For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him. ESV Ecclesiastes 8:6
On Fridays I take stock of my possessions, money and time. One of the hardest things for me to manage is my time. As my marriage develops, my family grows, and the church makes more disciples, it seems my to-do list stays overflowing. So often I find myself tackling numerous projects through the day, yet getting nothing of value done. Building a list of the things that needs to be done helps, but often everything seems important. Over the years, I’ve found the Merrill Covey Matrix seen above to be one of the best solutions to prioritizing my list and keeping me focused.
In short, things to the left are more urgent and things toward the top are more important. Often, we cave to the urgent, and spend our time chasing urgent things that really aren’t important (quadrant 3). After an exhausting chase of these urgent (yet not important) things, I often want to “reward” myself with some of the not urgent and not important things on my list (like reading the news, or watching a show on Netflix). At the end of the day, I find I expended great energy and didn’t further the mission God called me on. Solomon’s wisdom is true: our trouble lies heavy upon us!
Part of our spiritual formation involves making the best use of the time. We don’t know how many more days we have on earth. We can’t be like the rich fool who wanted to spend his time tearing down barns to build bigger ones, not realizing that night his soul would be required of him. For that reason, I try to recognize the things on my list that involve eternity…usually relationships with my wife, kids and potential disciples. These are things that are important, even if they aren’t urgent at the time. Spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading are vitally important, but so often ignored because they aren’t perceived as urgent. Responding to texts always seems urgent, but in reality, they usually only distract us from the important things (do you even remember who you texted today?). I hope this grid will help you maintain your time in a way that pleases God. There is a time and way for everything, and this process helps us determine that.