Michael L. Ford, Th.D.
It has been suggested time is the only
possession, we really have. But do we have it? It is some-thing that
passes through our fingers like sand through an hourglass. We can never
recover it, add to it, or conserve it for a later date. We do not own
time, we only exist in it. A brief portion of time has been allocated to
us for our sojourn on earth by the One who “inhabiteth eternity.” Like
our very souls He is the owner of our allotted time. Time is, in the
final analysis, something we have been given a stewardship of and an
accounting for. For we all must appear at the throne of God to give an
account of the things done in the flesh. Whether one appears at the
Mercy Seat Judgement or at the Great White Throne Judgement, the
accounting will be about how we used this brief period of time. Whether
Jesus Christ and God’s service was the purpose of our lives, or the
point of rebellion. The stewardship of time should be very important to
It should be obvious to the reader that
this counselor believes that how we spend our time reveals who or what
is truly god of our lives. If we spend time polishing the car or with a
boat when we should be at church, or on visitation, or studying and
praying, our grown up toys are our gods. If we spend several hours each
day watching television, why then television is our god, and we worship
a one-eyed monster. If our time is spent on self-indulgence, then self
is our god. If we allow others to use and control our lives, they have
become our gods. The word of God reveals that He is determined that we
shall have no other gods taking precedence over Him. It has been truly
said that He has determined that “if He is not Lord of all, He is not
Lord at all.”
Often people make the statement that
they do not have enough time. Yet, other people about them may be doing
and accomplishing much more than they can seem to get done. What is the
difference? We each have the same amount of time, twenty-four hours each
day. We have made decisions, some of which rule our daily activities for
many years, about what we will do with our allotted time. How a person
spends their time testifies to what he considers important.
It is plain we need to give attention
to managing our time well. A method needs to be developed to first gain
control of a life that is out of control in its use of time. The flesh
is always at war with the soul since the fall of man. The spirit yearns
god-ward. The flesh is carnal sold under the sin of rebellion to God’s
ownership of our lives. Evaluating our time is the evaluation of our
stewardship of that resource the Lord has given to us. We should pray,
“Oh Lord, teach us to number our days.” Then our method of review needs
to be periodically reapplied to evaluate whether or not the flesh has
sought to circumvent the decisions of the mind and soul over time.
Establish a daily time record where you account for your time in
five-minute increments. (Truckers do this continually, this is not an
Keep your daily time record for a period of a month to take in the
monthly demands upon your time.
Make yourself a daily time record sheet, duplicate it for a months
supply and keep it on a clipboard or in a folder.
Keep the folder nearby continually.
Use abbreviations you understand in your personal note making.
Activities of extended time may be indicated by a word. If you have
a form where the time is shown in segments, like a trucker’s log, you can
show blocks of time with a straight line.
Complete the daily record faithfully for the month.
At the end of each day do a daily time analysis. Identify
activities on a summary sheet. This includes your time spent eating,
telephone calling, writing, witnessing, studying, counseling, etcetera.
Tabulate number of hours spent in each activity.
Now evaluate your time objectively and determine what your
priorities should have been
Which activities involved too much time and why?
Which activities did you give too little time to and why?
Which activities do you need to remove from your day?
Which activities do you need to pass on to someone else?
What did you not do that you should add to your day?
Determine how much time you are wasting. In unnecessary travel. In
changing from job to job, function to function, and so forth
Each day, week, or monthly groups of activities that can be grouped
together to be accomplished days and hours should be done so.
Group things done in the same location to be done at the same time
as much as possible.
Evaluate trips so the maximum result is obtained from each
excursion from your activity center.
List everything that must be scheduled at various times because of
the activities of others.
Categorize activities that must be scheduled in sequences.
Determine your peak productivity times and schedule functions that
require high performance for those times.
When asked about the way we should then live in a
world expecting the eminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have this
advice to give. In holiness and abandonment to the Lord, we should live
as if there is no tomorrow in this world to take account of. In
preparation for service and utilization of the blessings bestowed upon
us, we should number our days as if the allotted three score and ten
will be ours to use productively. This means also that if the Lord gives
us strength to endure past days of labor to serve as counsels to those
that follow, we need to also have prepared for this eventuality as well.
Each day that we live should not be
approached haphazardly. Though some have a talent for taking “gut
reaction” and turning it into success, most of us find true achievement
elusive without planning and preparing for it. The suspicion lingers
with me that those with a talent for reactive response to “life
situations” would also achieve more if their lives were lived under the
discipline of planning.
The greatest example of planning is the
Almighty God Himself. The Creation is evidence to the most marvelous
design imaginable. But the pinnacle of all planning is that purpose He
purposed in Christ, and which He has worked out from the foundations of
the beginnings until the day when he demonstrates His righteousness and
brings all things together in Himself. Then all will bow and acknowledge
Him, among other things, as the Great Planner as the grand scheme of
Creation is consummated and brought into the eternal realm. Who can beat
that kind of planning?
The Value of Long Range Planning
- Some things need
to be scheduled several years in advance. Five and six year calendars
are available. Long term planning is not goal setting. It is planning
necessary for the accomplishment of goals already set into the context
of a lifetime.
- Planning a yearly
or thirteen month calendar. Preparation on a continuing revolving
calendar should mean there is never a shortfall of resources set aside
when the time comes for an annually recurring event to take place. Also,
setting up an annual calendar helps to plan for expected needs in a
- Plan monthly.
Previewing for the coming month helps to begin filling in the finer
details. It also reviews to ensure that nothing has been missed.
Short Term Planning
- The weekly
filling in of details means you can complete your schedule as completely
- Time should
always be allocated to care for the unexpected. (It rarely is enough
when the unexpected occurs. Just think where you are if you do not have
a breathing space.)
Take a little time on Saturday or Sunday to review your plans as
accurately as you can.
Prioritize your events, appointments, and activities. When
something has to give, remember your priorities.
Give yourself time limits. There is a principle that work expands
to fill the time allotted it.
Do not be neglectful of family time, free time, and so forth.
- Daily review your
weekly schedule-plan the day.
Review your priorities. Are they still the same?
Itemize your things to do. This functional checklist should be in a
state of development and refinement as you go through the planning cycle.
Even things to do have a priority.
Never hold on to things that need to be delegated.
When a “thing to do” is on hold, or you are waiting on someone to
complete their part. Use the time, either on the next item, or a thing to
do that can be fitted in to the available time.
Roll over leftovers into the next day. Evaluate why you did not
accomplish all items. Do not work over for things that are not absolutely
- Give activities
that require your attention, full attention.
- Moments of mental
rest can handle two functions.
On the phone, on hold, go through junk mail. Sort out what you want
to look at. Scan what might be interesting. Fill the wastebasket.
Traveling. Play tapes. Self Improvement, Bible, and preaching.
Don’t Delay Things Because You Don’t Enjoy Them!!!
- Five minute jobs
that are not enjoyed can be put off until they seriously damage your
- Assign difficult
jobs as high a priority as feasible. Remember what tasks you should be
handled during your peak cycles.
- Annotate your
list for each job accomplished so you can visibly see you are making
Managing Your Schedule
- God owns your
time, commit it to Him.
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” Matthew 6:33
Times are God’s hand. Psalm 31:15
Redeem the time. Colossians 4: 5
- Whatever governs
or rules your time is your god. Time is given to us to use. If we misuse
time, then Jesus Christ is not being given Lordship of our time.
- Do not allow your
schedule to become your god either. An attitude of flexibility allows
you to meet the unexpected successfully.
Accept the fact interruptions will come.
Interruptions can be divinely appointed opportunities or part of
the warfare of the believer. Pray for discernment.
effectiveness and fruitfulness requires self discipline.
Goal Setting and Planning to Accomplish Goals
Managing time so work demands
or assignments are met efficiently is not goal setting. What the
efficient management of time can do is allow us to plan for the attain-ment
of the goals of our lives. This requires that the individual does have
clearly defined goals for the various areas of their life, and that
planning is always done with those goals uppermost in their mind. People
are supposed to be goal oriented. They were designed by their Creator to
be goal-oriented beings. Without goals, even an organized time manager
is a person who is drifting efficiently in an aimless direction. He will
never achieve satisfaction in life, no matter what is accomplished,
because he is never sure he has attained a single goal in
In a sense goal setting, goal
planning, and time management are like some card games. Let me give you
an example with a solitaire game called Free Cell. I encourage you to
take a deck of cards and lay out the board so you can visualize what I
am talking about:
In Free Cell you have a
board layout of 52 cards arranged randomly in 8 horizontal lines. From
left to right the first 4 vertical columns (down from the horizontal)
contain 7 cards. The next 4 columns contain 6 cards in vertical columns.
You have above on the left of the layout 4 imaginary places that can be
filled temporarily with single cards, taken out of the columns below,
and four places on the right that are to be used to arrange the four
suits into ascending stacks beginning with the aces. Theoretically all
random arrangements of the cards on the board constitute a solvable
problem. That is life. Every life has the capacity for success.
The goal is to get the
cards arranged into their suits in the upper right hand spaces. Think of
this as the combined achievement of the series of goals set during life
that go into the accomplishment of lifetime objects. You can even name
each suit for a particular goal. For instance the spades suit might be
building a financial position that will allow you to do what you want to
do. Hearts can be spiritual goals, and diamonds could be familial goals,
and so on.
To get your goals filled
in each area (fill the suits) you may use the four imaginary temporary
spaces (upper left) to hold single cards as you manipulate cards in the
eight rows. Think of these blank spaces as places where you store
resources and where you defer actions that you do not or should not
accomplish at the moment.
You are trying to take
the cards and move them where the can be brought up in order into the
permanent stacks (safely into your completed goals category), ultimately
winning the game. If you manipulate the cards so you can no longer move
cards where you are placing a number one lower and of a different color
than the one you have above it in the eight columns, you lose. To win,
you must plan how you are going to achieve your goal of getting all the
suits together, without being trapped without a move.
Do you get the picture? Life
requires a focus on the goal. Sometimes you have to deal with detours to
get where you are headed, but without a clear goal, it is impossible to
get back on track because you do not know what track is the right one.
Free spaces in the Free Cell game represent jobs we can put off for a
time or resources we can set up for a future endeavor. We can never put
of too much or save up too much without hurting the effort we were
trying to enable.
Play the game of Free Cell.
Think about the philosophy of the game I have described. Develop your
own insights into the game
Goal Setting: Planning to be Goal Oriented
The Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated
the goal orientation of the godhead. He took His whole time on earth and
kept it focused on one ultimate goal. The ultimate goal was to bring
salvation to mankind by the satisfaction of God’s justice.
There were a whole series of
intermediate goals that had to be realized along the way. His whole life
had to satisfy every Biblical prophecy related to His coming. He had to
preach the gospel of the Kingdom to Israel and see it rejected. He had
to overcome temptation that man is subject to. He had to accomplish
these intermediate goals, each one time. Nothing could deter Him.
Discouragement and depression takes over
an individual’s life when there are no clearly defined goals, ending in
ultimate objectives from which a person in their old age can look back
upon their lives and be satisfied.
One of the saddest groups of people in
the world are pastors who have no ultimate vision for their lives and
service to God. They may serve a church and want it to grow. But that is
ephemeral. They have no clear plan that they can follow to get there.
Also they often have no vision for themselves beyond the moment.
Deacons, often define their ambitions related to a job or profession,
and do not include the church they may well serve for a lifetime. Other
people shape goals tied to work or children, and find themselves lost
when those things are gone. No matter who you are or what you do, the
ultimate goals for your life must be shaped around the total you.
This might be surprising to you, but the
same principles that apply to good leadership in your business
enterprises will also work in application to your life. In business as
in your life you need a clear vision of God that puts His view of what
you are about at the head. In that vision of the mind of God, establish
goals that fulfill that vision.
How to put goal
accomplishing plans together:
Establish the vision. All areas might not be immediately clear at
the same time, but if you are really pursuing the mind of God in this,
your ultimate formulation of a composite whole will be complimentary.
Define priorities. What things are most important? What should be
seen as paramount? What even can be sacrificed to accomplish greater
goals? For instance, if a goal is financial, and it is necessary to other
goals, then the foundation for those other goals must be laid by the right
amount of financial success. Suppose you have goals to attain to a certain
level of physical fitness, but you have more important goals that relate
to time with family. You might find it more reasonable to decide not to
train as much in the gym as needed for your physical goal in order to
reach the more important goal with your family.
Test objective. Goals must satisfy at least five tests if they are
to qualify as realistic. These five tests ask if they are:
Inclusive of Significant Others
Plan definite steps to reach goals that stand up to testing.
Establish subordinate goals consistent with you life vision. The
subordinate goals should be classified as of three types:
Short Term Goals- What I will do this
week, this month, this year.
Intermediate Goals- What I will aim to do
during the next one to five years.
Long Range Goals- What I plan to be
achieving in five to ten years or longer.
The total of this represents your
program for action. It is only as good as your commitment to
it. If your program is based on an
honest belief you are following the will of God, your
commitment should be unwavering.
a. Periodically plan to stop and take
stock of all that has ensued since you started out on the road of life:
How have things changed?
What do you know now that you did not
know then? Consider that question in terms of yourself and others.
b. Each time a new door seems to open,
stop and reassess what it means:
How does this effect your vision of the
mind of God?
What will it likely mean to your goals?
Is it the Lord opening doors or is it a
Accept some modification
There are verities on which we can base
what we believe in life.
There are uncertainties. Problems, pain,
and trouble come into the live of all. They will make you better or
bitter. They will bring you closer to your Lord or drive you away. You
decide how these will impact your life.
A Single Ultimate Goal: When you come to the end of life, you
should be able to look back at the total of your life and be satisfied,
secure in the knowledge you have lived to glorify God.
Enlisting Others for Time Management
Other people are necessary to your achievement
of Time Management. This is true first of all because the value they
place on your time will determine the respect they accord the way they
take up your time. For instance, an individual who constantly dawdles,
delays, and visits when it is time to start the Sunday School class is
not just being a jerk. He or she is demonstrating the value they assign
to the teacher’s preparation, skill, and time; not to mention the
subject matter being covered. The same is true on the job and in the
home. People become interested in participating positively when they see
real value in doing so. The individual who needs others cooperation to
achieve efficient Time Management and reach Goals must convince the
people, whose cooperation they need, that involvement is beneficial.
Key to enlisting others is the
leadership style of the person who wants cooperation. The individual
whose persona conveys a message of sufficiency, authoritarianism, or
autocracy will soon find themselves on their own. This is especially
true in situations where voluntary participation is needed. But with the
prevailing attitude toward the workplace in this day, it is also true in
business. We can guess that these models have probably never been truly
successful in really enlisting willful and dedicated commitments to
helping another person achieve their ends.
Neither will laissez faire or
democratic styles or attitudes in leadership get what you want in terms
of cooperation. The laissez faire style is lacking in a commitment of
its own and democratic styles can see the goals taken away from you and
changed. The only truly effective style is one of personal involvement
where the individual is enlisted to become personally involved in the
achievement of your goals. They take your goals as their own.
How is this individual enlistment of
people into your goals accomplished? Basically put this is done through
an investment of time and interest in the person you need with the hope
that investment will return a dividend of dedication to the service you
need them to perform.
Principles involved in the investment of
yourself in others to reach your goals.
Choose people who have the capacity to succeed.
People who have had a history of success
in other endeavors are good possibilities for recruitment. But past
success does not guarantee future success. A person interested in resting
on their laurels has all their success behind them.
Do not be afraid to use modern testing methods to confirm or
dispute your assessment of an individual.
Do not be afraid to utilize people who are in the beginning of
their service life. But do be prepared to accept the mistakes of their
Choose people you are going to feel comfortable with.
Remember these are folks that you are
going to involve yourself with daily. Personality conflicts will detract
from you reaching your goals. If you are truly people oriented and the
person you are thinking of recruiting grates on you, the likelihood exists
they also similarly affect others.
Convey to them your vision.
This does not mean that you need to
communicate your entire set of plans and goals. You convey that part of
the vision they will be needed to participate in.
The picture must be real enough so they
can envision for themselves the important role they will play in the
The picture must be dynamic enough so
they will be sold on the value of the vision.
The picture must be flexible enough so
they feel they can contribute to the vision.
Let them know exactly what you need
from them so your time is freed for other matters. It is not usually
good to convey any attitude that what they will be accomplishing is
somehow any less important than what you will be doing. The truth is the
responsibilities they will handle are probably vital to you. It is just
that they are delegable
Invest in the development of the individual.
Train people for success, because you
have picked people worth investing in.
All investment does not have to be
oriented to the current job. Convey to the individual that you are
interested, even committed to their growth in potential.
Never resent people leaving you for
better opportunity. They are likely to send you other opportunities and
people in the future.
Provide positive feedback
Communicate your (genuine) appreciation
for their assistance, dedication, etceteras regularly.
Establish formal routine follow ups
where suggestion for improvement can be made and suggestions can be
heard on a one to one basis that is non-threatening.
Some rewards should be promotions:
By position (title and supervision responsibility)
By responsibility (job description and area of duty coverage)
Some rewards should be financial.
By permanent pay raise
By temporary Superior Performance Pay (6 mos. To year, renewable)
By temporary Proficiency Pay (qualification standard, time limited,
By paid time off/vacation.
Some rewards should be recognition.
Recognition parking, etc.
Prominent photographic displays.
Note: All rewards should be public and
promoted as an inducement to others.
Replace those who do not meet expectations as quickly as possible
after it becomes obvious they cannot or will not help you to meet your
Delay hinders the performance of those
committed to your success.
Delay puts others perception of your
commitment to the goals in jeopardy.
Delay puts your commitment to the goals
Do not appear to others angry,
spiteful, or vindictive about people that you have to remove.
Communicate genuine sorrow about the necessity of having to lose
Be careful of taking people back.
They may be secretly antagonistic to your success and goals.
They may feel you could not succeed without them.
They should not come back to the position they left.
(Entry level positions are usually best.)
Be clear about why they were allowed to return. This must be clear
to you and to them.
Document reentry counseling.
Note: It is generally inadvisable to
allow someone removed for cause to return.