I always thought I spent my 24 hours per day pretty well—I took time for work, play, friends and family, and had enough left for rest. So of course just as I was feeling proud of my time-keeping abilities, I got a new job.
It was for a consulting firm—one that billed in 15-minute increments. Since we charged our services out to several companies at once, we took careful track of each phone call, each email, and all other work we did.
One day a client called to dispute a bill. I watched my boss go over the charges, point by point, and compare them to our logged timesheets. It was an important lesson for me in work and in life. Just as my boss back then needed to be accountable to clients, I need to be accountable for how I spend my time.
Have you ever logged your life? At first it feels overwhelming and needless, but if you submit to the process it can be liberating.
Here’s why: When you’re accountable you can stand behind your actions without fear or shame. You know you will be able to face any dispute because you've kept careful record. You’re certain you are being a good steward of your time.
Often we connect being a good steward with money or tithing but it's so much more. “Stewardship” refers to the management of affairs, property, or supplies with proper regard to rights of others.
When we use our time well, we can be confident our days will be meaningful. But Moses says it better, “So teach us to consider our mortality, so that we might live wisely” (Psalm 90:12 NET). Life is short, each day we have is a gift. It would do us well to remember this.
There’s nothing wrong with playing or relaxing or having fun when we know our actions are pleasing to God. However, there is something to be said for wasting time or over committing. Our hearts always seem to let us know when there are better ways to use the hours in a day and when we aren't being good stewards of our time.
One other thing to keep in mind is how we react to stewardship. We can look at it as something we have to do, and resent it, or we can see it for what it is—an opportunity to give God our best. Whether it's time, money, food, or other resources, stewardship is not only about accepting personal responsibility for taking care of something entrusted to us, but having a cheerful attitude about it. “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV).
When I look back at my time at the consulting firm I am glad I had the time-tracking experience. It taught me how easy it is to waste time, and showed me I didn't use my minutes as well as I thought. It was humbling. This month I challenge you to look at your time stewardship. Sure, logging every second of every day is extreme but if you were to track your time—even for a day or two—you might be surprised by your spending habits.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).