Summer Wise – Summer Not
Week 3 – Surviving a Busy Schedule
Have you ever wondered where your day went, or asked, what did I get accomplished today? I did a little research to see where we are spending all our time. You might be surprised.
Did you know that over the course of our lifetime, the average person spends about 26 years sleeping and 7 years just trying to get to sleep! That’s 33 years in bed. And some of you still think that is not enough! We spend about 13 years working. We’re in front of some kind of a screen for more than 11 years of our life.
I am ok with this next one. Eating consumes 4 years 6 months. I think we should round that one up to at least 5 years. Then we get into the things that really cause us a great deal of stress. Like…Waiting in lines or in a que for up to 5 years, 4 years doing housework, 1 year looking for misplaced objects, and 6 months sitting at stop lights. Trains!
We are in week 3 of a series based on the book of Proverbs called Summer Wise – Summer Not. We are learning from the wisest man who ever lived – Solomon. Today we are going to see what Solomon had to say about surviving a busy schedule. I am NOT speaking as one who has this figured out personally. This continues to be a work in progress for me.
The book of Proverbs makes it clear that we can get control of our schedule. Today we will discover 3 Key Principles for Surviving a Stressful Schedule: If your schedule is full to overflowing, this message is for you. Because none of us have time to do everything. There are some tough decisions that need to be made.
Principle #1 for Surviving a Stressful Schedule: Establish clear PRIORITIES.
“Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” – Proverbs 17:24 (NLT) Another translation says that “an intelligent person keeps their eyes glued on wisdom. But a fool gets distracted and heads off in many directions.” He ha no clarity.
Can you relate? It doesn’t sound like Solomon would condone multi-tasking. Most of us are probably guilty of trying to do many things at once. How many of you remember those spinning plates at the circus or the fair? There would be a line of plates spinning on a stick. As a kid, I thought spinning the plate on a stick was the trick. But the real trick was to get several of them all spinning at once, and them keep them spinning. About the time you get one spinning, another starts to fall off.
I think that is a good representation of what we feel when we are trying to spin too many plates, by doing too many things, in our daily lives. Solomon says the fool’s eyes wander all over the earth and they go off in too many directions. To survive a stressful schedule, we must first establish our priorities and decide what’s most important because we simply don’t have time for everything.
“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.” – Proverbs 12:11 (NLT) Do you know anybody who chases foolish fantasies?
I am talking about the person who wastes time on useless projects. (GNT) This is about developing the ability to discern the difference between things that are urgent and things that are important. In some ways it is about learning the difference between activity and accomplishment. Some things are necessary while other things are not.
We must fight the urge to major on the minors. Some things aren’t necessarily WRONG, they’re just not NECESSARY. We have to learn how to establish clear priorities. “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” – Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) Proverbs teaches us to think through the direction of our lives. It is wise to look to the Lord for direction.
It’s amazing how many people write out a will, but they never write out any plans, future goals, or objectives for their life. It is like they’re better prepared for death than they are for living. You need a will. I think everyone ought to have a will. If you don’t have a will, get one. You will be doing yourself, your family, possibly your church, a huge favor. But we also need to plan out our life.
Here is why we need a plan…
We live our lives according to PRESSURES or PRIORITIES.
One of these things will dictate your day – PRESSURES OR PRIORITIES. The truth is, if you don’t establish your priorities, somebody else will establish them for you. Jesus modeled this. One day He was out praying, and the disciples found Him. They said, “Jesus! Everybody has been looking for You. (Mark 1). Let’s go back and do some more healing.” Jesus said, “No. It is time to move on. We’re going to the next town.” Jesus knew His priorities and He did not allow anyone else to determine them for Him.
Principle #2 for Surviving a Stressful Schedule: Lighten up your ATTITUDE.
We often think of stress as a day or an event. If we are not careful, stress quickly becomes a disposition or an attitude. That is why you can place two people in the exact same situation. One of them is cool, calm, and collected. The other is stressed out and uptight. What is the difference? It’s not the event. The event is the same for both. It’s about how they choose to handle things. Two different responses to the same set of circumstances.
“Worry weighs a person down.” – Proverbs 12:25a (NLT) We could easily interchange the word worry, for things like stress, anxiety, or fear. We need to lighten up and not take life so seriously. Humor is a great stress reliever. Some have called it life’s shock absorber. It doesn’t change the situation, but it changes your perspective and helps you handle it better.
I heard about a guy who was late for an appointment where he was to do a brief presentation. He drove around the block two or three times in a busy city, but he couldn’t find a parking space. He finally parked in a no parking zone and left a note on the car saying, “This is an absolute emergency. I promise – I guarantee it – I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.” He ran up the stairs, made his presentation, watching the clock the entire time. He was back to his car in twelve minutes flat, but there was a ticket on his window. At the bottom of the ticket the officer had written, “Take your time!”
The Bible says, Lighten up! Worry, anxiety, and stress weigh a man down. But “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body.” – Proverbs 14:30a (NLT) It sounds like Solomon is saying, A relaxed ATTITUDE can lengthen your life. We can all see how someone who is relaxed and at peace is going to be healthier, and probably live longer, than someone who is tied up in knots all the time.
Do you know why this is so important for us to get a handle on? This is going to surprise some of you. Things don’t always go as planned. Several years ago, I picked up a book called Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. The subtitle – It is all Small Stuff. It’ true, isn’t it?
Again, Jesus modeled the peaceful heart so well. There is no record of Jesus ever running or being in a hurry. He was never in a frenzy about what He had to get done. GET THIS – Jesus’ first public recorded words were when He was aged 12, “I must be about My Father’s business.” Jesus knew His purpose, even at age twelve! His last recorded words from the cross were, “It’s finished!”
“I must be about My Father’s business” at age twelve and at age 33 He could say, “It’s finished!” And yet, He was able to walk (not run) through life with a peaceful heart. There were still more people waiting to be healed. There were still more people waiting to be fed. There were still plenty of people who had not chosen to follow Him. But He was able to say, I am at peace. I have done what the Father sent me to do.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” – Proverbs 17:22 (NLT) Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is a slow death to be gloomy all the time.
Medical research confirms that there are positive chemical changes that take place in your mind when you are happy, and when you laugh, and even when you smile. I want to learn to relax and laugh more. I need to. That is easier said than done when you live your life under the gun all the time.
Two of the biggest causes of stress:
a) Trying to do too much.
b) Taking ourselves too seriously.
Principle #3 for Surviving a Stressful Schedule: Look UP TO GOD.
“Fear of the LORD lengthens one’s life…” – Proverbs 10:27a (NLT) Solomon, in his wisdom, offers us another powerful principle for life. In this case, fear is not about being scared. It is about reverence. Are you stressed out because of your schedule? Reverence for God adds hours to each day.
I am learning that stress is a pretty good indicator that I have taken my eyes off the Lord. I am looking at life through our circumstance instead of looking to the Lord. Whenever I feel like I need more time in the day, that usually is a reminder that what I
really need is more time with the Lord. I am trying to do too much. Time with God lengthens our life and expands our day.
Many of us understand this principle as it applies to the tithe. We give God the first ten percent of our increase, as an expression of worship, and a tangible way of demonstrating that God is first in our life. Those of us who do this believe God blesses the ninety percent and allows us to live better on 90% than if we had chosen to live on the full 100% of our income. I don’t know how God does it, but I believe that He does – TITHE CHALLENGE. So, why is it so hard to believe that when I give God the first part of my time, in a daily quiet time that includes prayer and Bible reading, He somehow expands my day?
Reverence means I take God seriously. He’s not an afterthought. He’s first. Maybe the reason we get under so much stress, in regard to our schedules, is because we take ourselves too seriously, and we don’t take God seriously enough. I hope you are making time to get to know God better. I’m not saying take time, I said make time.
You say, “I don’t have time to sit down and pray every day. I don’t have time to sit down and read the Bible.” If that is the case, then you are too busy! Study the life of Jesus. No matter how busy He was, Jesus always took time to pray. A daily quiet time is like a decompression chamber. It is a de-stressor. And isn’t it true, that you become like the people you spend the most time with?
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
“Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)
Who are you trusting to keep you on track? What are you seeking? God had promised to give us direction. He will guide us. He will direct us. He wants to show us which path to take. Will you allow Him to do that in your life? Corrie Ten Boom says, “If you look at the world you’ll be distressed, if you look within you’ll be depressed, if you look at Christ you’ll be at rest.”
Where is your focus today? What are you looking for? Who are you looking to? Are you focused on your circumstances, or the One who overcomes the circumstance? If you put Him first in every area, He’ll direct you. Watch the difference it will make.
I like the Japanese paraphrase of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Pacesetter; I shall not rush. He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals. He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity.
He leads me in the ways of efficiency through calmness of mind and this guidance is peace. Even though I have a great many things to accomplish this day, I will not fret for His presence is here. His timeliness is all important. He will keep me in balance. He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity. By anointing my mind with His oils of tranquility, my cup of joyous energy overflows. Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in His heaven forever.” – Japanese poet Toki Miyashina
Jesus asked this question: “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Mark 8:37 This is one of the most important questions Jesus ever asked. What will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Every day I am exchanging my TIME for something.
Every day I am exchanging my LIFE for something.
You think the most important asset is your money, but it’s not. It’s not your money. Money will come and go. You can make it again.
But you only have a limited number of hours left to live. You have a limited number of days – a limited number of years. Your time is your life. When you give away your time, you never get it back. You can either waste it – you can spend it – or you can invest it. The best use of your life is to invest it in something that’s going to last. What are you giving your time for? What are you giving your life for?
We have just enough time to do the will of God. You need to ask yourself, every time you do something, every time you invest your time in something, “Is this worth it? Is it worth my time Is it worth my life?” That’s what you’re giving for it. Is this worth thirty minutes of my life, or an hour of my life? What are you giving your life for? More important, who are you living for?
The Bible says that one day we’re going to stand before God and give an account for our lives. He’s not going to ask what you did for a living. I don’t believe He will ask what church you attended. According to scripture, He will want to know what you did you do with His Son, Jesus Christ. What did you give in exchange for your soul?
The issue for so many is not just that you have allowed your schedule to get out of control. Your life is out of control. You have never given control to the One who made you. You were not made to live apart from your Creator. God never intended for you to go through life just saying “Hi, God. Please stay on your side of the fence and I’ll stay on mine. That way we will get along just fine.”
I believe Jesus wants to bring your life into focus. He does that by helping us focus our time, our relationships, our money, our future, our past, our present, our future plans, and everything else. That’s what it’s all about. Establish clear priorities and put first things first. Lighten up your attitude. And most important of all…look up to God.
So, here is my question for you…Are you tired of living life stressed out from day to day? These are the words of Jesus…“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
What an incredible opportunity. And it is available to every one of us. God wants you to know you matter to Him. He loves you. He has a plan for your life. Maybe today you are beginning to realize that you have been trying to live a life outside of the plan He has for you.
If you’re living life stressed out all the time, would you like to accept Jesus’ invitation? He says, “Come to Me, if you’re tired, and weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. Learn of my plan for your life. My burden is light.” If you’re under a heavy burden, that is not His will for you.
Jesus said, “My burden is light.”
I think we get in trouble when we start trying to be God. We’re trying to be God when we start assuming responsibility that God never intended for us to carry. There’s no doubt about it, the Bible says, that anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down. Would you be willing to ask the Lord to help you establish priorities that are in alignment with His will for your life today? Perhaps you need to do some serious thinking about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life — whether you have five years or fifty years left.
The Bible says we should make plans, counting on Him to direct us. Then would you say, “Lord, would You help me to lighten up on my attitude.” A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life. We can learn to relax when we trust in God’s sovereignty (He is in control). Admit that He is God and we’re not. Then live like it. He’s in control and He’s still on His throne. The world will go on with or without us.
And most important of all, would you look up to God and say, “I don’t understand it all, but I really do want to live for You. I want to live the life you have for me.” Is the life I am currently living the life GOD HAS FOR ME? If we are honest, many of us would have to admit, the life we are living is not it. Would you be willing to exchange the life you are living, for the life He desires for you? If you’ve never invited Jesus into your life, I want to give you that opportunity right now.