managing time you can't seem to manage

We simply can't fit everything in.

There are only 24 hours in each day, even when we feel like we have 48 hours of things to do. For the all the frustration that causes, however, there is a liberating truth:

You do have enough time to do everything God wants you to do.

Recently someone asked me "How do you pull off everything you seem to pull off in a single week? And by 'you' I mean YOU? Seriously you are one active guy."

I answered that I'm not sure there is a science to it, except that I keep my priorities clear - Jesus Christ, Katie, kids, and everyone/everything else (in that order). Somehow that alone anchors me and God helps me bend without breaking.

Another person followed up by asking, "How does one stay focused on our priorities? I think most of us get that they are supposed to be in that order, we just need a liitle help keeping it that way :) (Seriously, how???)"

Again, there is no "how" as much as there is a "Who" - let me use a metaphor.

I remember as a kid seeing movies like "Alice in Wonderland" or "Labyrinth" where a character was running through a maze that they couldn't find their way out of. Usually there would be an aerial shot in the scene to show you (the viewer) something they couldn't see - a birds-eye view of the maze. I always wondered as a kid if I could shout out to them where to go to help them out.

The good news is that God does the same thing for us in our busyness.When we feel like we don't know which way to turn (i.e should we cut back an hour on work to spend with our family, or should we cut back on relational time to increase professional time, etc) we have One who both shouts and whispers to us.

The problem, of course, is that God isn't MapQuest. He won't give you a turn-by-turn instruction on everything, but He will speak into your heart clear values that He wants you to use to know what to cut back on and what to increase today, or tomorrow, or the next day.

Let's face it - you and I only see the maze... but God sees the whole thing. He can restore your vision to what really matters without stealing away your freewill to make choices.

Andy Stanley wrote a great, short book on this called "Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide?" We all have to temporarily "cheat" people in our lives from what they hope from us, from work and family to our responsibilities and our extracurriculars. The catch is to make sure no one feels permanently "cheatED" in the process.

Imagine asking your family to hold a large rock because you need them to assume a burden you can't for a moment - they can hold it for a while, but you need to make sure you grab back the burden before they get worn down.

So that's why a priority list or mission statement like I mentioned is key. We need to make sure we don't give the most important people, starting with God, our leftovers. They need to get our best, because they in turn help us to become "whole" at giving our best to the rest of the world. Likewise, there is something about entering a busy season with something further down your priority list and knowing that those at the top are okay with it because you have first attended to them.

Again, though - God isn't just a religious priority, or even a "line item" on your list. He is the One who sees the maze, so absolutely start with Him. Prioritize your growth with the Lord, from taking active part in His Church to simply being still and knowing He is God. There is a reason He gives His Holy Spirit to people who receive Him as Savior and Lord... because He cares and knows we need more insight than what we can see.

That's it - no "one-size fits all" strategy... but priorities that you keep priorities, and constantly ask questions about to ensure the order is in the right order. That alone is what determines what you need to say "YES" to again that you've been putting off, and what you need to say "Not now" to that you have been protective of doing because you like it. Keep in mind, what you change today you may change back in a week - not because you're fickle, but because you are on a journey.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:13-17)

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