The Time of Your Life
Millions of us work anywhere, anytime simply by pulling an iPhone or Android out of our purses or pockets. Two-thirds of U.S. employees now work during vacations. Being constantly connected is taking a toll on our sleep, exercise time, and relationships, according to USA Today.[i] With the apparent collapse of the space between work, leisure, and family, our concern about time management is greater than ever before.
Gandhi once said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”[ii] We can manage faster, write more rapidly, read more quickly, and communicate briefly. We have fast food, microwave meals, and ready-made snacks, and a world of information at our finger tips via the Internet. This tendency toward rushing occurs even within the walls of some churches that boast of offering eight- to twelve-minute sermons.
Time and the Stewardship of Life
Just what is this thing called time? I define time as my habitual expenditure of the stewardship of life. Time is a “stewardship” because our lives are not our own. In reality, it is all God’s time. Since it is His, we’d better be careful in what we do with it.
God’s Word gives us a solid understanding of the biblical concept of time. Paul wrote, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15–17).
Chronos vs. Kairos
To apply Paul’s wisdom, we need to understand the two ideas about time in New Testament days. The first is chronos, from which we get the word “chronology.” This is the idea of continuous time that is measured in hours, minutes, or seconds. This is the clock that pushes us to the next appointment and runs out before we have finished with our daily responsibilities.
The second word for time is kairos, which is the idea of a fixed moment or season of opportunity. This is the period of the day when something special and truly memorable happens. This is the experience of our life when time stands still and something truly “timeless” happens.
Chronos is quantitative. Kairos is qualitative. The difference between these two words is the difference between a minute and a moment. A minute is measured by seconds, or by a clock. The experience and opportunity measure a moment.
Seizing the Moments
Paul did not use chronos when he said to make the most of your time. The idea isn’t to control your hours and minutes or to fill in your daily and weekly schedules. He was not talking about any time-management system. He was talking about buying back the moments, not the minutes.
Paul, in effect, said, “You’ve got to aggressively buy this time back or you’re going to miss the God-given moment.” Capture them, seize them, and buy them back from a world that is stealing them away! Biblical time-management is not so much a matter of controlling the calendar, but of capitalizing on the opportunities.
Finding Kairos in the Chaos of Chronos
Most of our planning, when it comes to time, deals with the “minutes” of life instead of the “moments.” We can learn to “seize the moments”, not just “spend the minutes.” I call this “finding kairos in the chaosof our chronos.”
Eternal Moments for God and Others
The Living Bible paraphrases Proverbs 10:27 in this manner: “Reverence for God adds hours to each day.” Jill Briscoe sheds light on this priority when she writes, “No one has any more time than you have. It is the discipline and stewardship of your time that is important. The management of time is the management of self; therefore, if you manage time with God, He will begin to manage you.”[iii] Significant periods of renewal and reflection are perhaps one of the most powerful tools for true biblical time-management. Jesus knew the value of time alone in the wilderness. The early church pursued extended days of prayer. Biblical examples show us that many of the great personalities sought extensive amounts of time for renewal. They knew they needed to “come apart before they came apart.”
Another vital element in kairos living is remembering to be open to the people who enter into your daily life. Every seemingly mundane minute, when spent with another person, carries the potential of a kairos moment of eternally significant impact. It’s been said, “Time, wisely used, gives relationships top priority.”
Treasuring the Moments
A powerful and poignant illustration of the importance of “moments” versus “minutes” is seen in the way we treasure memories. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Do you remember October 14, 2008? Wasn’t that twenty-four hour period truly life-changing?” Or have you ever said to anyone, “Do you remember that experience we shared at 3:17 p.m., two years ago?”
Instead, we all recall with great fondness an event or relational encounter, not because of the date or time, but because of the meaning of the moment. Days, hours, and minutes speak powerfully to our lives only when they have become the avenues of real “moments.” If we can understand, in retrospect, the value of “moments” versus “minutes,” wouldn’t it be wise to do so with the present and future time that is before us?
He was going to be all that a mortal could be. No one should be kinder nor braver than he…Tomorrow;
A friend who was troubled and weary he knew, who’d be glad for a lift and who needed it, too; On him he would call and see what he could do…Tomorrow.
Each morning he stacked up the letters he’d write. And thought of the folks he would fill with delight…Tomorrow;
It was too bad, indeed, he was busy today, and hadn’t a minute to stop on his way; “More time I’ll have to give others,” he’d say…“Tomorrow.”
The greatest of workers this man would have been, the world would have known him had he ever seen…Tomorrow;
But the fact is he died, and he faded from view, and all that he left here, when living was through, was a mountain of things he intended to do…Tomorrow. (Anonymous)
Today is the day to begin a biblical, habitual expenditure of the stewardship of life through strategic daily renewal. When you understand the time of your life based on the foundation of a solid theology, identity, purpose, values, priorities, and goals, you can live a deeper life in how you understand and utilize your habitual expenditure of the stewardship of life – in time.
Copyright © 2014 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.
[i] Ibid. USA Today.
[ii] Swenson, 153.
[iii] Briscoe, Jill, Before You Say Amen, (Colorado Springs, Colorado, David C. Cook, 1989), 15.