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Devotional: Self Management

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Using Our Resources with Wisdom and Purpose

What follows is a series of short reflections designed to help us use our resources with wisdom and purpose.

 

 

Week 2:  Managing Your Finances

Day 1 : Managing Your Finances

 

This week we will be contemplating the wise and purposeful use of our resources again. We will be focusing specifically on our money.

 

Pastor John Piper puts it as plainly as it can be put!

“What you do with money – or desire to do with it – can make or break your happiness forever. The Bible makes clear that what you feel about money can destroy you: ‘Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.’ (1 Timothy 6:9)

 

“Or what you do with money can secure the foundation of eternal life: ‘They are to be liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed.’ (1 Timothy 6:18, 19)

 

These verses teach us to use our money in a way that will bring us the greatest and longest gain.”

 

Remember, our desire is to use our resources with wisdom and purpose. Let’s add some emphasis: we need to use our resources and not allow them to use us. This is not because we are supposed to and God is going to get us if we don’t. This is not because we need to feel the extra burden of trying to do good all the time. (Some of us think of the spiritual life like that – like a burden we have to carry.)

 

Instead, we desire to use our resources with wisdom and purpose because life lived this way is freer. Life lived this way is easier and happier in the long run. Again, let’s hear from Piper.

“These verses imply that all the evils in the world come not because our desires for happiness are too strong, but because they are so weak that we settle for fleeting pleasures that do not satisfy our deepest souls, but in the end destroy them. The root of all evil is that we are the kind of people who settle for the love of money instead of the love of God. (1 Timothy 6:10)”

 

  • Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19
  • What reasons does this passage give for not placing our trust on our finances?
  • According to this passage, it is not more money that allows us to “gain”. What is it that produces gain in our lives?
  • Pray that God will allow the truth of this passage to bear fruit in your life.
  • Offer Him your finances today.

 

Day 2 Managing Your Finances

 

Today, we will look at a hard teaching from the Old Testament prophet Haggai. Let me offer some context. Jerusalem had been destroyed two generations before this writing and the entire country had fallen with her. Significant portions of the Jewish population had been forced to leave their land and were exiled to the land of their conquerors; doomed to spend much of their time as second-class citizens in a foreign land.

 

At a later date, a friendlier king agreed to let them return and rebuild Jerusalem and resettle their homeland. They had been at this work for quite a while when Haggai speaks to them. He rebukes them for giving all of their time and energy to their own houses, but not any effort to rebuilding the temple.

 

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”

Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.  Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.  “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

Haggai 1:2-11

 

  • Think of Haggai’s word as a word for you. In what area(s) of your life have you not devoted the time and energy to building the Lord’s house?
  • Are there times when your efforts feel fruitless – “You eat, but never have enough … You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”?
    • Think of such a time now. Or maybe there are aspects of your life that feel this way to you. Career? Relationships? Parenting? Saving? Your home? Take a minute and consider.
    • Now spend a minute and ask God if any of this fruitlessness is because of your inattention to your relationship with Him.
  • Again, think of Haggai’s word as a word for you. What would it look like for you to “Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it”? Specifically, what does this say to your finances?
  • Dedicate your finances to God today. Ask Him to show you how He wants you to use your resources.

 

Day 3 Managing Your Finances

 

Financial guru Dave Ramsey has written a very helpful book on using our finances with wisdom and purpose called The Total Money Makeover. Ramsey had this to say: “Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge. What to do isn’t the problem; doing it is. Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it. If I can control the guy in the mirror, I can be skinny and rich.”

 

This morning, I want us to look at some very, very practical advice from Solon Vlasto who is a skilled financial planner in our congregation. This speaks a little to the “20% head knowledge” that Ramsey referenced. As I said, Solon gives some practical steps here. But more than the practical steps, I want you to listen to the heart. Solon said:

 

“God has probably blessed you with the gift of some kind of financial resource. Some may find managing your finances challenging, and even when you feel like things are fine, you may wonder if you are on the right track. Consider the ideas below and think about some adjustments you can make. You may just want to focus on one or two of these areas if it is overwhelming. Or this may just serve as a checkup on some basic financial planning areas. If it is all too overwhelming then consider outside help, there are many resources available through the church.

  • Set aside and maintain an emergency fund. This is cash in a special bank account to take care of essential expenses if you lose your job. Should have at least 3-6 months of expenses set aside here.
  • Save a fixed amount every paycheck towards retirement, no matter how much debt you have. The amount should be automatically deducted from your pay and put in a retirement account at a bank or retirement plan. Try to get to a 10 - 13% savings rate. If your company matches any contributions to your retirement plan at work, try to take advantage of the full match before saving anywhere else. This is free money!
  • A very general rule of thumb is to have retirement savings set aside that total 16 to 20 times your gross income when you retire. For example if you were earning $80,000 in your last year, a goal would be to have $1,600,000 set aside by then. This does not include your house, cars, furniture etc.
  • If you have credit card debt – try to pay off the smallest balances first. There is a sense of accomplishment with each credit card you close. Then go to the next smallest account while paying the minimums on the other accounts until they are all paid off!
  • When saving for college, the amounts to save can vary widely depending on your child’s goals. Ideally you are saving towards your retirement first. There are some good calculators online, but a starting point could be $1,000 per year (starting at birth) for a local college. $3,000 per year for a regional or state and over $6,000 per year for a private high-end school.
  • Ideally your mortgage payment for principal, interest, tax and insurance is not more than 28% of your gross income. Consider refinancing when interest rates are low if you are paying more than this.
  • Review your life insurance each year. Many people are fine with term insurance and only looking to buy enough to replace the income that others may be relying on.
  • Consider disability insurance. Chances of getting disabled through sickness or an accident are quite high. Being able to pay your expenses while disabled is extremely helpful. Check with a business association first before buying on your own.
  • When you set some guidelines and start intentionally managing your finances you are honoring God with what he has provided for you. You are the steward of these gifts and after you give back to Him, the rest is to provide for a life that honors Him.”

I suspect that our responses to Solon’s advice range from, “Good advice, Solon. I would have said much the same if I had been asked …” to “Good grief, I am overwhelmed. Stop already!”

The point is take the next step. Whatever the right next step is for you in bringing more management, more integrity and more purposefulness to your finances then take that step. Whether you have advanced understanding in this area or none at all, plan TODAY to take the next right step. It’s not just about giving more to charity, although that is a wise, purposeful and God-honoring thing to do. But it’s about wise, purposeful use across the board.

  • “Winning at money is 80% behavior.” Pray that God would adjust your behavior so that you can more fully use your resources with wisdom and purpose.
  • Have you missed one of Solon’s steps? If so, how can you address it? Do you need some help/advice?

 

 

 

Day 4 Managing Your Finances

 

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Romans 5:10

 

Read the verse above a second time – slowly.

 

If you really think about Paul’s words above, phrase-by-phrase, they may sound odd. In fact, chances are the longer you’ve been around the church the odder they sound. For one thing, aren’t we saved by his death? That’s what I used to think. Here’s what I mean.

 

I remember being young and hearing people talk about being “saved”. I wasn’t much of a theologian, mind you (even though all of us practice theology whether we’re aware of it or not). But in my limited theology I had the impression that being saved meant that the savee got a get out of jail free card; I thought it meant that they got to be with God forever – and that’s pretty much it. Plus, it was clear to me that that happened for me because Jesus died in my place. That’s really awesome, by the way, and partly true, but that’s certainly not it.

 

The earliest Christians quickly came to realize that the death of Jesus meant that everything that separated them from God had been obliterated – that Jesus had taken the burden of sin and the distance it created to the cross with him and he killed it, or rather it died when he died.  

 

That’s awesome. But the key to our spiritual life is not the death of Jesus, but his life! That’s where we find God’s power on display; that’s where we see freedom at work!   That’s why the disciples followed him. And his life was the key to their lives. Dallas Willard explains it this way: “As the pages of the Gospel amply show, Christ’s transcendent life in the present Kingdom of the Heaven is what drew the disciples together around Jesus prior to his death. And then resurrection and postresurrection events proved that life to be indestructible.”

 

Jesus lived … free and empowered. And he showed us how to live that way!

 

So what has this got to do with our finances? A lot actually.

 

Any time we look to our finances as a source of life for us, then we are moving in the exact opposite direction of the real life that God offers us; the life that Jesus demonstrated to us. And looking to our finances as the source of life for us is the essence of materialism. (Remember Timothy’s teaching from Day 1?)

 

This is why we feel so burdened and worried about our money. This is why we are intimidated if our house or our car does not, in our minds, measure up. This is why we like shopping. We truly believe that money, and specifically more of it than we currently have, holds the key for us. At the very least, we believe it is part of the key. We’d be much happier, much more content, much more at peace if we had more of it. And this is the very definition of looking to finances as a source of life.

 

When Paul uses the word “saved” he doesn’t mean to receive our get out of jail free card. He means to experience a new and profoundly better kind of life. He means to experience a new kind of integrity. He means to experience a new kind of freedom from guilt and fear. He means to experience a living connection with God. And all of that is available to us through the life of Christ.

 

Money is a resource – nothing more. It has virtually no power to bring us real life. In fact, the only help it brings is to the degree that we use it wisely. Again, real life is available to us through Christ, not through acquiring more stuff or collecting more resources!

 

Imagine picking up a spoon and thinking you are well fed as a result. How completely naïve! If you use that spoon to dig a hole or to scratch your back or to stir paint you will soon find out that you are not nourished in the least. But if you use that spoon to bring food to your mouth … well then you will be nourished – not because of the spoon but because you have wisely used the spoon to feed yourself!  

 

Since the life of Christ is the only real source of life for us, then our goal must be to use our money to bring us closer to the life of Christ.

 

  • Dedicate your finances to God today. Ask Him to show you how He wants you to use your resources.
  • Ask God to teach you more about the salvation that is available through the life of Jesus.

 

Day 5 Managing Your Finances

 

 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:20-21

 

We ended the meditation yesterday by saying “Our goal then must be to use our money to bring us closer to the life of Christ.” Let’s talk a little more about how we might do that.

 

I love the way Randy Alcorn makes this point in his book Where’s Your Heart.

“Suppose you buy shares of General Motors. What happens? You suddenly develop interest in GM. You check the financial pages. You see a magazine article about GM and read every word, even though a month ago you would have passed right over it. Suppose you're giving to help African children with AIDS. When you see an article on the subject, you're hooked. If you're sending money to plant churches in India and an earthquake hits India, you watch the news and fervently pray …

 

“Do you wish you cared more about eternal things? Then reallocate some of your money, maybe most of your money, from temporal things to eternal things. Put your resources, your assets, your money and possessions, your time and talents and energies into the things of God. Watch what happens. As surely as the compass needle follows north, your heart will follow your treasure. Money leads; hearts follow.”

 

If it really is your goal to know God more deeply and to love Him more fully then you will invest yourself in things that will move you toward that goal. If it is your goal to experience the life of Christ more fully, you will invest your money in ways that will promote that in you.

 

  • “Storing up” requires sacrificing today so that I might have something tomorrow. Look at Jesus’ words at the start of today. Where are we storing up? Why should we store there? How do we store there?
  • Read Luke 12:22-34. Make special note of verse 33. I love the image there.
  • Give yourself and your day to God. This is the most valuable resource you have. Ask Him to help you use it wisely.
  • Collect your thoughts and feelings from this week about your finances and surrender those to God.   Ask Him to continue to grow you in using your resources with wisdom and purpose.

 

 

Day 6 Managing Your Finances

 

Today, let’s listen to a financial testimony from Phil Sallee:

 

“Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die:

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.

Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’

Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Proverbs 30:7-9

 

I ask myself: "Could I pray this with full sincerity?” I wouldn’t mind having riches! Actually I really want them. This inspired writer doesn’t say it is a sin to have them. But he recognizes that they are a serious danger to his soul, that riches are likely to lead him to sin. If I am honest, I don’t think I am as concerned about that danger as I should be. Jesus said as much when he said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23). Why? Money is an incredibly strong temptation to depart from trusting God. If we have much, we are likely to become attached to it and trust in it to save us rather than being fully dependent on God. If we have little, we are tempted to compromise our character to obtain it. It becomes an obsession. "If I only had…” Jesus said that we cannot love both God and money (Matt. 6:24). I think that if we are honest, even those of us who get this mostly right are continually in a heart battle to ensure that God has top priority in our lives.

 

So, how do we keep money in its proper place in our hearts? God-directed financial management starts with the right heart perspective. All of the methods and procedures for tracking our finances are worthless if we do not address the fundamental issue regarding our heart’s love of money. We must start by realizing that the money in our bank account is not actually ours. "The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). If that’s true, then it is not our right to do with our money as we please. We must manage these resources properly to honor him and have what we need to do the work he has called us to. It’s not that God doesn’t want us to have good things and be happy, but that simply isn’t his end goal. He wants to shape us for eternity. He wants our heart. If he has that, then he can provide us with true joy and happiness.

 

When I was younger I used to play a lot of Monopoly. But Monopoly money doesn’t give me the same feeling that real money gives me. I know that it isn’t “real”. I can’t take it to a dealership and use it to put a down payment on a car. I can’t take it to the bank and deposit it in my account. When the game is over, it all goes back in the box. With the right perspective, we can see that our “real” money isn’t real either. Eventually it all goes back in the box. You can’t take it with you. In the same way that Monopoly money is useful only within the context of the game, our money has short-term usefulness to accomplish some of God’s purposes here on earth. Sometimes, it is the lack of money that accomplishes his will, by teaching us to depend on him. But if we try to store it up or put our trust in it, in the end, money is worthless to save us. It simply cannot bring us true happiness, or provide us anything that lasts.

 

So if money cannot save us, why is financial management important? If God gives it to us, we are entrusted to use it wisely. God will hold us responsible for how we handle our money. The way we manage our finances demonstrates our character to others. Wise management of our resources can be a witness to others of God’s provision and it allows us to show proper gratitude to God. Proper financial management reduces our stress and anxiety and allows us to enjoy what God has given us. It doesn’t show much gratitude to waste what we have been given. And most importantly, God uses our willingness to trust him with our finances to develop a deeper faith connection to him. I know that for me personally, I have learned a lot about trust by giving my money anxieties to God and waiting for his provision. Money is part of our faith journey.

 

Over the years, we have learned about some practical tools and approaches that have greatly helped us to better manage our money:

 

  • Create a balanced budget before each month begins

Make a complete plan for how you will spend your money before you spend it.
  • Envelope system

Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated. For some budget categories that consistently go over budget, simply pull out cash and put in an envelope. Commit to only spending out of the envelope.

  • Use online banking and budget software.

Ok, who has the time to enter in all those receipts? Just about every bank now has a way to download your expenses. You can use spreadsheets, budgeting software or apps to track your monthly spending. Currently we use YNAB (You Need a Budget). There is also: Quicken, MS Money, Xcel, Dave Ramsey’s “Every Dollar Budget,” etc. We do the best when we download and track multiple times monthly. If we wait until the end to see where we have overspent, the damage is already done.


  • Savings “buckets”

I think this is a good way to think about the money you have in the bank. Use your budgeting software to track the money in savings, not just the money you spend. Put money aside for specific purposes each month, so when that car repair is needed or Christmas season comes, you already have money saved for that purpose. 

  • Prayer!

This one should have been first, but to make a point, it’s not. All too often we don’t start here. It is free and extremely practical. Start with this one!

  • Don’t wait until you have it together to give.

In line with what I said previously about getting our heart right, we have learned that when we waited to be in good financial shape, out of debt, etc. to give, we never seemed to gain traction. Sometimes God is waiting for us to demonstrate faith in him by giving before he provides. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)

  • Don’t do it alone.

If you are struggling, ask someone for help. Get a budget accountability partner if you are single. If you are married, do this as a team. Don’t work at odds with one another. Agree on the budget together. Submit to one another for accountability. Give each other grace. Don’t give up.

  • Establish purchase limits and waiting periods.

Set a dollar amount with your budget partner that you will not spend on a single purchase without talking with them first. You can also set a period that you must wait before making a large purchase or spending unexpected income. Give time for God to speak into a decision. Once we unexpectedly received a large bonus. As we were waiting to decide how to spend it, an unexpected bill came in that was within $50 of what God had already provided!
  • Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey

A lot of practical advice is found in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class, and these are occasionally offered at Gateway. Most of our approach follows his teachings and would take too long to list out here. If you are interested in taking a class, let us know.

 

 

 

Week 1 Time Management

Day 1 Time Management

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

 

Over the next three weeks we’re going to spend some time each morning contemplating how to use our resources with more wisdom. Specifically, this week we’re going to contemplate using our time more wisely.

 

If I’m honest, when I think of time management my first response is something like, “Oh no. Not again. That sounds like a lot of work.”

 

Ever notice that it sometimes seems hard trying to follow Jesus? It can feel difficult trying to keep our life on track, always doing what we know is right and true, obeying his commands. It is, as Jesus himself acknowledged, a narrow way. In fact, Jesus once described following him as taking up our cross. That doesn’t sound like fun. And trying to exert more discipline over our time as a starting point sounds … well, hard and a bit daunting, maybe not a literal cross, but still a lot of hard work.

 

Okay, but before we push too far in that direction, let’s be completely honest in our assessment. And if we’re going to be completely honest, we cannot forget that the alternative is also very difficult – in the long run more difficult by far. As Soren Keirkegaard reminded us, “It costs a man just as much or even more to go to hell than to come to heaven.”

 

Dallas Willard added, “To depart from righteousness is to choose a life of crushing burdens, failures, and disappointments, a life caught in the toils of endless problems that are never resolved. Here is the source of that unending soap opera, that sometime horror show known as normal human life. The ‘cost of discipleship’, though it may take all we have, is small when compared to the lot of those who don’t accept Christ’s invitation to be a part of his company in The Way of life.”

 

Today, we need to remember that we want, we need, to manage our time more wisely because in the long run it makes our life easier. This is part of what Jesus meant when he referred to the “easy” yoke. It takes effort, no doubt, but it is effort that saves us even more effort plus heartache on the back end.

 

  • Reread the verses above. Let them marinate in your mind for a moment. Consider that being “yoked” to Jesus is an image for being his disciple. Consider also that he calls it “easy and light.”
  • Spend a few minutes and give your burdens to Jesus right now. List them out and mentally hand them over to him.
  • Simply ask God to train you to be a better time manager. Watch for the beginning of his answer today.

 

 

 

Day 2 Time Management

 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Ephesians 5:15-17

 

This day matters.   What happens today impacts the rest of my life, perhaps to a very small degree or perhaps to a great degree, but to some degree without doubt. Plus, what I do today has an impact on everyone around me, perhaps to a small degree or perhaps to a great degree, but to some degree without doubt.

 

I will never get this day again. It has been given to me just this once.

 

I must be very careful about how I live it. I must be very intentional; I must be actively engaged with my own time, with my own life. I must be disciplined about how I use my time. Gordon MacDonald offered this memo to the disorganized: “If my private world is in order, it will be because I have made the daily determination to see time as God’s gift and worthy of careful investment.”

 

I know that my discipline is not the driving force behind what I accomplish. In fact, I do not have ultimate control over anything. God is the only sovereign and He is the driving force behind what I accomplish. But I also know that He will not accomplish His work through me (or my work for me) without my disciplined effort. As Father William Law reminded us, “For God has made no promises of mercy to the slothful and negligent. His mercy is only offered to our frail and imperfect, but best endeavors, to practice all manner of righteousness.”

 

  • Dedicate your day and your week to God in Jesus’ name. Accept this day from Him as a gift. Ask Him to help you use this gift well.
  • Pray for an increase in self-control. {Notice the charge is to “pray” here and not to work toward more self-control. After all, self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We can find ourselves caught in a maddening and unproductive cycle if we try harder to try harder. The key for us is to be more filled with His Spirit and self-control comes as one of the by-products of that filling.}
  • Pray for those who are on your mind and heart.
  • Give your worries and concerns to God.

 

 

 

Day 3 Time Management

 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Ephesians 5:15-17

 

  • “Be very careful how you live.” What do you need to be careful about today? (Is there a worry that could trip you up? A temptation? An emotional turmoil? Something else that could get you off track?)
  • Give that concern to God.
  • What opportunities are before you today? (At work? Physically? Home? Interactions with others?) There are also unknown opportunities awaiting you.
  • Present yourself to God. Ask Him to prepare you, to make you ready to meet these opportunities and to make the most of each one.

 

If you were in church on Sunday you will remember that “the days are evil” is a profound description of the way of the world and the overall environment in which we live our lives. We live in a world cut adrift from God’s absolute control. It is a world that is hazardous to a healthy connection with God. THIS IS WHY WE MUST MANAGE OUR TIME WELL: NOT IN ORDER TO GET MORE DONE, BUT BECAUSE THE DAYS ARE EVIL. If we keep this in mind it changes everything. Instead of trying to manage our time so that we can pursue an even more event-filled, more frantic pace, we will be trying to manage our time so that we can be more in touch with how God is moving and where He is moving and how Jesus would have us respond to those movements.

 

  • Ask God to protect you today because the days are evil.

 

 

 

Day 4 Time Management Testimony

 

Tim Eagle is as faithful with his time as anyone I know. I asked Tim to share some of his thoughts about the topic. It’s worth noting that he began by talking about how difficult managing our time is. That made me feel a little better. But he did share some observations.

 

“Two people early in my life made an impression on me on how I managed my time. The first was my father. He always said that no matter what time you need to be somewhere, plan to be there at least 5 minutes early. Because you never know what might happen: either what obstacle you might encounter or what opportunity that you might get.”

 

“The other person was my High School Band Director. When the starting time to rehearse was ’10:00’, it didn’t mean you were walking-in to the band hall and sitting down at 10:00. It meant you were in your chair, instrument together, warmed-up, and ready to play the songs at 10:00 because that’s when rehearsal began. To achieve this, you had to be in the band hall early to get everything together and be ready to play by the specified time. Since this dovetailed with my father’s mantra, it only reinforced this habit.”

 

Two things jump out at me based on what Tim shared. First of all, his thoughts immediately go to people who mentored him. I believe we all need mentors in this area. One way to get that is to read good books. I’ve given two recommendations at the end. Secondly, Tim considers punctuality to be a part of what it means to manage his time well. I’m convinced he’s right. He adds this:

 

“As I’ve grown older, the complexities and demands of life have only increased. The habit of being somewhere early, or completing something sooner, has expanded to how I can be consistently disciplined about how I manage my daily time. How am I purposeful about how I use my time? By extension of what my father and my HS Band Director taught me early in life, I increasingly felt if I honored other people’s time, and I honored how I use my time, I honored God by being a better witness of His presence in my life.”

 

After these thoughts, Tim shared three helpful hints that do not surprise any of us who know him.

 

  1. Consistency of my daily routine
  2. Checklists
  3. Sticky notes (yellow pad or on my phone)

 

Daily routine provides me with guidance and actually gives freedom to do things differently when the need arises. Let me explain.   I know that my daily routine is generally aligned around blocks of time, mostly at the same time each day. For example, I get-up at 6:00a. I exercise (when I exercise) at 6:30a. I do my quiet times at 6:30a. I eat lunch at 12:00 noon usually at one of several places so I can build relationships with those that work there. I go to small group, or a Gateway meeting, or have personal time at 7:00p   I go to bed at 10:30p. Etc. I know what I’m generally going to do each day based on this pattern. Now, this daily habit gives me the freedom to improvise within those blocks of time as the need arises to take care of something unexpected without creating undo stress.”

 

“I use checklists to help organize my time during that daily routine. I also jot tasks down on sticky notes as I think about them during the day to help me remember to do them. I’ve found if I don’t make a note of it as soon as I think about it, the many distractions that occur quickly cause me to forget it. By making note of that task, it also helps keep me accountable to myself and others. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to complete the tasks and check them off the list as the day progresses. That pattern of daily consistency helps instill in me the habit to help me accomplish the tasks that lay before me.”

 

With profound love and admiration I can genuinely say that that is irritatingJ Tim actually lives this out! I suppose that’s the point. If we’re going to manage our time well we have to have some system (checklists and sticky notes) and we have to have some routine. The first helps us stay on track; the second gives us a track to run on.  

 

  • If I asked you to share your thoughts, what would your helpful hints be? Jot them down. (Take this question seriously. It will reinforce what you already know and encourage you to own your own strengths in this area.)
  • When you are not managing your time well, do you tend toward overscheduling, drivenness and overwork or do you tend toward neglectfulness and sloth? It’s interesting that sometimes our culture actually rewards the first of those, but that is not a sustainable lifestyle and it is not what the Bible advises in the wise use of our time.
  • Plan to read a book this winter to increase your skill in this area. Two classics that are worth visiting or re-visiting are 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald.
  • Dedicate your day to God. Ask Him to show you the opportunities He wants you to meet and to give you the vision to meet them.

 

 

 

Day 5 Time Management

 

Go to the ant, you sluggard;

consider its ways and be wise!

 

It has no commander,

no overseer or ruler,

yet it stores its provisions in summer

and gathers its food at harvest.

 

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?

When will you get up from your sleep?

 

A little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands to rest—

and poverty will come on you like a thief

and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 6:6-11

 

  • Spend a few minutes ruminating on this passage. Are there (positive) lessons from an ant that you might apply to your life? (I’m serious. Think about it.)
  • Are there areas in your life that have been sluggardly? Confess this to God.
  • What have you been procrastinating? Decide when you will start
  • When you have time, check out these two Tedtalks at Ted.com:
    • “Try Something New for 30 Day” by Matt Cutts. This is only 3:27 long and it will definitely motivate you. Watch it today.
    • “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator” by Tim Urban. It’s a funny 14-minute talk that may give you some additional motivation.
  • Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People offers the following chart:

 

 

Very urgent

Not urgent

Not important

 

Quadrant 1

 

Quadrant 2

 

Very important

 

Quadrant 3

 

Quadrant 4

 

 

  • What are the activities that fall into quadrant 4 for you? Which quadrant 4 activities could you give attention to today?
  • Present yourself to God. Ask Him to prepare you, to make you ready to meet the opportunities presented to you today.
  • Ask Him to protect you.
  • One more resource. Check out this blog post when you get time: http://annvoskamp.com/2017/01/what-to-do-when-you-dont-feel-like-doing-anything-at-all/

 

 

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTED BOOKS:  

The Imitation of Christ   (by Thomas a Kempis)

The Spirit of the Disciplines  (by Dallas Willard)

Moments Together for Couples (by Dennis and Barbara Rainey) - for couples

My Utmost for His Highest (by Oswald Chambers)

Jesus Calling (by Sarah Young) - daily devotional book

Ordering Your Private World - by Gordon MacDonald

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - by Stephen R. Covey

 

 

 

 

Prayer Points from Ed

Make use of this prayer to start your day if it helps. Use the … spaces to spend a moment reflecting.

Eternal God, You are the beginning and the end of all things. You are awesome in power and glorious in beauty and goodness.

 

You have been involved with me since before I was born. This is both a sovereignty and a kindness that I cannot even imagine. You have been pursuing, and protecting, wooing and nurturing, guiding and directing. I am mindful of Your longstanding work in my story …

 

I recognize today that You are the driving force in my life! I welcome that truth and I lean into the freedom and humility it produces in me. I pray for Your purposes for me today. I pray that I would be for others today. I pray that my agenda today would be Your agenda for me.   I submit myself right now. I give you my decisions today. I give you my time today. I give you my relationships today. I give you my body today. I give you my money today. I give you my needs today …

 

Lord God, You are the only source of real life and security and meaning. I confess that I have tried to put myself in Your place through self-salvation projects and today I relinquish all attempts to save myself.   I acknowledge Jesus Christ, fully God yet made fully man – the exact representation of God’s being.

 

Right now, I repent. I turn away from all that is not of You. And I leave everything else behind in order to follow Jesus Christ.   I am mindful of his life, his character and his sacrifice for me … I choose to begin today with that before me.

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