A Christian's Guide to Time Management in the Workplace Part 1: The Big Stuff
Updated: Oct 11, 2020
Years ago, I heard a speaker say something that I had never heard before. Initially, it bothered me, and I fought it, but since then, I have come to not only agree with what he said, but I also promote it.
"Everyone is given 24 hours to be productive, both the rich person and the poor person alike."
The speaker continued on to describe why some people are wealthy and some are not. Why did I fight believing that phrase to be accurate? The answer was simple. I did not understand the value of time, let alone my time.
I was a people pleaser earlier in my life, and I thought that I had to do everything I could to make everyone around me happy during my 24-hour day. I bought into the belief that if everyone around me was not completely happy, then I was a failure. This false belief continued longer than I would like to admit, but one day it all came crashing down. After some incredibly significant relationships, both personal and professional ended, I had to face the reality that I was living a lie. I realized that I was fooling myself into thinking I could please everyone around me, family, friends, and my boss, along with co-workers. I was spending time helping people that did not value me or what I did for them.
Because of this false belief that I had chosen to embrace, I also wasted a significant amount of resources. Time is money. I overspent my time on things that were not as significant as things that would be considered extremely important. I failed to prioritize. Thankfully over the next several years, I would learn to use my time more constructively and bring Glory to God at the same time.
All successful people do this one thing exceptionally well: Time Management. God is no different.
If you were to study the principles of time management in the Bible, you would see several examples of Jesus being the ultimate "Time Manager."
"Woman, why does this involve us?" Jesus replied. "My hour has not yet come." John 2:4
…I am not going up for this feast because My time has not yet come. John 7:8
…but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. John 7:30
Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet arrived, but your time is always here”. John 7:6
"I am both Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:8
Jesus was keenly aware of His surroundings and the timing of events that would define His life. He knew early on that "His time," meaning the act of surrender on the cross, was for a set time, and every decision in His life would ultimately lead Him to that moment. By having that type of focus, Jesus owned His time and prioritized His every decision around it.
Time Management Principle: Understand what your life vocation is and God wants to accomplish with You.
Having this understanding will help you to focus your time and resources on the avenue that God wants you to embrace. If you are a student, focus your studies on topics that pertain to God's plans for you. Regardless of what outside pressure you feel to conform to, do not choose a vocation that God has not called you to undertake. If you come from a long line of plumbers, but God has called you to be an electrician, realize that God has a reason better than what your family can present for you to be an electrician. If God doesn't call you into the vocation of fulltime ministry in a church setting but rather to become an entrepreneur, no amount of ministry activity that you do will make up for your disobedience in not starting a new business. God needs you where He has designed you to be.
Time Management Principle: An emergency in somebody else's life does not mean it is an emergency in your life.
I have had situations at work when a boss or co-worker had a "Holy Crap Moment," and they expected me to come to the rescue. As Christians, we are to exemplify the Love of God and do works that bring others to Christ. However, the Love of God has also allowed for a place called Hell to exist, and it also has allowed for discipline and correction to be made and even forgiveness as a result of true repentance. Sometimes love hurts, and God's love is no different. A friendly “No” is better than a begrudging “Yes”.
If a boss comes to you with their hair on fire requiring a report or task to be completed immediately, how should you handle it in a way that glorifies God? Ask these questions of your manager:
1.) Is it more important than the projects that you are currently engaged in completing?
Sometimes leaders do not keep up with what you are working on now. The job you are doing at the moment might be more critical in the bigger picture. Explain to your boss in a non-complaining way what you are engaged in and ask if stopping that task will affect other outcomes in the department.
2.) What is it exactly that you are looking for in the report or task?
Understand the expectations and points of data required for the task. There is no point in doing unnecessary work if you do not have to.
3.) When do you need it?
Understanding time frames will dictate how soon you get rolling on this task. Maybe you can finish up your current job before moving onto the emergency project. Also, if the report is extremely time-sensitive, you may need to ask for additional help.
4.) How much detail do you need?
Craftsmanship is conveyed in attention to detail. Does your manager need a 30,000 ft view of a situation, or do they require a granular report with specific information? Knowing this will help you manage how much time and the depth of detail you need to dedicate to each factor that is being reported.
5.) Will this task become a reoccurring assignment?
This is a great question you should ask to avert future emergencies. If this is a one-time thing, then no harm, no foul. But if your boss expects this to be an ongoing report, do what you need to do to streamline the process for the next time you are tasked with this assignment. Ask for the expected frequency of the new assignment and plan for it. Doing so will make your life easier and put your boss at ease.
When a co-worker is coming to you with their hair on fire, begging you for help, you must decide who and what is essential at that moment. As a Christian, you are not less than Christ-like if you say "no" to their request. Jesus told many people that it was not the right time on several occasions, and one time His decision resulted in a person's death. Ask Lazarus' family about that time. Things to consider before agreeing to help your co-worker with their need:
1.) You are accountable for completing your tasks as outlined by your manager first.
If you alter chain of command, you are not honoring God's principle of honoring authority.
2.) Understand the nature of the emergency.
If their crisis is one that was unplanned like a family tragedy or a health situation, go to your boss with that co-worker and explain the situation. Discuss how you may have a solution that will allow your department to remain productive and will not diminish the work you are assigned to perform. Your manager may have a solution that you have not thought of, so be open.
3.) Ask yourself if helping this person demonstrate the Goodness of God?
You must utilize prayer and discernment in these situations because Satan knows how to use people to distract us from what God has called us to do. Always be loving, but also be wise.
4.) Would helping this individual violate your company policy or department protocol.
Every department in a corporation has individual budgets for the different departments. You need to realize that you are an asset to your specific division and department. If you are working with someone in another department, always understand where you end, and where they begin with a project. Your boss oversees utilizing and delegating the assets like yourself to drive profitability. Allow them to make the final call. If you fail to do so, you may be risking your witness for Christ, your reputation, and even your job.
5.) Can you help this person during a lunch break or before/after work when you would both be off the clock?
You don't have to change your schedule to meet their need. Some co-workers are prone to exaggerating needs and make mountains out of anthills. Do not play into their drama. If they can’t work with your schedule, then it may not be as much of an emergency as they convey.
6.) Is the emergency one that your colleague brought on themself?
Did they know this assignment was coming and chose to procrastinate or not prioritize? Some co-workers deserve mercy, and some co-workers deserve a hard lesson. If you do decide to help this person, define healthy boundaries about expectations going forward.
Learning how to incorporate Christian time management strategies at work is paramount. It involves learning about big picture thinking of corporate culture and knowing your abilities all while extending the Love of Christ. Allow yourself time to make mistakes and learn from these situations. Acknowledge God in these situations and allow Him to work through you.
In Part 2 of "A Christian's Guide to Time Management in the Workplace", we will discuss the more detail-oriented traits of time management in relation to tasks and how you can utilize certain skills to be more productive in the Kingdom and at Work.