When it comes to giving our money to the church, my husband and I have tried to abide by two basic principles: 1) Give generously on a consistent basis, and 2) Budget our money in a way that allows us to be generous at unexpected times. For instance, say that a family in the church has an urgent financial need. We don’t want every penny to be so accounted for at the beginning of each month that we’re unable to help them. We want to have the freedom to give if such a need arises.
Granted, we don’t have a lot of money. Many of you reading this may not either. But these two principles of generosity can apply to more than just money. They can, for instance, apply to our time as well. While a lot of Christians do pretty well on the first principle–giving of their time to the church–I’m not sure many of us allow enough breathing room for those unexpected needs. Sure, if the need is urgent enough we’ll skip Bible study or miss work, but in doing so we’re only making life more hectic. We’re adding to the chaos instead of drawing from an overflow.
This is something I’ve come to reflect on a lot as I’ve cut down on my schedule these past few months. When someone has really needed me, I can give of my time freely without having to rework a thousand tiny details. But even more importantly, I can be totally present with others. I’m not tired or stressed so I can be more attentive and caring. My patience is less easily tested and I can have the clarity of mind to channel the Holy Spirit in my words, rather than speak out of the jumbled mess in my brain.
Life’s unexpected needs and emergencies don’t always occur on a schedule, so we need to account for that in the way we plan our days. And if an emergency doesn’t come up, then that’s time you can spend with God, friends, or family just allowing yourself to rest. Resting itself is an investment in the quality of your time at work and with others.
So be generous with your time, but not so generous that you stop being generous. That sentence makes me laugh to look at it, but that’s exactly what I mean to say. We must be wise, discerning and selective with the precious few hours that God gives us each day. Otherwise, our own plans for generosity might end up conflicting with God’s.
For a great passage on this, check out Luke 10:38-42. When it comes to time management, are you a Martha or a Mary? Most of us are Martha’s and we oddly pride ourselves in that fact, but Jesus doesn’t. Busy does not equal better. Sometimes busy means little more than distracted and ineffective.