In order to redeem time, the overall purpose of one's life must be clearly defined and the goal of life established. In this way, all activities that will not help in the accomplishment of the goal must be dropped. When faced with the choice of activities, time must only be given to those activities which are indispensable for the accomplishment of the desired goal. There will be other activities which could make contributions that are good or even very good, but if they are good but dispensable, no time should be given to them. Each one ought to ask about an activity before he invests some time in to it, "Will it contribute towards bringing me to my desired goal? Is there nothing better than it in helping me accomplish my goal? Is there nothing that would work faster than it in helping me accomplish my goal?"
There are many things that must be done at the practical level to redeem time. Take the matter of bathing for example. There are some people who bathe in five minutes, others in ten minutes, others in fifteen and some in thirty. Someone has even told me of a sister who spends forty-five minutes each morning in cleaning herself in a bath. Think about the person who bathes every day and spends five minutes in doing so. If he lives to be one hundred years, he would have spent one hundred and twenty-seven days in bathing. On the other hand, the person who spends forty-five minutes every-day in bathing and also lives to be one hundred years, would have spent nine times as many days in bathing, which is one thousand, one hundred and forty three days. It can be said that the person who bathed in five minutes everyday redeemed 1143 - 127 = 1016 days whereas the person who used forty-five minutes in bathing wasted the one thousand and sixteen days. Facing these facts, will you do something about the time you spend in the bath? Will you redeem the time?
Some people have made it a good habit to pray each time they go to the toilet. They may spend ten minutes at the toilet in a day. If they pray for seven of those ten minutes, then in one hundred years they would have prayed for 25 5500 minutes which is quite an amount of prayer raised to the Lord!
There is the redemption of time spent in talking. There are people who do not go straight to what they want to say. First of all, they keep quiet for many minutes before they start to speak. It is as if their mouths do not want to open or it is probably that they are meditating upon what to say. They could do that for up to five minutes or more! Then there are some people who when they start to speak say, "Please eh; please eh; I want to say...." They want to say rather than saying! Others go round and round on secondary and tertiary issues, burying precious minutes before they come to the thing on their hearts. These are bad habits and should be stopped at once. It is a way to murder the time of others. It is self-love, for the one who does that is more or less saying, "I am the most important person. This one or these ones might as well wait to hear me!" Before you go to see anyone, take time to plan what you will talk to him about. It will help you if you jot down what you intend to talk to him about. List out the points that you would want to mention. Ask yourself if you have forgotten anything. Pray that the Lord should show you anything that you might have forgotten. Pray that you will be able to communicate and then go to see the person. When you get to the person, greet him and state the purpose of your visit. Ask him for permission to speak. When you are allowed to speak, get to the matter at once and present the matter point by point until you are through. When you are through, tell him that you have finished. Do not just keep quiet when you have finished speaking. He may think that you are still thinking through what to say. Give him an opportunity to speak back to you. When you realize that he has finished speaking, thank him and ask him for permission to leave. Do not wait for him to become so fed up with your presence that he has to pray that the Lord might give you grace to depart.
The redemption of time should also be applied to dressing habits. The person who wants to redeem time will buy clothes that are easy to handle and that do not attract dirt. For the last twenty years I have not bought any clothes that need ironing. Before I buy any pair of trousers or a shirt, I ensure that its quality is such that it will not need ironing. This has saved me and those who serve me the time that would otherwise have been taken up by the ironing process. The person who buys the types of clothing that require special attention has opted for special loss of time. He can only blame himself for the consequence of this. This matter also applies to the gifts that we make to people. Any gift that will cause the receiver much time to keep, is an expensive gift. I remember a friend who gave me a beautiful tie. Unfortunately, this tie can only be cleaned through special dry-cleaning. The last time that it was cleaned, it cost a total of about three thousand francs in cash and two hours in time, for the person who cleaned it, spent one thousand two hundred and fifty francs in fuel to go and leave it at the dry cleaner's, and a thousand francs to go and pick it up three days later, and seven hundred and fifty francs as dry-cleaning fees. The journey to and from the dry-cleaner's on the two days, took away two hours from an intercessor! As it happened, the person who gave me the tie, is also the person who suffered these losses in money and time. However, although the losses were borne by someone else, yet I feel bad because they were on my behalf and they were borne by someone who is precious to me. Above all, these were losses to the kingdom of God.
Those who want to redeem time, must be extremely disciplined in the matter of building relationships. Each solid relationship takes much time and energy, money and many other things to build. The more relationships a man has, the more time they would take from him, and the less time he would have for other things. The more relationships he builds, the less time he would have to invest in accomplishing the goal of his life. A man who is committed to accomplishing the goal of his life must build only the relationships that will contribute positively to helping him to accomplish the call of God on his life. He must not invest any time whatsoever, into the building of relationships for the sake of being related to people. This means two things. First of all, he will ask himself, "Which of my present relationships are helping me to accomplish the call of God on my life?" After the question has been asked, he will analytically assess all relationships in which he is involved. All those that are necessary for the accomplishment of the call of God on his life, will be maintained and all the others will be dropped. Secondly, he will ask himself, "Which relationship do I need to build in order to accomplish the call of God on my life?" He will prayerfully wait before the Lord, receive such relationships from Him and pay the price of building , strengthening and establishing them. The time thus invested, would have been well used.
There is the matter of people who visit and stay longer than necessary. There is also the matter of people staying up longer than necessary. Those who want to redeem time, must accept the risks that go with the redemption of time. One of these risks is that of being misunderstood. I am thinking of every Christian home having a poster on the wall of the sitting room which reads, "We sleep at..... in order to wake up at.... for our morning dynamic encounter with God." Visitors would read this and that will help them to know when they are to stop their visits. The members of the household will also read this and that will awaken them to get rid of any tendencies towards indulgence. DO NOT ALLOW PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING NOWHERE TO MAKE YOUR HOUSE OR ROOM INTO A PLACE OF GOING NOWHERE. Work out a method to keep them away. If you cannot succeed, labour to ensure that people who are going nowhere do not include you in their number. I remember that as an undergraduate student at Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone, I figured that if I was to accomplish my academic goal, part of the price that had to be paid was to go to bed at ten o'clock in the evening and be up at three o'clock in the morning for meditation, prayer and study. I decided that I would not tell any people who came into my room to go away. (I did not have the courage to do so). I just decided that at ten o'clock in the evening, I would go to bed. Sometimes, I left students chatting while I slept. When it was time for them to go away, they simply took my key, locked the door on going out and pushed the key through the lower part of the door into my room. I then woke up at three in the morning, picked up my key and put it in place. I had no courage then but I have more courage now and most of the time, I am able to tell people directly that their visit is over! The world's famous evangelist, George Whitefield said, "Couples who are going to heaven, go to bed before eleven o'clock in the evening so as to wake up before four o'clock for prayer." O that that counsel was applied today. It would save many from spiritual lethargy.
So fixed times of going to bed and fixed times for waking up must be made. This is indispensable for success in the Christian life. The apostle Paul said, "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things" (1 Corinthians 9:25). He again said, "I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:27). This exercising self-control in all things and this pommelling of the body" with regards to times of going to bed and times of waking up, is a mark of maturity and discipline. It is also indispensable for success.
In the ministry of a pastor-teacher, there are the many people who want to be counselled. The pastor-teacher has only a twenty-four hour day. (I wish they had a forty-eight hour day!) They must, therefore, redeem time, especially the time set aside for prayer, by resisting some of those who want to see them. There would be time set for prayer and time set aside for ministering to people. If when it is time for prayer someone should say, "I have a problem and want to see you about it now", you must redeem the time by telling him, "I have a more important problem. I have an appointment with the King of kings and I cannot afford to be late. I must go to that appointment at once." After you have said that, you should go away to pray, even though the devil may tempt you by saying to you, "You are too hard on people. You should have listened to that person. His problem might possibly be most urgent. Had you not better see him now and then pray afterwards?".
Those who do not pray now but plan to pray afterwards may never pray all. Appointments for prayer must be kept. There can no substitute for this.
As you might have realized, believers waste a lot of time at the end of meetings in godless chatter and gossip! Those who complain that worship, prayer and teaching time is too long, nevertheless, thoughtlessly spend much time after the meeting wasting God's time in careless chatter, thereby adding sin to sin. This ought not to be so. The next programme ought to begin immediately after the preceding one has ended. When a meeting is over, people should immediately go away to the next programme. The best programme after a teaching meeting should preferably be a prayer meeting where people cry to God to transform what they heard into revelation and the revelation into experience. This would be a proper way of redeeming time.
As part of the programme to redeem time, appointments should be made and the time set apart for them respected. The person who gets to the meeting late is not redeeming time. Someone has said that it is characteristic of leaders to be late. This is an unfortunate characteristic. It is a sinful characteristic. If the leader comes ten minutes late to a service in which there are two thousand people in attendance, he has destroyed a total of one hundred and thirty-nine days that belong to the people of God through his ten minutes of indiscipline. He should be prepared to account for such a tragic loss on the day of reckoning! This does not apply only to the leader. It applies to all believers, for there is a sense in which a service cannot fully begin until all who are to be in it are there.
We must make it our aim to spend more and more time with God and less and less time with people. The time spent with people should increasingly become ministry oriented. The person who is caught up with the Lord and His global interests, has no time for Christian socializing. He makes every visit to people ministry oriented. He goes to people prepared to discharge any of the following ministries depending on what the need may be:
and so on.
The believer must so walk with God and amongst men that immediately he appears people should say, "Behold he comes! We will receive ministry! Ministry is coming to us!"
The redemption of time is invariably tied to the planning of time. All who do not plan how they will use their time have planned to have their time stolen - wasted. Those who succeed, plan their time and then give all that they have to all that they want to do. They give their priority project their priority time. They pay the price! They impose severe discipline and severe limitations on themselves. O Lord, help me to impose severe limitations and severe discipline on myself. O Lord, help me to impose severe limitations and severe discipline on my time. I think of the Lord Jesus. His entire life was lived under a sense of severe discipline and unending compulsion. His whole life was an unending must "I must". He said, "I must be in my Father's house; I must suffer, I must work the works of Him who sent me" and so on. He did not give any time to things that were optional. He did not give any time to good, better or best things. He gave Himself to the "musts" of His life. He gave His time only to the musts of His life.
(From the book The Use of Time Part 2 pg 24)
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