What is more valuable – our time or our money?
Most of us would agree that time is more valuable than money, right?
But how many of us – even of those who actively budget our money – actually budget our time and evaluate on a regular basis where our time is being spent?
I’m not saying this to condemn you for not doing this in the past. No, what I’m encouraging you to consider is whether or not there might be some benefit in have a budget and a plan for where your focus and attention should be. Most of us know that an active set of guidelines to reign in our desires when it comes to our money is valuable. Doesn’t it seem like an occassional budget review, assessment, and planning for our time would also be helpful?
Now before we get started, I’m not advocating that you steal all of the joy at your life by placing yourself behind prison walls of a schedule that you must keep without wavering. No, what I’m suggesting is a guideline that helps you:
- Get the most out of your time
- Align your “spend” with your actual “values”
- Identify areas where you aren’t investing adequately
- Identify changes over time that may indicate a new direction you are headed in life
I’m going to show you my basic time budget for the last 3 years.
This was my “Time Budget” for much of 2015:
This was my “Time Budget” for much of 2016:
And this is my current “Time Budget” for 2017:
And to give you an idea of how I use this budget to evaluate the effective use of my time, here is how I currently have my time budget totalled out based on this calendar:
For the actual totals at the bottom:
I consider that YELLOW (which is about my personal relationship with God) is the sum of the YELLOW items (praying, studying, etc on my own) plus the RED (ministering and outreach to others with the Word of God) plus the PURPLE (which is ministry that we do as a family). This is because if I am sharing, I should always be seeking to learn with and through others – not feel like I’m the one bringing what is holy to a bunch of dogs that have nothing to offer me – that would be foolish and prideful. I must remain teachable and in relationship with the LORD. For me, I would say that YELLOW is the most important, because if I am not “IN CHRIST”, if I am not “WALKING IN SPIRIT”, if I am not “ANNOINTED and OVERFLOWING” myself, what good am I going to be to anyone else? And if I say this is the most important thing, shouldn’t my time “spent” prove this out? So I examine myself to see if my life aligns with my claims or needs adjustment.
GOD gets 45.25 hours in my time budget
I consider BLUE as the next most important (investment in my family), because the Word of God tells me that if I forsake my family then I am worse than an unbeliever. For the total in blue, I consider dedicated family time (BLUE) along with time spent doing ministry together as a family (PURPLE).
My Family gets 43 hours in my time budget
My next target is RED, which is outreach to others with the Word of God, with the Good News of the Gospel. I say that this is extremely important to me, so I also want to examine myself to see if my “spent” time demonstrates my claims. The RED items are ministry that I do without my family, but the PURPLE items are family ministry which also count for the same purpose.
Outreach and Service gets 30.5 hours in my time budget
And for now, I have to work to provide the monetary resources necessary to accomplish all of these things, because I have never accepted payment or gift in return for preaching, teaching, or evangelism in the past because I didn’t want any hinderance or question to exist about why I do these things. Not because I care what man might think about me myself – but so that there is one less hinderance/excuse that a man might use to ignore the truth that I share. So as a necessary funding of the above three, I have a full time job that provides for me to spend time with God, that provides resources to sustain my family, and that provides the means for us to reach out, help and serve those in the community of faith and those in need.
An investment of 40 hours finanically supports the priorities in my time budget
You might ask, “What good does all of this do?”
Well, first off, it helps me identify any idle time that has been wasted. Idle time can just be idle and not profitable, or it can lead us into things that are dangerous like temptation, etc. With a time budget, I don’t allow myself room to get caught up in awkward situations. My wife doesn’t have to wonder what I’m up to – she knows my schedule, knows where I am, how to reach me, etc. She also recognizes the value and purpose of my time, so there aren’t a lot of squabbles about what I am or am not doing to contribute, etc. If there is a time need, we figure out a way to budget for it, and boom – no more arguments.
Secondly, it offers me accountability to see if what I’m saying is important to me really is important to me. For example, right now, I’ve been looking at my current time budget and realizing that I don’t have dedicated, one on one time blocked out for me and my wife. I have Saturday mornings carved out for my daughter, but nothing dedicated to my wife. Knowing that Biblically, my wife is supposed to be closer to me than my daughter or I risk spoiling and ruining my child and damaging the strength of my marriage and household – I can see that this is something that I need to talk with my wife and us work together to make sure there is an appropriate focus in that area. Just a little bit of adjustment now can prevent a lot of troubles down the road.
Another way it benefits me is to recognize what direction my life is moving by comparing previous time budgets to today’s. Where is life taking me? Does that give me any insight into my current season, etc.?
But probably the most important thing that it does for me is it acts as guardrails in my week to week, day to day, moment to moment life. If I find myself creeping outside the bounds of this plan, that is not necessarily bad. We aren’t to remain in the same place forever, because we are growing and changing, we are gaining new assignments, and being sent out to be used in various different ways in our lives. But if I’m drifting from the plan, I need to know why. If I’m continually not sticking to a certain part of the plan, is it because of fleshly desires and worldly enticements? Or is it a movement, a tug, a call from the Holy Spirit to move me in a different direction. It’s much easier to identify the complacency of getting distracted and neglecting time in prayer or the Word that is clearly a flesh issue – than it is to understand why doors have been closing in one area of outreach/ministry while a tug is coming from another area of need. But if I’m paying attention through a disciplined schedule, it can at least be a little easier to grasp and wrestle with.
I’m not heaping up a burden for you to have to carry as a prison sell keeping you from the joy of living life to its fullest. No, I’m asking you – have you examined your time spend? Are you actually living life to the fullest, or is some of your time being wasted in idleness or mismanaged on things that really aren’t “the most important to you”. I encourage you to go through the exercise of tracking your time and adding it up to see where it is actually being spent. It might just tell you something that you didn’t already know. Many of us are deceived about where our time is really going until we actually measure it and examine it closely.
And if you saw value in what you learned from that one time experience, ask yourself if an occassional review might just be worth the time invested, in order to get the benefit back in a life truly lived to the fullest.
May the LORD bless you in some way from this.
PS: If you feel like this type of thing is unmanageable on your own and could use some help, message me or call me.