The 2nd decade of the 3rd millennium will soon be over. The last 20 years have changed our lives, in many ways beyond recognition. Who remembers analog television sets, cassette tapes, and land phones? On the other hand, some things haven’t changed. As the 21st century carries on, time remains our most precious commodity, which cannot be saved, stored, or recycled. Other things that haven't changed include the activities we do (or don’t do) that conspire to slow us down, affect our productivity, and steal precious time from us.
A Long Time Ago
In the last century, management writer Myron Rush asked a group of Christian leaders to identify the activities most likely to steal their time. Rush summarized the responses into a list of "time-robbers." Decades later, some have become irrelevant, after all, who has land lines anymore? Others remain and continue to rob Christian leaders of their time and effectiveness in ministry, and ultimately, the Kingdom of God. The list below is loosely based on Rush’s original time robbers, contextualized to our digital, fast paced, ever changing era of life.
- PROCRASTINATION. Some things don’t change. Our human tendency to put things off until it is too late is one of those stubborn habits that refuses to go away. In a time when we have the best management tools available, leaders still have to contend with this one on a daily basis.
- SOCIAL MEDIA. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and a host of other social websites draw us "like" those clickbait headlines we have become accustomed to. They are extra-dangerous because they can easily become addictive and steal our precious time.
- CELL PHONES. One of the original time robbers was interruptions on the phone, which has been amplified since we now carry the telephone in our pockets. This is the age of 24 / 7 work, when we get bombarded with calls or messages at every hour of the day. Ironically, cell phones have caller ID and voicemail, which are the best tool to screen calls and protect us from interruptions, should we choose to use them.
- ENTERTAINMENT. Television wasn’t on the original list, but it should be. Today we live in the era of streaming video and “binge watching,” which can be a major distraction.
- POOR PLANNING. This is an original time robber, which hasn’t changed. Today, as in the past, great leaders are meticulous and even obsessive about planning every hour of their lives. Effective stewardship of our time is directly proportional to how detailed we plan our daily activities.
Maybe this is because I am getting older, but do you notice how time seems to be passing at a faster pace every day? Every year seems to be shorter, although we know it is always the same 12 months and 365 days. The fast-paced passing of time reminds me each day that we have a responsibility to manage our time wisely, according to Biblically sound priorities so the purpose for our lives here on earth may be fulfilled.