This post was written by Stephanie Williams and taken from the 3DM leadership blog. It has been adapted slightly in the formatting, but all content is original and unchanged.
Have you ever had something dawn on you in a way that hit you like a ton of bricks?
This was my experience just a few years ago. Like many of you, I had realized that I wanted my life to be oriented toward what God was doing all around me. I wanted to step into the Kingdom of God in my neighborhood and work place. I was asking,”God what are you doing? How should I respond?” But there was a problem. I realized two things:
1) I wasn’t stopping long enough to listen to what God was saying.
2) Even if I were to hear God’s voice audibly inviting me to participate with what God is doing… I wouldn’t have time to respond.
The margin just wasn’t there.
I had filled my life with so many things – many of them wonderful things! But there was no way to be able to participate with God if I did’t have time to listen or respond.
Bad time management is a huge barrier to mission.
“Talk to that neighbor? I’m already running late!”
“Listen to someone share their story? Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
“Follow God’s leading in my workplace? Wait… God is moving at my office? I almost forgot!”
Whether we naturally have a more planning-oriented personality or a more spontaneous personality. Most of us living in North America are in a very time-structured world. Schools, workplaces, transportation systems, etc. are nearly all highly structured in their reference to time. The result is that people of all personality types are thrust into a schedule that they may feel they have very little control over.
The reality is: If you don’t manage your time… someone else or something else will.
That’s how we find ourselves wondering how we got here, with lives so full and disorganized we can’t pause to look and listen for a God moving in our midst.
I’ve spent hours reading and listening to time management blogs, podcasts and books. Millions of people learn about how to manage their time so they can be more successful in business or happier in their lives. If they have learned small tricks in order to make more money, shouldn’t we employ that wisdom in order to participate in the Kingdom of God?
Here are a few of the many practices that have influenced me in recent years:
1. Take your ordinary activities and insert intentionally
Often when we think about mission we immediately think about how we need to add things to our already packed schedules. Instead – reorient yourself towards seeing what God is doing around you in the spaces you are already in.
- Set your phone to vibrate to remind to you ask God what he is doing in your work place.
- Use your commute to dwell on one or two verses in God’s word.
- As you walk your dog, pray for God’s kingdom to come in your neighborhood and look for what God highlights around you.
- Bedtime and bath time with your kids is a great time to pray that God would be pursuing them in their everyday spaces.
2. Quit something
Every one of us has things we really don’t NEED to be doing. Things that keep us from stepping into God’s invitations in our lives. The average American watches over 30 hours of TV a week. Before you gasp in horror and judgment… count your hours from the last few weeks. Yikes.
You have control over more hours of your day than you probably realize. Write out everything you do in a given month – pray over it and ask God if there are one or two things that should go as you head into this next season.
3. Condense one area of life
Pick one area of your life that you know your time could be managed better, get some resources, and work on maximizing your time.
Are you losing time and/or money that could be saved with:
- Better meal planning
- Condensing time you spend on emails
- Getting resources for balancing your budget
- Picking one or two nights a week for laundry instead of a little each day
- Researching different calendar methods that you haven’t yet tried.
I have found resources online as well as apps, books & other tools to help with all these areas and more. I challenge you to pick one!
4. Discern your “yeses” and “nos”
Every single time we say “yes” – we are also saying “no” to other things or people. This is a hard reality to swallow. We can’t live life in perpetual “yes” mode. As you go into this next season. Ask God to lead you in a priority list. Each season, priorities may change. But when you are in that season – Stick to the priorities.
Recently God put my extended family at the top of my list. They have always been on the list – but God made it clear they were to be at the very top. This means I have tried to say “yes” to every invitation and I have been initiating time spent together. Other relationships have to be lower on the list right now. Knee-jerk “yeses” to others will inevitably become “nos” to my family.
5. Put mission in your calendar
At the end of the day, there are a lot of well wishes that will never amount to more than that if it’s not on our calendars.
Every season my roommates and I plan out nights where we will intentionally invite over our neighbors or spend time in our neighborhood engaging with others. My missional community plans out meals once a month where we know we will be eating with neighbors that are different then us in age, ethnicity and economic status.
As the season changes let’s step into this fall with intentionality when it comes to our time. You’ll be surprised how this barrier to mission can be overcome!