“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 (NIV)
Throughout the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John repeatedly note the amount of time Jesus spent in solitude—away from the disciples, the crowds, and the busyness of his ministry. The frequent mention of this behavior suggests that Jesus was a master at setting boundaries with His time. Likewise, if we are to effectively manage our time and make our greatest contribution to the world, we too must establish clear boundaries with our schedules.
Like Jesus, this should start by allocating regular time for prayer (Mark 1:35) and study of God’s Word. Most of us are are used to the idea of tithing our money. But what about tithing our time? If we fill-up our schedules with demands from work and home and then try to find time to spend in prayer and study of God’s Word, we are setting ourselves up for failure. If you haven’t already, take some time this week to determine what time you will tithe exclusively to prayer and study of Scripture on a daily basis.
Once you have set clear boundaries in your schedule for spiritual disciplines, it can be helpful to take a similar approach to budgeting your time at home and at work. For me, a regular routine helps me keep my “work-life balance” in check. Nearly every day, I head to the office at 4:45 a.m. and I arrive back home at 4:00 p.m. This predictable schedule gives me clear boundaries within which I force myself to concentrate my work. Is my work ever done? Of course not. But that would be true if I worked until 5:00, 6:00, or 10:00 p.m. There’s no such thing as done. Having a hard line in my schedule for the end of my day at the office ensures that I have plenty of time to spend with my wife, kids, and church family.
If you don’t take the time to set boundaries in your schedule, someone else will. If you haven’t already, follow Jesus’ lead and set clear boundaries within which you will spend your time. This is the first step in getting control of your calendar and managing your time well.