We all are given 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Some years ago, I remember hearing that time goes really fast after you turn 40. Strangely – it seems to be true! Time, can be a great source of blessing, healing and hope or a burden, source of frustration and angst. The Psalmist declared that our times are in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15). How we choose to spend our time can mean the difference between health, healing and wholeness or pain, stress and disease.
In today’s Shepastor, we highlight words of wisdom from Peggy Musgrove, a licensed Assemblies of God minister, speaker, freelance writer, author, and prayer group leader. In her article, Time Management Tips for Women in Ministry, Minister Musgrove encourages women in ministry to carefully evaluate their use of time and provides insights on how to realistically set and maintain healthy boundaries.
Read on and be blessed!
Shepastor Highlights Time Management Tips for Women in Ministry, by Minister Peggy Musgrove
Recognize the Value of Time
Good time management begins with an understanding and appreciation for time. Each of us has been given the same amount of time each day. The unknown factor is how many days we are given. The Psalmist prayed that the Lord would help him evaluate his days. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV). I believe this prayer was more than just keeping track of how old we are, something that some of us would like to forget. I believe the Psalmist’s deep desire was that his time would be well spent and that he would learn something from each day.
Solomon, the wisest of kings, wrote a beautiful treatise on time in Ecclesiastes 3. In this well-known passage he talks about the changes which time brings, the various cycles of life. Having this broad view of life helps us when the present seems desperate.
Paul, in writing to both the Ephesians and Colossians, addressed the appropriate use of time. “Redeeming the time,” the King James Version translates the phrase in Ephesians 5:16. The New King James says, “Making the most of your time,” while the New International translates the same phrase, “making the most of every opportunity.” How ever the phrase is stated, the teaching is that time is valuable, and it should be used purposefully.
I like the poem by Christine Warner because she covers all the bases about the use of time:
I have only just a minute.
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it.
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.
But it’s up to me to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it.
Give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it.
How Do I Use My Time?
Most of us have a good sense of the value of time, and want to use it to good purpose. The problem we constantly face in ministry is “How do we squeeze everything that is expected of us into 165 hours per week?”
One day when I was contemplating the frenzied life of the ministry, I began thinking of all the demands made upon our time, just simply to keep up with life. That image of the perfect minister constantly haunted me. Somewhere I was sure a woman existed who knew exactly how to manage her time to get everything done. She was so real in my mind that I wrote the following description of her, first as a laywoman, then as a woman in ministry:
THE IDEAL WOMAN
She is beautiful; she can wear her wedding dress 10 years after her wedding. To do this, this beautiful woman exercises 20 minutes each day, making a total of 3 hours per week. She watches her diet, prepares nutritious food, relaxes while she eats, which used to take 21 hours, but now she needs an extra hour to read nutrition labels. She is health conscious, so she gets eight hours of sleep every night which takes 56 hours of her week.
She keeps up her personal appearance. She is color-analyzed, dresses for success, coordinates, harmonizes, and accessorizes in the latest fashions. She keeps everything laundered, cleaned, and pressed—and does this on a minimum budget and time of about 20 hours per week.
She is coiffured, manicured, and pedicured in trendy styles. This washing, blow-drying, styling, perming, coloring, conditioning, polishing, sculpturing process may take up to five hours per week. The total for her personal care takes a mere 106 hours out of 168 hours, leaving 62 hours in her week for other things.
This woman is not only beautiful, but also intelligent. She develops her mind by reading daily newspapers, weekly news magazines, monthly best sellers, and watches TV news to keep up with current national and international events, all of which takes at least five hours per week.
She is educated, informed, and stays aware by taking continuing education classes. Because she has developed her mind, she is career oriented and works outside the home 40 hours, plus an additional hour each day for transportation, making a total of 45 hours per week for her career.
If she does not work outside the home she has to do all the volunteer work the “working” women do not have time to do, which can take just as much time as if she were employed. The total for mental development, career, and volunteer work is 50 hours, leaving 12 hours in her week for other things. This beautiful, intelligent woman also cares about her family and community. In the time that remains she keeps an immaculate house, passing the scrutiny of the most inquisitive neighbor at any moment. Her yard also looks like a country garden with flowerbeds that change with the seasons. She spends quality time with her children, plays with them, helps with homework, attends all school and sports events, taxis their friends, and keeps up their wardrobes while serving them nutritious meals every day (which they always enjoy).
She is involved in community affairs, volunteering for scouts, food bank, and any current charity. The total for family and community activities should have been 38 hours but this marvelous woman crammed it all into 12 hours. And the most amazing thing about this ideal woman is that she does all of this and when she goes to bed at night, she never once says to her husband, “I have a headache.”
And that’s just the ordinary woman.
The Ideal Woman in Ministry
The woman in ministry meets all those expectations plus:
She attends at least three church services per week, prepares inspirational lessons enabling her to teach outstanding Sunday school and midweek classes, attends and contributes to staff meetings, committee meetings, women’s meetings, prayers meetings and all special meetings that occur “only once a year.” She leads the way in introducing needed change in such a manner that the people eagerly embrace her new ideas.
She has an exemplary devotional life, reading her Bible and praying daily; she keeps current on the latest Christian books, and has thought through the theological implications of current events. She has time for witnessing to unbelievers and counseling with Christian friends. While she is on call 24/7, let’s assume this averages 20 hours per week, making a total of 214 hours needed by women in ministry, just 46 hours more than the average week of seven 24-hour days.
The incredible thing about the woman in ministry is that she somehow does it, and every Sunday arrives on time to sit calmly smiling in her place on the platform.
Facetious? Yes. Realistic? No. This woman only exists in our minds, yet we too often try to conform to her image.
Some Time Management Principles
Many excellent books on time management are available to us when we realistically try to control our time. The influence of these books can be seen in the increased usage of pocket calendars and personal digital assistants. Anyone seriously struggling with time management would do well to visit a local bookstore and pick up a good book on the subject. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Establish Your Goals. Most time management books recommend being aware of our goals as a basis for managing time. In determining goals, consider every area of your life. Ask yourself, “What are my spiritual goals, my physical goals? What are my mental, social and financial goals? Clarifying goals helps you know where you are going.
When we have done this, we can begin to orchestrate time to meet our goals. Some time is controlled by other people and obligations, such as time for the church, or the need for rest. In these areas you do not have as much control. However, all of us have some discretionary time which is the area we must manage efficiently if we want to meet our goals.
Engage in Activities Consistent with Your Goals. As we understand our goals, and start working toward them, gradually we begin to eliminate activities inconsistent with our goals. Interruptions will undoubtedly come as we pursue our goals. We will be terribly frustrated if we do not expect them and make time for them. Expecting the unexpected helps balance an attitude of rigidity toward time management.
Eliminate the Clutter in Your Life. Sometimes we may think we have a time problem when really we have a “space” problem. If the areas we work in are cluttered or disorganized, we may be wasting valuable time in our work. One goal should be to eliminate all clutter from our lives, whether it is cluttered time or cluttered space. Clutter can also include unfinished tasks, broken relationships, and fragmented thinking caused by indecision. In our quest to eliminate clutter as a means of saving time, we will want to consider removing clutter in these areas also. Completed tasks, mended relationships, and decisive thinking free our minds and increase our efficiency.
Discipline Yourself to Do the Big Things First. I have found that filling time is somewhat like packing a suitcase. You put in the big stuff that you have to have first, and then pack all you can in the small places. Hopefully you can get everything in that you need. The difference between the two is that you can dump the suitcase and start over, but life has no reruns. That is why acquiring good time management skills is so important. Without them, we may find ourselves saying, “Life is the pits.”
Adapted from the book, Musings of a Maraschino Cherry: Reflections on the Role of a Minister’s Wife, ACW Press, 2004.) The book is available from the Gospel Publishing House.
Peggy Musgrove, a licensed Assemblies of God minister, is a speaker, freelance writer, author, and prayer group leader. She has held diverse national and district ministries for the Assemblies of God, including serving as national director for the Women’s Ministries Department.
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Until next Wednesday
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,