Oh man, this topic. So challenging. I often found that in the military, even more so than money, time was my most precious commodity. While it may be hard to kick the habit of watching three hours of TV a day, it is relatively easy to discern that getting coffee with one of your friends who may not know Jesus should be a priority over your television show. But what about when your job in the military keeps you super busy and you are involved in your church’s weekly gathering and a separate Biblestudy and you find yourself without any time to reach out to your friends and your neighbors who do not know Jesus? Now it becomes harder to know what to do. We know that the military is a mission field and we know that our God-given profession is be disciple-makers (Matthew 28), so how do we balance all of these roles and responsibilities?
I think many of us (both in and out of the military) can relate! Here are a few specific examples from my own life –
- During my four years at the U.S. Naval Academy I had to find time for (in no particular order) sports, military leadership positions, leading a Biblestudy, getting A’s in my classes, getting involved in the local church, Baptist Collegiate Ministry meetings, dating relationships, staying connected with family, eating healthy…and oh ya, sleeping!
- On my first Navy ship I had to balance running a division of 25 Sailors (without a Senior Enlisted to help me for most of the time), working with my Sailors, fellow Junior Officers, and my boss(es), standing watch 5 hours every 20 hours during a seven month deployment, qualifying for new watch stations and earning my Surface Warfare Officer Pin, eating healthy, working out, staying in touch with family, cleaning the house, running errands, spending time with my husband, reading my Bible, going to church and Biblestudy…and oh ya, sleeping!
Even now that I am out of the military, I have had to fight becoming too busy. Learning to balance working in ministry and building many new relationships with college ladies and women in my church requires a lot of emotional, mental, and physical energy for a person like me who needs quiet time to recharge. AND with my husband back from deployment, I want to make sure I have a lot of time and emotional energy to be with him!
Reflecting on all of this, I realize that I so often become frustrated or overwhelmed because I only have 24 hours in the day to work with. While on the surface, this frustration may seem harmless, there are bigger heart issues actually at play… did God mess up when he only gave me 24 hours a day to work with? Or is God setting me up for failure by asking me to do more than is possible in 24 hours?
The answer to these deep questions is absolutely not, and God has recently been teaching me how I have had an improper view of time for many years. I certainly don’t have this all figured out, but as one busy person to another, I invite you to join me in seeing what the Lord has been teaching me lately regarding time management.
Since this is such an important topic, I am going to take a couple of blog entries to unpack it. Here is the outline:
- Part 1a: Why am I so busy?
- Part 1b: Why am I so busy? (continued)
- Part 2: Let’s get practical and make a plan
- Part 3: How Jesus handles distractions and deviations from the plan
- Part 4: Making time for a Sabbath
So let’s get started with part 1 – Why am I so busy?
God created only 24 hours in each day, he ordained how many days would be in a year, and he determines how many years we will live on this earth. With that in mind, let’s look to our perfect example, Jesus – he was alive for about 33 years, and he spent about 3 of those years doing ministry. He spoke to large crowds during that time, but he spent the majority of his time with twelve men and out of those twelve men, he focused his energy on three men! And this is Jesus who was perfect and had all wisdom regarding how to manage his time. So why do we so often feel overwhelmed? Why do we feel like we have to be everything for everyone? For many of us high-achieving, military folks, we are already very efficient with our time, and we have learned to prioritize good things like academics, exercise, good nutrition, and healthy relationships. Yet we still struggle with time-management! So the question then becomes – “What thinking creates the pressure to do more than God expects me to do?”
The Porterbrook Network “Missional Community Life” workbook identifies some common answers to these questions and then confronts these answers with Gospel truths. Let’s dig in.
Reason 1: “I am busy because I need to earn or save enough money”
Gospel truth: God alone is my joy and comfort
Can money buy happiness? Maybe we don’t care about having a big house or a fancy car but do we find peace and security in a large savings or retirement account? Many of us Christian ladies would say no, but our actions say otherwise. Let’s remind ourselves of what Scripture has to say about this.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20
In the words of King Solomon who was arguably the most wealthy and wise person to ever live – “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this is also vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10
“As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.” Ecclesiastes 5:15
Paul shares with the church in Philippi where he has found true joy and contentment – “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
As easy as it is to be focused on building comfort and security here on earth, Jesus wants us to keep the end game in mind. The Gospel teaches us that for those who follow Jesus, our lives will be marked with suffering and hardship NOT with prosperity. BUT, to those who have faith in Jesus, we know that one day, we will receive an eternal reward in heaven that will never perish or decay, and this reward will make all of the suffering we experienced on earth appear light and momentary (2 Cor 4:17). Furthermore, we have no need to fear the suffering that we will face on earth, because we know that Christ is with us. He will walk with us, giving us strength and contentment, through times of abundance AND times of need.
Reason 2: “I am busy because otherwise things get out of control”
Gospel truth: God alone is my provider
If something is wrong, we have to fix it! It is our responsibility to come up with a solution to every problem, right? My boss certainly thinks so. While it is good to fight for justice, to work towards solutions to problems in the workplace, and to love and help our friends, we are not God and we are ultimately not the solution – only God can bring true justice, healing, and peace. Porterbrook says “We are limited. We are NOT indispensable.” Yikes! That is a hard lesson to learn. Quick anecdote – at my last command in the Navy, I was in charge of “fixing” many manpower and administrative systems that were riddled with inefficiencies. I poured so much heart and time into my job and I was highly praised by the leadership at my command. In fact, many high-ranking Naval officers tried very hard to convince me to stay in the Navy when I was in the process of submitting my separation paperwork. Despite their protests, I decided to leave the Command and separate from the Navy – there was much lamenting (at least that is how my prideful self remembers it). Fast forward to a year later…I ended up chatting with a previous coworker who was still at that Command. I asked him how things were going (expecting to hear that everything had fallen apart since I left) and he told me that things were better than ever! The Command continued to excel and grow, and he was really enjoying working there! Ugg! I am ashamed to say that really hurt to hear – I made so many sacrifices for my job in the Navy and yet they got along just fine when I left. This was a hard lesson I needed to learn – the only person who is truly indispensable is Jesus! God is my provider. He is without limitation, and he does not ask us to do more than we can do within a 24 hour day. God is in control, and he will provide the solutions and the answers.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:25-33
The Bible is full of reminders that God provides for his children. God did not spare His only son in order to show his love for us, so why would he then fail to provide what we need to live and flourish here on earth? God might not always give us what we want or what we think we need, when we think we need it, but because of the cross, we can be reminded that God’s love for us is infinite, and he is willing and able to give us all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
In an effort to not make this blog entry too long, we are going to stop here for now. I encourage you to pray and reflect over these responses and ask the Lord to reveal any lies that you are believing. He alone is our joy and our provider!
Sneak peak for the next entry in this series…we will be talking about the additional common responses to the question of “What thinking creates the pressure to do more than God expects me to do?” and then hear what the Bible has to say:
Reason 3: “I am busy because I need to get things right”
Gospel truth: God alone is my glory
Reason 4: “I am busy because of other people’s expectations”
Gospel truth: God alone is my Master
Reason 5: “I am busy because I need to prove myself”
Gospel truth: God alone is my Savior!
Post by Brynn Gray