When it comes to church planting, the old saying is true, “Time is of the essence.” One thing a person can never get back is their time. Every second, minute, and hour is a gift from God ; how we steward the time He has given us is our gift back to Him. The question we must ask is: Are we making the absolute best use of the time He has given us, or are we wasting it?
The Apostle Paul once said it like this: “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, ESV)
In the evil days we are living in, being accountable with our time will make the difference in our personal lives, as well as the ministries God has called us to lead. There are four key components every pastor or church planter must keep in front of him when it comes to effective time management.
1. Time in the Word
Pastor James Merritt once said, “The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible, but to know God.” If we want to be effective in the ministry God has called us to, we must prioritize hearing His voice through the reading of His Word. It is in these times that God continues the work of transformation in our lives and that we get to know Him best. Apart from intimate time spent with God in His Word, we will begin to entertain the voices of this world over the voice of Him who called us to ministry in the first place. We need to hear God speak! Jesus once challenged the Jews: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) The church planter must make it his task to spend time daily with God in His Word.
2. Time with family
Secondly, it is vital that the minister prioritizes time with their family. I once heard it put that “love” is spelled “t-i-m-e.” One can sense a person’s love by the time spent with that person. It is essential that the married pastor is prioritizing unrushed, non-distracted time with their spouse. The husband should love his bride more than he does Jesus’ bride. One can measure this by evaluating where he gives the most time and energy. The same principle also applies to the leader who has children in the home. The apostle Paul challenged his protégé, Timothy: “For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Tim. 3:5, NLT) The pastor must make it his duty to be adamant about spending time with his family.
3. Time with your church
Pastor and author Thabiti Anyabwile once wrote that “shepherds should smell like sheep. The sheep’s wool should be lint on our clothes …. We should be so frequently among them that we smell like them, that we smell like their real lives, sometimes fragrant but more often sweaty, musty, offensive, begrimed from battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.” The pastor/church planter must always remember the task given to them by Christ Himself, “Go therefore and make disciples ….” (Matt. 28:20) It is impossible to disciple well without spending time with the person being discipled. In order for a church to set a healthy culture of biblical discipleship, the pastor must first model discipleship in his own life by spending time with his people. Jesus embodied this standard by the way He walked with His disciples. It is rare that you find Jesus in action and by Himself. He made it a priority to keep his people close, and the church planter must do the same.
4. Time with people far from God
If you were to ask Jesus why He stepped down from heaven into earth, one of answers would be, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10, NASB) When we stop making time for people who are far from God, we miss the very reason Jesus came in the first place. To quote from the Apostle Paul once more, “… do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5, ESV) The pastor who only makes time for Christians in his church will fail to fulfill his ministry. There must be a Christ-like aspiration in the heart of every church leader to see lost people saved, saved people discipled, and disciples sent out to repeat the process.
These four components won’t happen apart from healthy time management, which is why we all the more need time accountability. I encourage you to invite the people closest to you to use these four components as an accountability grid for your life. Measure how you are doing in these four components and identify the weakest one. After acknowledging your weakness in the specific area, prioritize time and energy to strengthen it. In doing so, you’ll be a more effective leader in your church and personal life!
Published January 23, 2018