Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Achieving a God-led Schedule

Photo by Poulsen taken from

This word seems to pop up in my thoughts throughout the year, and though I continually strive to achieve it, honestly, I'm not sure I ever have. Or ever will. I'm not sure I even know exactly what that looks like. 

Because life happens and schedules change. Loved ones get sick, deadlines hit, friends need support. 

My former boss, Tiffany Colter, the Writing Career Coach, often says, "Life is a pendulum." In other words, it swings and sways from busy to... um... Less busy? For writers, this is doubly true. When deadlines loom or a book releases, things get crazy. Many writers will lock themselves in their office, emerging only for an occasional scoop of peanut butter and shot of sugar-laden caffeine. 

But then, they reach "the end" and everything slows down, and they begin to re-emerge into the land of the living. It's then their neighbors do a double take. "She's alive," they say, wishing they hadn't called the FBI, suggesting they investigate said author's disappearance. Because no, their spouse was not digging a grave in their backyard at 5am. He truly was doing yard work. In the wee hours of the morning, because sleeping in is impossible for him. :/ 

They say time is our most valuable resource, and as such, it must be guarded and used intentionally. Prayerfully. Even in--especially in--the busy. 

Years ago I read something in a book, or maybe I heard it in a sermon. Regardless, the truth of the statement really resonated: You're always going to have to cheat somewhere. 

Let me unpack this: Our time is our most valuable and most limited resource. Each day, we will encounter more ways to use our time than we have hours in our day. And each day, we'll have to cheat somewhere. We can cheat by default, allowing what feels immediate to rob us of what we know is imperative. Or we can be intentional, prioritizing each moment, knowing we will have to let something go, maybe a lot of somethings. And being okay with that. 

But there are two areas we absolutely can't afford to cheat in: our relationship with Christ and our family. 

Years ago, I read A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George, a highly successful and
influential writer. In it, Elizabeth encouraged women to minister to their family first. For example, when baking cookies for a neighbor, she'd make a special batch specifically for her loved ones. When serving a meal to a church family in crisis, she always gave her family the best portions. Because she never wanted her loved ones to feel pushed aside or undervalued. 

Yesterday I spent the day listening to two of the most effective and influential leaders in modern Christendom, Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, and during the last session, Andy shocked me by sharing the following: When his kids were young, he left the office each day by 4pm and determined not to work evenings. He's a pastor, a job that requires insanely long hours, and routinely, incredibly unpredictable hours. Pastors rarely work a 9-5. It's more like a 9-12, 1-9; 9-9; 7-5... 

You get the idea. But despite this, and despite incredible pressure to the contrary I'm sure, Andy guarded his time and chose not to cheat his most precious, most important relationships. The result? 

His ministry and influence has exploded. Because increase and results aren't up to us. They never have been and never will be. 

I love this quote, spoken by Reality Church's senior pastor, Lance Burch, last Sunday: "You can't force God's hand or sabotage His will."(You can listen to the entire sermon HERE.) What we can do, however, is listen for His guidance then follow wholeheartedly, courageously, intentionally, in whatever direction He leads, leaving the results and other people's expectations to Him. 

Because other people's expectations regarding how we should use our time might (probably will) differ greatly from how God is leading us to use it. 

Photo by Unsplash taken from
I don't always know what this looks like, and I doubt I'll ever figure this balance-time-management thing out, but I know I'll do much better by trying than simply allowing life to happen. By being intentional in what areas I choose to guard and what ones I'll cheat. And I'll rest, knowing God's got it all worked out and will perfect that which concerns me. 

What about you? What areas might you have to cheat in order to avoid cheating in other areas? How can you be intentional regarding how you spend your most valuable resource, time? Consider listing your priorities and scheduling your day accordingly. In what ways have you managed to find more balance, and what have been your greatest challenges in that regard? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!

1 comment:

  1. I appreciated this, Jennifer. Trying to fit in so many things in the day, feels like I'm spinning my wheels, not getting anywhere, really. I'll try not to cheat God, the church, my family...these are most important. :-)