Most people today are either too busy – or not busy enough. Either our schedules are so hectic we can’t get everything done, or else we are bored and restless, constantly looking for something to amuse us. We are the most frantic generation in history – and also the most entertained. The Bible, however, tells us that both extremes are wrong.
We can’t always choose how to use our time, of course; sometimes our circumstances control us. My heart always goes out to the single mothers who write me, struggling every day just to survive. Disability, illness, unemployment, or retirement may keep us from doing what we once did and make us feel useless and only “killing time.” But even if circumstances control our time, we can still control our attitude – with God’s help. He can also help us gain more control over our time and begin to use it in new ways.
How can we use our time wisely? Let me suggest four steps I have found helpful.
First, see each day as a gift from God. Instead of seeing each day as a burden, see it instead as another opportunity God has given you to serve Him. Time isn’t inexhaustible, nor can we assume we’ll always have more; someday our time on earth will end. The psalmist said, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15). The first thing we should do when we awake is thank God for the gift of another day.
Second, commit your time to God. God gave it to you for a reason: not to be wasted or mishandled, but to be used for His glory. We are accountable to Him for the way we use our time, and once a minute passes, it can never be reclaimed. The Bible says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
How can we put this into action? It may mean asking God to help us schedule our time more wisely and efficiently. It may mean rethinking how we spend our time, and then adjusting it to reflect God’s priorities. We may also need to examine why we’re so busy (or so bored). Is what we are doing really necessary – or are we simply trying to impress others? We can’t do everything, and we need to say “no,” if some activity isn’t God’s will.
Third, set aside time for God and for others. No Christian would say, “I’m too busy for God,” but how often have you gone through a whole day without even thinking about Him (let alone praying or reading the Bible)? How often have you ignored someone who needed your encouragement or help?
Why is this? One reason is because we relegate God to our spare time – but end up never having any spare time! In other words, we mentally list everything we have to do and put God at the bottom of the list. But the opposite should be the case. Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, emphasis added).
Finally, take time for your own needs. We all need rest and recreation; God made us this way. Some people feel guilty if they take a vacation or even a few hours off, but they shouldn’t. In the midst of an incredibly busy schedule, Jesus told His disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). If Jesus required times of rest, don’t we also? Someone who is chronically exhausted from lack of sleep or improper eating is much more susceptible to Satan’s attacks.
Excerpt from The Journey: How to Live by Faith in an Uncertain World by Billy Graham (Thomas Nelson, 2006)