means time saved—that is, more time for pastoral
ministry, growth, study, and family. The keys for
"redeeming the time" concern priorities,
procrastination, and plans.
Yes, "to everything there is a...
time" (Eccl. 3:1). But not all matters and events have
equal importance. Assign priorities to guide how
valuable time should be spent. For example, a daily
schedule may give high priority to intercessory prayer
and to funeral sermon preparation and low priority to
getting a haircut and attending a local service club
meeting. Label the high priority items as A and the low
priority items as C. Sort the A items by importance and
schedule time to accomplish them. Do C items when A
items have been done satisfactorily (watch for the trap
of feeling good about doing several C items which really
Since we do not know "what shall be on the morrow" (Jas.
4:14), avoid putting off working on A items.
Procrastination behaviors include daydreaming (not the
same as mental brainstorming), socializing (not the same
as pastoral visitation), and getting organized by making
"to do" lists (not the same as planning).
Procrastination is often a product of dread, fear,
fatigue, lack of interest, or a quest for perfection.
Overcome putting off by getting started (some work on A
items is better than none) and by breaking large tasks
into smaller portions. Focus on the goal and not on just
the "having to get there."
"Plan your work, and work your plan" does not imply
rigidity. Pastoral priorities change due to unexpected
deaths, family emergencies, or personal illness. Some
matters or events lead to others. Plan for the
unexpected by avoiding procrastination and by amending
plans due to changing priorities. Consider the
situation, your options, the consequences of each
option, and adjust accordingly. Let the flexibility,
which keeps skyscrapers from breaking in storms, keep
you from breaking in the "storms" of stressful
developments and demands.
Time management can
make a difference in whether time is spent or used.
Listing events in a pocket planner or on a desk calendar
is helpful; but assigning priorities, avoiding
procrastination, and amending plans help manage time
effectively. Save time by managing time. And always
remember the time management prayer of Moses: "So teach
us to number our days" (Ps. 90:12).
(Resources: Rainer, Thom S. Eating the Elephant:
Bite-sized Steps to Achieve Long-Term Growth in Your
Church. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994}