Monday, July 25, 2011

Sensible Management

In affluent democracies Christians are often indistinguishable in lifestyle from non-Christians--not least when it comes to time management and personal organization. I have seen many articles written by Christians on these topics; virtually none even mention James 4:13-16 ("Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil"). Nor do any of the other "God alone ultimately determines how things will work out" scriptures get more than passing mention.

Not that I think a "truly Christian" approach is all that simple. Since God rarely sees fit to hand us minute-by-minute schedules for use of our time, we often feel forced into the secular "master your own hours" approach, lest doing "nothing" for extended periods costs us our chances of earning a living. Few are so closely tied to God as to always be sure what He wants from us--and we don't really wish to join those who won't get dressed in the morning without first praying "what color underwear should I put on today?"

Still, living most of our lives as if God didn't exist is no answer. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Our problem here, I think, is that we take it to mean, "If you just 'pray right,' you need never be uncertain about where to place your foot for the next step, and you'll never hit a dead end." More likely it means, "If you make consistent effort to stay humble before God and accept that He has full control over what happens, be sure He will keep you from wandering far outside His plan for your life." Which is not quite the same as total freedom from confusing circumstances, or even the occasional serious misstep. Even hikers who know exactly where they are can sprain ankles.

It takes humility to admit this, but humility is key to effective Christian living. Once you start assuming you know best, you've taken a dangerous step toward assuming you don't need God.

You may be the heart of frugality
And save nickels and dimes every day;
But if you never give anything to God,
Then you might as well throw it away.

You may be a star in your use of time
And put all the best work in your hours;
But if you have no time for the work of God,
All your deeds are as weeds in the flowers.

You may be a planner of highest skill
And may never fall short of a goal;
But if there is no place in your days for God,
You are taking a chance with your soul.

Put aside every doubt that God is Lord
And the Master of all of your time,
That He holds the whole claim to each thing we use;
Nothing really is yours or is mine.

So give to Him the first of all you earn,
And surrender each hour to His will,
And hand Him full control of your destiny--
And with blessings your life He will fill!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice again, Katherine. I enjoy reading your posts. Suzana