September 4, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Since my job requires me to travel quite a bit, I spend a lot of time in airports. Inevitably I end up browsing airport bookstores. And inevitably I encounter a bunch of time management books.
Every now and then a title is juicy enough to entice me to pick up a book. I looked twice at Eat That Frog, a book on procrastination. I even bought one book, not because if its title, but because of its subtitle: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs. According to Amazon, there are over 50,000 books in the “time management” category. And if you dare to Google on “time management,” you’ll get over six billion hits. You’re really going to have to manage your time well to visit all of these links!
You might be surprised to learn that Ephesians has some wisdom about what we would call time management. (Ephesians would talk about time redemption, actually, but we’ll get to this later.) You can find this wisdom in chapter 5, verses 15-16: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Most literally, where the NIV speaks of “making the most of every opportunity,” the Greek original says we’re to be “redeeming the time” (exagorazomenoi ton kairon). That’s a first-century Christian version of time management.
Or to put it more bluntly, this is God’s version of time management. Though there are tens of thousands of time management books and billions of online time management resources, I am most interested in what God has to say on the subject. So I’m eager to focus on this passage for several days and to share with you what I discover.
Today, I’d like to encourage you to read this passage again, maybe a few more times, reflecting on the words and what they convey to you. As you do, you may consider the following questions.
Something to Think About:
As you read Ephesians 5:15-16:
What words strike you as unusual or unexpected?
What in this text grabs your imagination?
What feelings are stirred up in you?
What questions do you have?
Something to Do:
Put Ephesians 5:15-16 in a place where you’ll see it several times today. As you do, read it quietly to yourself. Listen for what the Spirit of God wants to say to you through this passage.
Gracious God, I wonder what you think of us, with all of our talk of time management. Do we seem to you eager? Open? Arrogant? Wise? Foolish? Or . . . ?
There is something in me, Lord, that wants to use well the time you have given me. I don’t want to waste my life, but rather to live it purposefully. So I ask you to teach me through Ephesians 5:15-16 how to make the best use of the time. Help me to attend to your Spirit’s guidance as I live today. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project:
Why People Can’t Rest – Human Nature Revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.