“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.” –Aristotle
Can you recall a time when a series of crushing demands triggered some bad decisions? Most of us can. There are many things in life we can’t control or avoid. Weather. Illness. Accidents. Taxes. Death. The list goes on. But one thing we can control is our schedules and the knowledge that God’s sustaining love defines and shapes our lives.
The victory over self that Aristotle mentions in the quote above comes from a combination of wisdom and discipline. There is a certain victory too when we know our values and practice them each and every day.
As a first step toward controlling your schedule, ask yourself, “What values drive my management of time and my response to daily demands?” Then think about how practicing a particular value will both require and save time.
For example, if you value your relationship with God, if God is your first priority, you’ll want to read the Scriptures and pray each day. That takes time. But you’ll discover that the time you spend with God is like the rudder on a boat. It will keep you on course all day, every day, until you reach your destination.
However, it’s important to remember: When we talk about our stewardship of time as disciples of Christ—and church workers—we must define our ministry not just as a job in itself, but in larger terms. As Luther said, “Consider your place in life: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker?” In setting priorities and controlling our time, it’s important to honor all those roles, as well our relationship with ourselves (yes, ourselves).
Of course, changing your schedule to reflect your values takes time. Even more difficult, it requires you to break old habits. How often have you been inspired by a motivational speaker or book, determined to change your life, and then watched your good intentions fizzle away? (Let me move the log in my eye first). It happens again and again as the stress and strain of life takes our focus off the goal.
To help you follow through, here are some quick tips.
- Set aside at least 10 minutes each day just for yourself;
- Focus on developing one good new habit: exercise, prayer, better diet, staying hydrated, etc;
- Write out your plans and notes for each day in a planner of some kind—either a calendar with places to write goals and notes (such as a Franklin Planner), a smartphone app, a notebook, or anything that will keep you on track.
A Special “Time Management” Gift for Pastors:
Church Extension Fund is pleased to offer a free Lutheran Pastor’s Planner for the 2018 Church Year. This planner has been specifically designed for LCMS pastors and includes many of the same features as earlier Thrivent planners. The planners will be available this fall. For details, visit the August blog posting on the CEF website at: www.mi-cef.org/blog.
Photo (c) jacoblund/iStock