Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:15-16).
We are blessed to have Professor Art Hill (Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota), lead the first of our Everyday Faith seminars. The seminar series addresses the Sunday/Monday gap, in other words, helps us translate our faith from Sunday church to Monday work. (By ‘work’, we mean not just the work we do to earn a living, but all the kinds of work we do in everyday life — at home or in the community — at any stage of life, anytime, anywhere.)
Keys to executing God-given roles effectively
God calls us to specific roles in everyday life (for example, as spouse, parent, employee, or community leader). Art addressed a key problem common to us all. We’re frazzled and busy — so busy it’s hard to think meaningfully about living out our faith in everyday life. One of Art’s areas of research is personal task management — called ‘Managing Me’. What a blessing to learn from a world expert on this crucial topic! Managing ourselves is essential if we’re to be available for God’s use in everyday life. Art took us through six key steps we can take to manage ourselves and our work better, and live a more balanced life:
- Aim. Make sure we are crystal clear about our God-given calling and purpose. We are followers of Christ (Mt 4:19) who walk not without aim (1 Cor 9:26a).
- Sort. Identify incoming work, eliminate low-value tasks (including emails!), and triage those that remain, with God’s wisdom, per James 1:5a.
- Select. Pick the best purpose-related, beneficial task to do. In Ephesians 5:15-16a, we are exhorted to be wise, making the best use of our time.
- Do. Focus on getting the selected task done. Don’t wander off into interesting distractions (like day-dreaming about vacations to Hawaii!) Proverbs 10:4 exhorts us to work diligently.
- Review. Reflect, evaluate, learn and improve. (Incorporate ‘Review’ into daily meditation and prayer — see Psalm 139:23-24.)
- Break. Take a complete break. Get good sleep. The rhythm of work and rest is important. (See Ex 20:8-10.)
Consider #5, ‘Review’. Think how much more meaningful prayer is when it’s directly linked to our God-given purpose, goals and tasks, whether as student, spouse, parent or employee. It’s clear that if we put these steps into practice for each of our God-given roles, we can more clearly image God’s character in our work, and be far more fruitful and effective in our God-given vocations in everyday life.
This summary of the ‘Managing Me’ seminar is just a very high level overview — I’ve not done justice to the comprehensive excellence of Art’s work. We were left with examples that go into much more detail about how these principles can be applied in every conceivable situation, so there were takeaways for everyone. Also, Art gave us a number of insightful passages from Scripture showing what God says about managing ourselves and our work. It’s crucial that we manage ourselves so we can use God’s gift of time wisely for His purposes and glory. Effective self-management is step one for Everyday Faith.
Art is a humble, godly man of prayer who loves Jesus Christ, shares faithfully from God’s Word, and brings encouragement, wisdom and inspiration to all seminar participants. Before we knew it, time was up. What we learned together was how to manage ourselves and our time so we can be more effective for God’s mission. We learned how we can take simple steps to be the church more effectively (rather than being people who just ‘go to church’), and live fruitful rather than unfruitful lives.
Gracious Father, in the gospel you lavish us with your love. Launch us into your transforming story of redemption. Help us walk in the Spirit, and live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in our everyday lives and vocations. Our desire, as an act of worship, is to bring everything we do under the lordship of Christ, and in so doing, testify to the gospel of your grace. We pray these things in the name of Jesus — who has promised to make all things new, including me. Amen.
(This post was written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations, Village Schools of the Bible.)