Steward your time


What does it mean to be a good Steward of your time? 

I was pressed with this question all week as I prepared to speak at Oasis (our college ministry here in Brookings) last Sunday.  For the last few weeks we have been studying how to be a good steward and I was looking to share my thoughts with the college students on how to manage time well.  I felt in order to really address my thoughts, I first needed to set a precedent that effectively explained stewardship. To steward is to take care of something that is not ours; it's something we are to manage or look after.  For instance, what we do with our time. In order to steward our time well, we have to first understand that the very essence of time is not ours.  We have been given an allotted amount of time by a God who is time.  Now, I’m not going to break down the omnipresence of God because I fear I wouldn't do it justice, but it is something that is fun to think about.  

I think in general, time can become a very prized possession. Why you ask? Time actually has a lot of characteristics that make it appealing; it can heal and fly, it’s something we can steal, make, take, and save. It is something we often waste, spend, and lose. Employers have found that time is often a better incentive than money.  Companies are now offering more vacation time and better working hours then pay raises. People want more time and know they don't have enough of it.

So then my question still remains, now that we have explained stewardship and time,  How do we steward our time well?   I wanted to look at a James 4:13 to give reference.  

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

For those of you who know me, one of my favorite past times is backpacking and hiking.  Now, I have learned a lot since my first hiking trip, but initially I made a lot of rookie mistakes.  On my very first trip, I carried a party grill and canned spaghetti.  This was not a good moment. For those of you who don't backpack, this is a very amateur mistake and I paid the price of quite a heavy load to carry over the course of my trip. Then I started getting into lightweight backpacking where we would walk for 10-20 miles a day with all of our essentials on our back.  We would always compete to see who would have the lightest pack, needless to say I still never won. 

While I was in college, I had a pretty busy schedule so I always looked forward to our school breaks.  I would usually set out some goals that I wanted to accomplish on my break like I wanted to read more, pray more, or be more intentional with my thoughts.   So when I started hiking, I would always bring a book with me.  I planned to read it every night before going to bed.  I don't mind reading and I knew that I would have a lot more free time while on the trail, or so I thought.   Needless to say after a 15 mile day, my body became very tired.  We would get to our campsite, set up tents, make dinner, laugh about our daily adventures and then head to bed. I would do just about everything I could to try and read a chapter a night but I always ended up falling asleep with my headlight on.  Now, this caused a little bit of an issue because my headlamp would be dead by day 2 and I now was carrying a book around with me everywhere we hiked.  This book would add a couple pounds to my pack and then became dead weight.  You see, I fell under the tension of trying to instill new habits in my life during our break, but not creating complete lifestyle changes. I never read before bed while in college because I would fall asleep, so what led me to think that I would do something radically different on this trip that I wasn't doing in my day-to-day life? How could I forecast new habits on tomorrow when I wasn't even being intentional with them today?

Now lets reflect back on James 4:13 real fast.  He blatantly says to not claim what tomorrow will hold because in reality, we have no idea.  What gives us the authority to claim any truth about tomorrow?  James claims that “as it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes, all such boasting is evil”.  Man that is powerful. I can’t think of how many times I have allowed my procrastination to hinder what God could have done through me.  

So the thought I want to leave us with today is not to live in regret over what we have not done, but it is calling us to action.  James is telling us to have a right perspective on our lives (we are but a mist), and when we sense God calling us to action, we need to do it.  Instead of telling someone that we will pray for them later, Why not take that moment and DO IT?  If we KNOW the good we ought to do, then we need to be obedient and DO IT. Don't prepare to carry the dead weight of a book around tomorrow; start reading the book today.  

- Dave

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