Today

Having recently written about ‘Yesterday’ my thoughts jogged along to ‘Today’ and I thought I would try to wax poetic about this thing we call today. I don’t think I’m going to win an award for what is contained here, but I’m sharing it as a way of recording my jottings.

I woke and it was today. Wow! How fast it came.
Only yesterday this day was far away.
And I don’t think I’m ready yet for today.
Could I have a few more days to prepare?
I think I was distracted and didn’t realise how time was passing.

Can we just put it off one more day?
Oh.
So, it’s today.
And I’m ill prepared.
Hmmm.

Well I guess I can have a shot at it, but it won’t be very good.
I should have prepared.
I was going to study and do some reading.
And I thought I’d understand more by now.
But I guess that’s not how it works.

Just give me a minute to see if I can find something to help.
Where are those notes I scribbled long ago?
I can’t find them.
And I don’t remember what they said.
Are you sure we can’t do this tomorrow instead?

Cruel is the fate that catches us off-guard.
Unrelenting time has made this moment hard.
How dare it treat me so?
It seemed to go so slow.
But now I’m caught in moments locked and barred.

Today is oh so cruel to catch me unprepared.
It makes me feel the fool and not a little scared.
It leaves me out of step
With hardly time to prep.
It shows me up as one who hasn’t cared.

Others I can see have met this day full force.
Just how can it be that they have kept that course?
How did they do so well?
I wish that I could tell.
For as for me I’m like a limping horse.

While others dash ahead and run about quite free
My feet are made of lead and stumble under me.
Today has bogged me down
And made me look the clown
While others as I’ve said, get the jump on me.

Tomorrow’s on its way and so I make my choice
To pick a course and stay on track with mind and voice.
So when tomorrow comes
I’ll beat the welcome drums
And have it on a tray as I rejoice.

The Tyranny of Time

I have had the privilege of learning about time management from some well respected exponents on the subject. Yet my own time management has never been exemplary. Consciousness of time and tasks can become burdensome reality to many. So time management is a pretty important issue in our lives, especially for those who wish to be high achievers and who need to squeeze all they can out of their available time.

A Time Management Question

Here’s a time management question for you, to help you reflect on some of the philosophical issues of harnessing available time.

“There is never enough time to get everything done, so what are you going to do?”

Now, before you launch off with off-the-cuff answers, let me refine the question a little for you. Let’s image a scenario in which to address this question. Let’s imagine a situation where a person does not have a boss. Maybe they are running their own business, or just managing their life without having to be told what to do, such as a salesman might do.

The point of removing the boss is to have a situation where the person must make their own decisions about time management. If a person is overloaded with work given them by a boss they can always revert to the boss and let the boss solve the problem. I am creating a scenario that does not have that option.

The Scenario

So, we are considering a person trying to achieve various things, but with never enough time to get everything done. Let’s assume that by the end of each day there is at least one more task on the list than there had at the beginning of the day. This just goes on each day, ad infinitum. There is just not enough time to get everything done.

Now, if you were in that situation what would you do?

The Options

One possibility is that you could kill yourself trying to catch up. Since there is never enough time to get everything done (as is my starting premise), there is the option of becoming totally buried and burdened by the tasks. You could, for instance, just spend every waking moment chasing the list of things to do, pushing through them like a galley slave rowing across the ocean.

Some people chose this option. They become a pawn to their workload, ever struggling upstream against it. The work eats up their life and their time and their energy and just about everything else.

Is that how you face your workload?

Alternatively you could just give up. You could realise that the task is undo-able and just not bother trying to do it. “Why bother?” No matter how hard you try you can’t tame the demands, so you will have to leave many things undone. If you have to leave anything undone, then why should you have to do anything at all? Why not leave it ALL undone?

Some people lean toward this option. These are the minimalists. They do as little as they can get away with, because they have lost all heart for the tasks. They feel defeated by the challenge and just can’t face pressing on at all.

Two Extremes

Those two extreme positions stand in contrast to each other. Yet they summarise the limits of our choices. Your approach to the things you have to accomplish will be somewhere between complete slavery to the tasks and complete abandonment.

Some of you are workaholics, completely enslaved to the “To Do” lists in your life. For some that is the secret to their success. For others it is the treadmill that will consume their lives.

Others are work-refusers. They avoid tasks like they avoid leprosy. What they have to do they do as quickly and casually as they can. If they can get out of a task they will go out of their way to do it.

Time is Not the Issue

In either of the extremes which I have drawn out of the simple scenario the issue is not a matter of time-management. The issue is that of heart attitude. It is a character issue.

We are not measured by what we achieve or how clever we are at managing the time allotted to us. We are measured by the “who” that we become along the way.

If you become a slave and elevate tasks above the rest of your life, then that is the “who” that you have become. If you become slack and defeated, then that is the “who” that you have become.

The first issue, then, is not how to do more work, or how to get more things done. It is not a matter of priorities, routine, best practice or time and motion studies. The issue is “Who are you?”

What kind of person are you? Do you know diligence? Do you have a faithful spirit? Do you make wise choices? Are you compulsive? Do you let work or other people’s demands rule your life? Have you given up on things? Just how much have you given up on?

Become a Better You

As you become a better you, by developing godly character, doing things as if for God and not for yourself, you will be better able to manage the issues of your life.

Your workload is an issue of your life. It is not your life. Your time is an issue of your life. It is not your life.

Your character IS your life. WHO you are is what your life is all about. You will face eternal consequences for who you are, not for the way you managed time or processed work.

My advice? Become a better you. Call on God’s grace to transform you and your attitudes and character, until the tasks and choices that confront you are met by someone with godly wisdom and divine grace.

The Importance of Timing

There is a time for everything. So says Solomon in his supreme wisdom. Yet timing is a lost art for most people, especially in our opportunistic culture today. So, do you understand “times”? There’s a lot in the subject of time and timing. So this is just an introduction to the topic. You will remember that end time prophecies refer to such things as “time, times and half a time” (Daniel 12:7, Revelation 12:14).

Jesus knew the times and said of himself, “my time has not yet come” (John 7:6,8).

Members of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, Issachar, were noted for their ability to understand the times, thus knowing what Israel should do in various situations (1Chronicles 12:32). Knowing the significance of times and seasons enables people to make the right choice at the right time.

King Solomon gave us a poetic celebration of the reality of times and seasons.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The most sobering reflection on ‘time’ comes out of the life of Elisha, the powerful prophet of Israel, approx 850 years before Christ. After this man of God healed the Syrian leper, Naaman, he declined to accept the lavish and valuable gifts offered him by the grateful military captain. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, however, had no qualms about getting a share of the goods and so he secretly went to Naaman and asked for some of the booty, which Naaman happily gave him. When Gehazi returned to his post Elisha challenged him, since the prophet knew by divine revelation what Gehazi had done.

Significant in Elisha’s challenge to Gehazi is the issue of ‘timing’.

“And Elisha said to him, Didn’t my heart go with you when the man (Naaman) turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive-yards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?” 2Kings 5:26

Elisha knew something about timing that Gehazi did not know. It was not the right time to get wealth. Gehazi’s problem was not greed, nor deception, but ignorance of the time in which he was living.

Now, considering how vital timing is in such a case, how well are we acquainted with timing and seasons in our lives? I suspect that most of us think opportunity is all that is required. If there is an opportunity to get something then the opportunity speaks for itself. Many people end up in some kind of curse, just as Gehazi did, when they act without regard for the times and seasons.

I suggest we all need to be much more prayerful and sensitive to times and seasons. We need to seek God for insight and revelation about how times and seasons impact our lives. Let’s do that and stay in step with what God is doing in us and our community, and the world at large.