Sometime during my visit to Colorado over the Christmas season, I lost a link in my wrist watch. The watch broke and fell off my wrist. I took it to a watch-smith, but the price seemed too expensive for such a small part.
Ever since then, I’ve been going through my daily routine “watchless” never quite sure what time it is. What started out as an annoyance has actually been a growth experience for me.
Time and time management have always been big factors in my life. I used to work in radio – an environment in which every second had to be used and marketed.
Ever since grammar school days, my personal discipline in the area of time management could be measured in seconds. I’ve always enjoyed being on time for things.
Now that I’ve been without a watch or immediate access to the time of day for a few weeks, some new thoughts have been impressed upon my mind. It’s possible that I had elevated clock time accuracy beyond its overall importance to my life as a follower of Christ.
For example, it’s a fact that neither Jesus nor His apostles ever wore a watch. They lived and worked by the light of the sun. Their days were ordered not simply by the hour, but instead by priority. They had to put first things first. Such thoughts ordered their days.
Then the question dawned on me: What would I do first at any given moment if it didn’t matter what time of day it was?
Would I spend more time in the Bible as a devotional act if the hour was irrelevant? Would I go to bed earlier or try to get more rest at night? Would I spend more time playing with my son before leaving for the office? Would I allow personal visits and conversations to go longer if the amount of time wasn’t being measured?
These questions make me wonder if being efficient hasn’t subtly come at the expense of something greater than efficiency. How many tender moments have I missed with those who are closest to me and dearest to me simply because I’ve been driven and redirected by the clock?
Don’t get me wrong—wise time management is a good and necessary thing. We must be wise in our use of time. And there is great virtue in giving our time in service to others as a regular way of life.
My concern is that the good thing (time management) doesn’t compete against the better thing (personal relationships and unhurried devotional introspection).
This needs to be true of pastors perhaps more than any other group.
After all, the pastorate isn’t a regular 9-to-5 job. The pastorate isn’t like a factory job. There’s no time-clock a pastor punches in and out of for the day. The pastor’s role is united to the pastor’s entire life. It’s a character-based calling requiring many hours of hard labor each day which flavors every hour of every day.
The pastor is to reflect biblical priorities in both his labor as well as his leisure. He must embody pastoral fitness, first in the home and then in the church. He must apply biblical doctrine and wise use of God’s resources both in the pastoral office as well as in the world.
Because the pastoral calling is a way of life based on godly character and not merely a job or a set of duties, the home is the greatest reflection of a man’s fitness for the role. According to Scripture, how a man spiritually directs his own family precedes his labor for the church.
The problem for many pastors in America is that the biblical perspective is at odds with our western view of industry and efficiency. Author Eugene Peterson says pastors are busy because of vanity and laziness. Pastors, of all people, must guard against busyness out of vanity.
It was a favorite theme of C. S. Lewis that only lazy people try to do everything. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing and establishing values and setting goals, the lazy person lets other people do it for him. He tries to please too many people.
Then we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which is essential to our vocation. We do this to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone.
Busyness is the easiest sin to defend among believers. Outside of the home, have you ever heard someone rebuked for their overcommittment? It’s rare.
I’ll probably get a new watch in the days to come – or repair one of the old ones I have. However, now more than ever, I desire to use time (especially as a pastor) with a different motivation in the years to come.
I want to be a pastor who tends his family well, since the Lord made this the litmus test for how the church is to be shepherded. I want to be a pastor who feeds on Scripture to live and preach well. I want to be a pastor who listens to others. And I want to be a pastor who prays.
Remembering that the hands of Jesus are sovereign over the hands of time,