Psalm 90:12 is a prayer asking for wisdom in light of the shortness of our life. Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to be careful about how we live and to specifically think wisely about how we spend the time that God has given us in our lives. Ephesians 2:10 says that all Christians have good works that God has ordained for us to do. A friend told me “God will never give you more good works to do in a day that you can actually do in a 24 hour day.” So, serious believers should be serious about planning their time, to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord in all we do.
WHERE AM I GOING
Before you start planning your schedule, whether thinking for one day or a whole year, it is helpful to remember the big picture of your life. Where are you trying to go in the journey of life. What are you trying to accomplish. The most helpful way to do this is to look at your life mission or vision statement, or any personal values or guiding principles, as well as your personal goals (if you have any of these things).
WHERE AM I
Next it is helpful to evaluate where you are today. What has already been accomplished and what is still lacking. If you are planning a whole year start by looking back at your most recent year evaluation. Again, this implies that you evaluate your past year. If you are planning your next week, start by looking back at last week. This is one of the most beneficial reasons to evaluate your life so that you plan accordingly. Those who don’t learn from their own personal history (even if that history is only 7 days old) are bound to repeat it.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP
You will not accomplish all of your personal goals this week if you have set Stretching Goals. You should not expect that of yourself. You should long to be faithful to do your part for God’s glory. So, in light of where you are and where you are going, you should strive to plan to take the next step towards those goals.
Let’s say you are planning your week. You look at last week’s evaluation and see that you didn’t go to bed early enough and thus you overslept. You planned to spend time with God each morning but were too rushed to be faithful. You were very faithful evangelistically last week and want to continue that trend. But you didn’t get as much time with your disciples as you would have liked. You also feel like you spent too much time at the gym. These observations ought to feed directly into how you plan next week.
Imagine you collect precious stones. You have a special jar that protects these stones. It cannot contain all the stones you’ve collected. The larger the stone, the larger the value is. So what must you do? Make sure you put the largest stones in the jar first to make sure that they fit and don’t get left out before the jar gets too full.
This illustration should help you plan your week (or semester etc… as well.) Think through what things are most important and make sure they get on your schedule first. Write out all your priorities for the week, ideally in order from greatest to least.
You may argue that sleep is most important because if you don’t get seven hours of sleep a night you are worthless. Second you put time with the Lord. Third you put eating. Fourth you put your marriage. Fifth you put kids. Next you put the staff you lead at work. Next you put the people you disciple. Next you put the friends you are sharing the gospel with. Next you put neighbors you share the gospel with. And on and on you could go. Many of you would put anything administratively last.
As you start working on your schedule, block off when you are going to accomplish your main priority. So you block off 11pm to 6am to sleep each night. Then you say you will spend 6-6:45 spending time with God. 6:45-7:15 you will eat and get ready for work.
At eight am you have a staff meeting. That didn’t make your priority list but it’s part of your job so you can’t skip it. It goes on your schedule. Next you plan to have a lunch Monday with a disciple.
You keep walking through each day planning your week like this. At some point, by the time you get to Friday or Saturday you will realize you won’t be able to do all you wanted to. Remember the above application of Ephesians 2:10. Trust God’s wisdom and plan that if you are faithfully using the time and energy to do what you can this week some things might need to be delegated to someone else or they may have to wait next week.
This is an over simplified example to keep this article short. This really shouldn’t take much time and can be done in a thirty minute planning time on a Friday afternoon or Sunday night. If you have a hard time, ask a mentor. Don’t overthink it. Once you do this a few times, it often becomes so easy you can do it naturally as you are going with little to no forethought. Pray that God will help you be faithful.
Plan your work. Work your plan. Almost any plan will work. Just be faithful with what God’s given you.