On path of life, time is not always manageable

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Faith & Reflection

As a new pastor, I attended several time management seminars (I don’t have time to go to them anymore). I would then construct weekly schedules that divided each day into hourly segments. I was determined to follow the admonition of Ephesians 5:16, which commands, “make the most of your time, because the days are evil.”

My plans were proper and my intentions were good. However, they were too rigid and I often had to change them. It didn’t take long to realize that ministry cannot be fully planned any more than life can be accurately predicted. In fact, I’ve discovered that unscheduled events are often ministry opportunities. I still plan my week, but I’m gradually learning to accept and enjoy the fact that as life happens, ministry occurs and lives (sometimes my own) are challenged and changed.

It is clear by reading the New Testament that Jesus had a plan of where He wanted to go and what He wanted to do. But as He traversed the land of Israel, He was accosted by, interrupted by, and interviewed by hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. There is no indication that any of them had an appointment with Him. He never consulted a receptionist, glanced at a calendar or called to cancel or adjust a previous appointment. Nor did He ever throw up His hands in despair or exclaim, “If I have one more interruption…!”

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) related an incident from his youth that he felt had influenced his entire life. When he was nine years old, he walked across a snow-covered field with his strict, no-nonsense uncle. When they reached the other side of the field, his uncle stopped him and pointed to his tracks in the snow. They were as straight as an arrow. He then pointed to his nephew’s tracks, which meandered all over the field.

“Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again?” he asked. “And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal? There is an important lesson in that!”

And there was … years later as a world-famous architect, Wright explained how the incident had contributed significantly to his philosophy in life. “I determined right then,” he shared with a twinkle in his eye, “not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had.”

“We can make our best plans and try to carry them out in our own strength. Or we can make careful plans and ask God to bless them. Yet another way of working is to begin with God; to ask His plans, and to offer ourselves to Him to carry out His purposes.” – Hudson Taylor

Pastor Ross Helgeton is Senior Pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.