Day 6 of Testimony in the Workplace Study
“So, then, be careful how you live. Do not be unwise but wise, making the best use of your time because the times are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16, ISV).”
It would be impossible to contain all that needs to be said about time management in a short post like this. More likely, an entire series of books would be better suited for the subject. Time management is more than a buzz phrase—it is critical to our lives. The context of Ephesians five is related to our stewardship of the time we have. We are responsible for managing it, and for managing it in a way that will please the Lord!
How we spend our time within the context of a workplace environment is certainly an expression of our testimony as Christians in many ways. Let’s first think about how we use the time while we are on the job. It’s very easy to waste time. Let’s say you work eight hours in a day. How much of that time is spent watching YouTube videos, checking social media for those life-affirming likes, angrily reading Twitter knuckleheads spew their nonsense, and so on? How much time do I use socializing, walking around the office floor, shooting the breeze, and so on? Look—it’s not like everyone stays rooted to their seat 100% focused on work and only work for eight hours every single day. But herein lies the testimony issue—am I viewed as a time manager or a time waster? My employer will quickly learn which one I am! If I use more time avoiding work, the end product I put out will almost certainly suffer. Manage those hours wisely, and make the best use of your time (as Paul said to the Ephesians). Put in the time to do your work—good work!
Wasting time can lead to a second work-related issue with regards to our testimony as Christians. If I am wasting the hours devoted to work, it will almost certainly lead to stretching out the hours devoted to work. Instead of being in the office for eight hours, we may find ourselves there longer—ten hours, twelve hours, or even more. If I have a spouse or a family, that isn’t fair to them. My testimony as a spouse or a parent will suffer. Maybe these thoughts will stroll through an onlooker’s mind, “Doesn’t he care enough about his family to spend time with them? He’s always here!” How do these self-inflicted lengthened days effect my ability to attend church, or to devote time to be a helper or leader there? If I can rarely attend church or be of any use there due to these issues, I would imagine this would raise questions as well. “I thought she went to church a lot, but she’s always working now. Does she even go anymore?”
Obviously, there are other considerations. For many, their job requires them to work longer hours—maybe temporarily, and maybe not. It’s a difficult thing to hear, but accepting a job knowing it will require me to be a workaholic is probably not a good idea for a Christian. If people are wowed by how devoted I am to my job and company, at least a small alarm bell should ring in my head. Is my time managed towards company devotion, wealth, prosperity, and climbing the ladder? If it is, it will almost certainly go in tandem with it being devoted away from my family or church (or both). As a Christian, I’m supposed to be different. Devotion to things that bring temporary happiness characterizes the mindset of an earthly minded person. As a heavenly minded person, then, my devotion and time management should be different.
Time management will always require some sort of sacrifice. It may require me to sacrifice a big promotion, knowing that the promotion will ask more of my time. It may require me to live a more modest lifestyle. But think of the eternal trade off! As Christians, our focus is not on what we can squeeze out of our years on this earth. Time will end one day, and how we managed it will be borne out in how we are rewarded in a timeless eternity. And it isn’t like some of us have a corner on the “time market!” We all have twenty-four hours per day, and that will never be altered. How do I manage that time? I think I will always remember the words of a speaker named David Gilliland. He once said that we have the exact amount of time [in our day or in our life] to accomplish everything that God wants us to accomplish. So, as I manage my time, I must examine my priorities for that time. In the workplace (or outside it), am I carving up time to accomplish everything I want? Or am I giving consideration for what God wants? Nobody said the Christian life would be easy, and time management certainly isn’t. But manage it we must, and I hope these considerations leave me with a renewed desire to manage it well according to His judgment.