By Tony Thompson, Leader of Hope Church Luton
I have written previously about the importance of a biblical understanding of the stewardship of money, what is often overlooked is a biblical understanding of stewardship of time. For some our time is in shorter supply than our money! For others we seem to have too much time on our hands. In both cases it is important we use the time we have at our disposal to the glory of God. Time is a valuable but limited recourse of 24 hours in a day, for a finite life time, it is important how we use that time.
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10v31, so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
This verse is the climax of a section in the letter discussing the relationship between freedom and responsibility. The conclusion is we need to take responsibility for how we use our freedom. Whatever you do, do it ALL for the glory of God. Everything, including time is a gift from God, use it for His glory.
In the gospels we see Jesus being very purposeful in his use of time; time alone with his heavenly father; choosing to spend time with followers rather than nuclear family; spending 30 years as son, carpenter etc.; time alone, time with crowds, time with disciples, spontaneous, structured. He purposely invested his time, so must we. But how?
I have concluded that we need to serve God with our time in each of four areas. Work; church; family and friends; leisure. I came to this conclusion after years of getting it wrong, to the detriment of those around me as well as myself!
Things to be considered in allocating between the 4. ALL for the glory of God!
- Seasons of life – the time allocated between them changes as we go through life. E.g. whether we are a child; single; young married; family; empty nests; older age.
- Short term circumstances impact the balance e.g. a work project, family crisis.
- About stewarding time rather than just responding to need. We need to take responsibility rather than allowing others to dictate how we use our time. Sometimes we have to make very difficult and potentially unpopular decisions. We cannot do everything. E.g. I chose to put family before church at one time when I felt it was more important to take my sons to a major football match than attend an important church event. Not an easy decision.
- Continually re-asses, circumstances are always changing and energy levels change as well. We have to protect ourselves from burn out.
Other thoughts regarding stewardship of time
- In all areas invest time in the now as well as the future. Invest in things in which you receive and in things in which you give.
- Be willing to trade off between areas – e.g. Work may lack fulfilment but provides resources to enable other activities that are more fulfilling. Balance – daily; weekly; monthly; annually
- Balance creates more energy – eating well, sleeping well, exercising well mean we can do more things.
- No right answers, but doesn’t happen unless you plan, budget, invest, make choices, make big and little decisions, take responsibility for your use of time.
- Whatever you do, do it ALL for the glory of God.
Questions to help you.
- How is your current balance? Which of the 4 areas are you neglecting? Giving too much time to?
- How is the balance in giving and receiving? This is particularly relevant in our involvement in church. Where am I receiving, where am I giving? What adjustments should I make?
- How are my energy levels? Should I be doing more or less?
- Who can I talk to about my investment of time?