Saturday, July 29, 2017

Time-Management for Busy Parents

As a parent you have a tough choice to make:  Either learn how to effectively manage your time, or be an ineffective parent.

There's no way around it.  Parenting is very demanding of your time.  But it also happens to be the most important thing you will do in life -- raising your kids to follow Christ.  So let's talk about three steps for effective time-management.
3 Steps For Effective Time-Management
First, set your priorities according to God's word.  You can't do everything because your time is limited and short (Psalm 90:10).  Therefore you must wisely choose how to spend your time.  This involves setting priorities, or clearly identifying what's most important so that you can be sure to devote adequate time to what really matters.

But how do we set the right priorities?  As Stephen Covey has written, it would be a tragedy to devote our lives to climbing the ladder of success only to reach the top and realize that it was leaning against the wrong wall!  As a Christian, you can't do whatever you want with your time, because your time belongs to God (1 Cor 6:19-20).  Therefore your job is to discover God's priorities for your life.  God has four priorities for every Christian.
1) Spiritual -- your relationship with God.  
2) Spouse -- your relationship with your husband/wife.  
3) Seed -- your relationship with your children.  
4) Self -- your relationship with your self (self-care/self-maintenance).  
Second, schedule everything else around your priorities.  Once you have identified and embraced God's priorities for your life, the next step is to schedule everything around those priorities.  This involves answering a key question:  What do I need to do on a daily/weekly basis in order to keep first things first?  Take each of the four God-given priorities, and write down those daily/weekly activities that are necessary to keep first things first.
For example, to prioritize your relationship with God you might write down the following:  Sunday worship; small group; volunteer at church; and daily quiet time with God.  
To prioritize your relationship with your spouse you might write down the following:  Eat dinner together every evening; go to bed together every evening; have a weekly date night.  
To prioritize your relationship with your children you might write down the following:  Have family dinner together every evening; be home at least five evenings every week; have Bible-time with the kids at least four times a week; bring the kids to Sunday worship and Home Group.  
To prioritize your relationship with your self, or self-care/self-maintenance, you might write down the following:  Exercise four days a week; eat salad for supper every day; get at least 8 hours of sleep every night; take a weekly Sabbath; take a vacation from work at least two weeks every year.
Third, simplify your schedule to make room for your priorities.  Once you clearly identify your God-given priorities, and then write down exactly what you need to do on a daily/weekly basis to keep first things first, you will likely find that you do not have enough time to do all that God has called you to do.  This does not mean that you don't have enough time.  We all have the same amount of time.  This simply means that you are currently trying to do too much.  You have over-scheduled and over-committed and over-booked yourself.  You have taken on more than God has called you to do.

Note:  This does not mean that you are doing bad things.  Everything you are doing may be very good.  But the reality is that good things can prevent you from doing the best things.

When you find that you are too busy to keep first things first, then that means you need to simply your life by cutting back on the activities and responsibilities that are good-but-not-essential.  In other words, as Andy Stanley has written, you need to do less to accomplish more.

As an imperfect but experienced "simplifier," I can offer you three suggestions for simplifying your life.
1) Learn to say "No."  Some people will be offended, but that's not your intention.  If saying "No" in order to do what God has called you to do offends people, then so be it.  You cannot control other people.  But you can control your time.  And if you don't take control of your time, other people will gladly control it for you.  
2) Don't try to keep up.  Just because somebody else is doing it doesn't mean you are supposed to do it.  Just because your sister has her daughter in dance, Girl Scouts, soccer, and softball doesn't mean God has called you to involve your kids in those activities.  If you try to keep up with others you won't keep up with God's will for your life.  Don't be anyone but the person God called you to be.  
3) Turn off the TV.  The average American spends 28 hours a week watching TV.  You can probably find all the time you need for your priorities if you would simply turn off the television.  
Parents, I encourage you to get your time under control.  Your time is limited.  Your time is short.  Your time with kids in the home is even shorter.  Set your priorities according to God's word.  Schedule everything else around your priorities.  And simplify your schedule to make room for your priorities.

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