Busy? Stressed? Pressured? Jesus knows how you feel. He had a crazy deadline too: he had just three years to build a ministry and spread the Truths that could save people’s souls. He had no money, no staff (except a group of bickering, untrained disciples) and plenty of opposition. Plus, people wanted to kill him.
But throughout his mission, Jesus remained calm, clear, and fulfilled—and it was this demeanor that inspired confidence. He was a leader, and he created leaders. Here are lessons wecan learn from Jesus on Time Management.
1. Jesus knew his mission.
Jesus knew what he was sent to do. The Devil tempted him, of course, with all sorts of other goals—wealth, fame, power. He stood his ground.
We’re tempted too, maybe not by the Devil on the mountain top, but by conflicting demands and competing aspirations. Envy has a lot to do with it. ‘I want what she has!’ (a bigger house? a higher position? a gorgeous boyfriend?) and we run out and pursue it, leaving behind the dreams that can really make us happy.
The secret to Jesus’ success is that he defined it in its own terms. Not the Devil’s, not even his well-meaning followers’. They wanted him to overthrow the Roman government. Political freedom is a good goal, when you think about it, but he was aiming for spiritual freedom—and he didn’t his message and resources trying to accomplish both. He knew how to say no.
2. Jesus invested in people, not things.
Today we have all sorts of time management tools and gadgets: fancy phones, fast computers, portable everything. Somehow we hope that these things can make us more productive and efficient. (If that’s the case, why are we more stressed now?)
Jesus, on the other hand, put his bet on people. In fact, to stress his point, he chose his disciples from the poorest of the poor, who had nothing—not even a fancy MBA—to give them any sort of competitive advantage. But he talked to them. He broke bread with them. He gently admonished them when they did something wrong, and by example and teaching, transformed them (literally!) into people who could work miracles.
We can do the same. Our gadgets are great, but they can’t write reports, negotiate with clients, generate ideas. People can. Let’s empower those around us to do their work faster, better, and with less mistakes. Let’s invest in creating trust and loyalty so they’ll do their best, because they share a dream. Let’s generate a culture of excellence. (Find out how in this article on 5 Spiritual Principles that can Transform the Workplace.)
3. Jesus didn’t care about approval.
Jesus did not spend time arguing with the church leaders on scripture. He wasn’t affected by the ridicule of relatives or neighbors from Nazareth. And he didn’t care, really, if he was talking to a crowd of 10,000 or 100. He wasn’t after popularity ratings. He just did his work, said his thing, and allowed others to choose whether or not they would believe.
On the other hand, how much energy and time do we spend trying to defend ourselves and gain the admiration and approval of others? (Find another way to deal with critical people.) How much energy do we waste on….ego? We fritter away unnecessary hours on a report just because we want it to be the best in the pile. We moan and groan about how other people never recognize what we do for the company.
Jesus didn’t need that because his self-fulfillment came from one thing alone: ‘I am doing my Father’s work.’ Luckily, we can do the same. Your boss may be crazy, your clients may be unreasonable, your quotas unreachable—but if you can see, in the day to day drudgery, that your work is given to you by God, and your work experiences are a chance to see and serve God—you will find a great peace and an unshakeable joy.
4. Jesus didn’t let himself be trapped by systems.
Jesus was quite a rebel, ignoring social and religious conventions. He spoke to Samaritans. He treated women equally. He didn’t kowtow to the highly ritualized practices or the lines of church authority. Can you imagine if he had? He would have preached at temples, not fields, because that was the proper thing to do. He would have turned away lepers and non-Jewish followers: ‘I’m sorry, you’re not under my jurisdiction.’ He would’ve asked the Pharisees to review his teaching and sign (in triplicate) to show that his ideas were sanctioned by ‘upper management.’
Of course we need to follow corporate systems, to some extent, and it’s career suicide to tell a boss to go stuff his reports up his fat, er, desk. But what we can learn from Jesus is an openness to new ideas, the courage to express them, the wisdom to see which rules work, and which need to be discarded in light of new developments and greater goals.
5. Jesus knew when to be alone.
He prayed. Constantly. And sometimes, he would escape the crowds and sit quietly—even as thousands clamored for his attention—because he knew he couldn’t take care of them if he didn’t take care of his personal and spiritual needs first.
He gave similar advice to Martha. Oh, how hard she worked to prepare the house for his arrival. Washing, cleaning, cooking—all the details and errands that consume our everyday lives. She was angry that Mary didn’t help. Her lazy sister just sat at Jesus’ feet, listening. But Jesus reminds her what is important. The cooking can wait—first, we must feed our spirit, soul, sense of well-being (whatever you want to call it.)
God knew when to stop. Do we?