I had never thought about it in that way or been able to articulate it as my friend did, but the more I’ve thought about that conversation, I can see the truth in her assessment.
Let’s face it — we all live very busy lives. I think it’s safe to say that we are the busiest we’ve ever been as a society. Additionally, we’re probably the most stressed, too. Family, work, school, church, and various other obligations and responsibilities fill our days (and even nights) to the brim. On top of that, we are continuously presented with new opportunities. Although many of these are good and worthwhile pursuits, we can easily find ourselves stretched too thin and overwhelmed by an over-packed agenda.
In my own experience, I can attest to feeling great pressure to say yes to new opportunities, especially when it comes to serving others or participating in ministry. Often, that pressure is mixed with genuine desire as well. On the occasions that I have had to turn down an invitation, request, or opportunity, I have felt guilty, anxious, and somehow wrong, even though I know I made the right decision.
Trying to discern how to manage our time and the opportunities that come our way can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be crippling. Not only has God given us His Word to help us, we also have the Holy Spirit to guide us through these often difficult decisions.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
While the Bible doesn’t give us straightforward commands on every aspect of our lives, it does give us wisdom and principles to guide us in making decisions and help us clear away the outward pressures and inner struggles we face when it comes to saying yes or no.
Let’s start with two basic principles:
1. Admit Your Limitations
Our entire existence as human beings is defined by limits. There’s a finite number of hours in each day. Our physical energy for each day is limited and becomes depleted, requiring us to recharge through food and rest. Our lives are limited in time; none of us will live forever, at least not in these earthly bodies. I mention all these very simple, obvious examples of our limitations to point to a bigger truth — you cannot do it all and God doesn’t expect you to.
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!" Psalm 39:4
God is the one who designed and created us in our finite state. He purposefully made us with limits. So, why then would He expect us to be able to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way? The answer is, He doesn’t. If you’re like me and have struggled with fear of ever saying no because you feel it will displease the Lord, let me encourage you. God expects us and enables us to use discernment when managing our limited time and resources. That means that while there’s a time to say yes, there is also definitely a time to say no.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12: 2
There is no way we can live a life that pleases the Lord and blesses others if we neglect our spiritual growth. Setting aside this time isn’t selfish, it’s essential.
Maybe you have an early quiet time in the morning before you head off to work. Perhaps, you’re a young mom who uses your little one’s morning or afternoon nap for prayer and meditating on the Word. Or it could be you are a night owl and can focus best on Bible study in the evenings before bed. Whatever time works for you and helps you to maximize and glean the most from your time with God, set it on the schedule first.
Our second non-negotiable is intentional time as a couple and as a family. This doesn’t necessarily mean Tyler and I are going out on dates all the time or planning elaborate activities to do with our daughter. While we do work to make time for those things as well, we primarily want to make sure we are having purposeful time together to communicate and connect. This isn’t something that you can always put on a calendar; however, as we budget our time and evaluate our schedules, we try to build in free time that allows us to be together in an intentional way. If we find we are so busy that we don’t have time to read to or play with our daughter or have a meaningful conversation as spouses, then we are too busy and something needs to go.
I appreciate the wise analogy my sister-in-law once shared with me. “We often feel like we have to keep all the plates spinning all the time,” she said, “but we really don’t. Pick the plates that absolutely must keep going, and learn to be okay with letting the rest fall.”
Where do we go from here? Join us the last Friday of next month for "3 Key Considerations to Help Us Use Our Time Wisely"
What time of day works for you to maximize and glean the most from your time with God?
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