.
This is the way we ought to view the past. Because of the gospel, we know our past was cleansed, and we’ve been given a new direction.
We ought to reflect on how far we were from God and what God did to redeem us. Reflecting on the past is cause for thankfulness.
We should prepare for the future, not worry about it.
If you’re anything like me, you have a lot on your plate and even more ideas and visions for the days ahead. Unfortunately, busy schedules provide a platform for worry and unsettled concerns.
We worry about finances, plans, dreams, and the busyness of our schedules. We fret about what might happen. In our worries, we distort today’s reality and disobey God.
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that we’re not to worry about our needs or our future (Matthew 6:25-34). A gospel perspective includes the future (God’s sovereignty and our eternal home).
So we should prepare for tomorrow’s business. We should plan, pray, and dream. But we should not borrow tomorrow’s troubles for today and worry about what we can’t control.
We should live in the present, not lose it.
If we’re not careful, we’ll squander today’s opportunities in the shackles of the past and the worries of tomorrow. We must live for the kingdom of God daily, moment by moment.
That phone call, card, prayer, sermon, blog post, text message, study time, or meeting on your plate today might be divinely appointed.
Embrace each moment’s task, conversation, or interaction as a means of glorifying God. Don’t be so busy that the people and opportunities today are lost in a forever shuffle of moving time.
How do we embrace today’s moments for the glory of Christ? Here are some practical tips:
- Pause today and reflect in prayerful gratitude for all that God saved you from.
- Anticipate some people interruptions and treat individuals as divine appointments.
- Listen to your wife, children, co-workers, or parishioners and truly hear what they say.
- Read, study, write, or preach with an eternal perspective regarding the lost.
- Take an hour this week to plan, dream, and prepare for the future.
- When tempted to worry, pray.
- When bound by the past, thank Christ for your freedom.
- And when covered up by busyness, remember you serve a sovereign God.
CHRIS HEFNER (@chrishefner) is husband to a beautiful wife and fantastic mommy, Jean Hefner, daddy of two little boys, William and Nathan, and senior pastor at Wilkesboro Baptist Church in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. He’s also professor of Western Civilization and Apologetics at Fruitland Baptist Bible College and Ph.D. graduate from the Billy Graham School of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.