Your Best Season Of Life

  • 30 March 2016
  • Keith Reed

My wife and I sometimes wonder what we spent our time doing before our children were born. We don’t remember feeling troubled by an abundance of time, but compared to what we now experience, it’s hard to understand our earlier years any other way. Revisionist history now tells us that we must have read dozens of books each month and weren't unsurprised by the sound of silence.  

It can be habitual to think that life was easier when we look in the rearview mirror. I know of many parents who bemoan their shortage of time and the increased responsibilities that they now bear. This is usually compounded by the guilt they carry from no longer devoting as much time to the spiritual practices they think “count” such as personal Bible reading and prayer. Not surprisingly, any activity that requires personal time is likely to take a significant hit when anyone becomes a care taker for a young child (my golf game is a perfect example).

Comedian Jim Gaffigan defines children as young humans constantly making noise. He would know since he and his wife share their two-bedroom apartment with their five kids.

If quiet time is so hard to come by, what can a parent do to have Christ formed within them?

John Ortberg suggests that our season of life is not a barrier to our spiritual growth because our growth should not be defined by prescribed activities. Parents may have limited opportunities for quiet time, but as they care for their child they can offer expressions of gratitude, prayers for help, and the patient acceptance of trials. This, Ortberg argues, might become a kind of school for transformation into powerful servanthood beyond anything a person might have otherwise known [1]. 

It can be tempting to define unexpected or unwanted circumstances in our lives as barriers to our spiritual growth, but these can actually be the very catalysts for our growth. We can choose to devote each season of our life to the transforming work of the Spirit.

Some of our circumstances come through our choices, but we live with other realities that we had no choice of. Either way, every season of our life counts. If we find ourselves wishing away a particular season, we’re actually wishing away our very life.

Instead of wishing we were in another season, let’s discover what this one offers. Because the best season of your life is now.

Keith Reed is the Associate Director of MinistryLift at MB Seminary

My New and Improved To-Do List

  • 1 February 2016
  • Keith Reed

Every person has their preferred way of keeping their to-do list, but what most systems don’t have is a way of defining what item gets priority. Is your list arranged by importance, deadlines, or what’s easiest to do? The danger of not accounting for priority is that you might think you had a productive day, when you actually didn’t gain any ground on your most important assignments.

I recently adopted a new way of tracking my tasks that is based on Stephen Covey’s third habit in his popular book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In order to “put first things first” Covey suggests using four quadrants to organize your responsibilities. I have been familiar with this concept for years, but had assumed his method worked best for big picture thinking and large project management. What I have found is that it works just as effectively for weekly to-do lists.

Covey’s Time Management Matrix captures how people spend time. The two defining factors are urgency and importance. Urgent matters require immediate attention, such as an approaching deadline or a ringing phone. Urgent things are usually visible and they act on us.

Conversely, importance has to do with results. You can be assured that something is important if it contributes to your mission or the goals that have been given highest priority.

As a general rule, we react to urgent matters, but important matters require us to act. 

Take a look at the four quadrants below and think about how much time you spend in each quadrant.

Here is Covey’s overarching principle: “Effective people stay out of Quadrant 3 and 4 because, urgent or not, they aren’t important. They also shrink Quadrant 1 down to size by spending more time in Quadrant 2.” 

But how can we do this? It wouldn’t be healthy to radically alter your approach to time management overnight, but there are gradual steps you can take to use your time more effectively.