Sunday, March 09, 2008

Time Management Versus Discipline

Often we discuss the busy-ness of our lives as if it's a time-management issue. We look at dividing our lives into neat little pie charts of time. We have so much for work, so much for family, so much for personal time, and so much for spiritual pursuits (if we value that).

When life gets complicated or stressful, we seek to either rework the pie chart, reorder priorities, or assign new time slots for rest and relaxation. When new responsibilities or tasks demand more of our time, we try to jam them in without disturbing the other priorities of life. In reality, we see our life as a never-ending cycle of juggling and staying afloat.

We do this to avoid stress as much as possible. But what do we do when two of life's priorities and responsibilities collide with no solution.

Collisions mess things up.

Suppose we want to honor our divorced parents, but they each expect you for Christmas dinner at the same time? What if our two children have sports events at the same time, and we believe being a good parent means being there for all their games? How about having a very sick friend in the hospital, and we need to resolve a major issue between our spouse at the same time? What takes priority seems to get murky.

What is also wrong with seeing life this way is that we rarely can account for time with God. That will take the back burner as long as other more immediate issues need to be addressed. And for me personally, rest and relaxation seems to get in the way of more important duties. In fact, everything becomes a duty. This is not good.

The solution may be no more simpler than being disciplined. What I mean is that I just need to say "no" to certain things in order to say "yes" to what's really needed.

What's the difference?

That's a good question. The best way to answer that is to ponder what it means to listen to Jesus as the most important voice in our lives. Then to ponder what it means to follow Jesus, even above those we love, including ourselves. If we can get our minds around the implications, life becomes very simple. Do what we know Jesus wants us to do, in a timely manner, and even against our emotional desires. Then we will do what is needed.

Will this approach to life make life less stressful? Probably not. In fact, as we go against our own wills, life will get pretty stressful. Will it make life a little easier? Depends if we mean our circumstances, or our peace with God.

What good is it to lead a life like this?

It means our souls will be preserved. It means our character will develop into godly manifestations. It means that we will come closer to the heart of God and identify more with Jesus. It means that we will begin to live life on purpose and with ultimate meaning.

It's a choice between the pursuit of ease—which really doesn't exist—or seeking a life of meaning and eternal rewards.

How do you see it?

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