Coping With Today’s Hectic Pace
A WORKING man spends his weekends watching football games on TV and then complains he has no time to take his children to the zoo. A housewife religiously follows a TV serial week after week and then bemoans having so little time to care for her household chores. Is the problem a lack of time or the poor use of it?
Good management of time requires following the principle stated in the Bible at Philippians 1:10: “Make sure of the more important things.”
Yes, first set your priorities so that if something must be neglected, it will be something relatively unimportant. Try making a list of all the tasks to be performed in, say, a week and divide them into two categories: (1) What I must do and (2) What I would like to do.
Secular work, shopping, and household repairs, as well as spending time with the family, would fall into the first category. For the true Christian, attending congregation meetings, sharing one’s faith with others, and Bible study should also be given priority.—Matthew 6:33.
If the list seems overwhelming, perhaps some must-be-done activities are really not so necessary after all. Or you might try combining activities. For example, if you have household chores, why not teach your children how to do some of them? This not only will increase your capacity to get things done but will give you precious moments to enjoy with your children.
But what about the list of things you would “like to do”? The possibilities are enormous. Yet you simply cannot do everything. So calculate the expense of such activities. (Luke 14:28) Will they reduce—or add—stress to your life? Will they add to the burden of household expenses? Might they interfere with things that need to be done?
Avoid the snare of overscheduling yourself—cramming in so many things that you run around frantically. Allot yourself sufficient time in which to accomplish your tasks. A retired building contractor gave a sound piece of advice to a young man whom he had invited for a cup of tea. The young man declined the invitation, saying: “I have to be downtown at 4:50 p.m.”
“What kind of appointment is that?” the contractor asked. “Try to make your appointments for full hours,” he advised, “or otherwise you can run yourself to death.”
Why Coping Is Difficult
These suggestions may prove helpful. But remember that stress and hurry are just the legacies of the “hard to deal with” times in which we live. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Today’s world is truly a world in a hurry. But the fact that human relations are deteriorating and world problems are proliferating shows that all this hurry is getting people nowhere.
Actually, the world is living on borrowed time. “The time left is reduced,” the Bible warns. (1 Corinthians 7:29) Jesus Christ pointed forward to this very time in which we are now living, saying that the present world distress is evidence that his Kingdom is at hand. (Luke 21:10, 11, 28-31) Satan the Devil therefore has “great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) His entire world system is rushing toward destruction, and all his attempts to prevent this are for nothing!
True, there is little you can do about the direction in which the world is heading. But you can do much to ensure peace and tranquillity in your own life. No, tranquilizing drugs are not the answer; nor do time-management techniques work for everyone. Far more helpful are knowledge and understanding of the Bible. The Bible?
Yes, for the Bible indicates that it is desirable for Christians to go on leading “a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousness.” (1 Timothy 2:2) Is that possible? It is, for though you are still subject to the pressures of these critical “last days,” the Bible can help you develop a fresh perspective on life.
Take your job as an example. If your life revolves around “godly devotion and seriousness” rather than material things, you won’t be in a big hurry to accumulate things your cannot afford. Knowing that “the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things,” you can be content with “sustenance and covering.” (1 Timothy 6:8, 10) And because your job will occupy only a secondary place in your life, you may even make time for needed rest and relaxation. “Better is a handful of rest than a double handful of hard work and striving after the wind.”—Ecclesiastes 4:6.
Some are able to cut back on their secular work. One man who was the director of a large firm recalls: “After 23 years of exertion, I had a good salary, free health care, good pension, and so forth. But to get all these things, you have to spend more and more time and energy at your job. Eventually you have no time of your own. And anytime something other than work is set before you, you find yourself saying, ‘I am sorry, but I am much too busy.’” So this man left his prestigious post. True, this meant a simpler life-style. But it also meant more time for his family and Christian activities.
Setting Proper Priorities
In view of the critical times in which we live, a true Christian cannot have a casual attitude toward spiritual matters. Consider Zacchaeus, a man the Bible calls a rich tax collector. Desiring to know more about Jesus, he once climbed a tree to get a better look at him as he passed through town. The account reads: “Now when Jesus got to the place, he looked up and said to him: ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and get down, for today I must stay in your house.’ With that he hurried and got down and with rejoicing he received him as guest.”—Luke 19:2-6.
Imagine the benefits Zacchaeus received by entertaining Jesus and discussing spiritual matters with him! Jesus helped Zacchaeus set his priorities in order, so that Zacchaeus stopped placing emphasis on obtaining material things. “Look! The half of my belongings, Lord, I am giving to the poor,” he told Jesus, “and whatever I extorted from anyone by false accusation I am restoring fourfold.”—Luke 19:8.
True Christians today are likewise eager to take advantage of opportunities to discuss spiritual things. No longer is gaining material things a major priority with them. Rather, when they receive Christian publications that help them to learn about God and his purposes, reading them becomes a priority. And when there are meetings of fellow Christians, they strive not to miss a single minute of instruction and upbuilding fellowship.
Another good example for us is that of Lot. God’s angel had warned him that Sodom and Gomorrah were to be destroyed. Showing loving interest in others, Lot “began to speak to his sons-in-law who were to take his daughters, and he kept on saying: ‘Get up! Get out of this place, because Jehovah is bringing the city to ruin!’” But Lot himself “kept lingering,” prompting the angel to urge him to escape to God’s place of safety without delay, saying: “Hurry! Escape there, because I am not able to do a thing until your arriving there!”—Genesis 19:14, 16, 22.
Today’s world has taken on global Sodom and Gomorrah dimensions and likewise faces destruction. That is why warning others about this coming destruction foretold in the Bible is a priority in the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Will you put as a priority in your life the investigation of this warning?
Hurrying about in vain pursuits will surely gain you nothing but heartache and nervous distress. Far better it is to learn about God and his purposes to bring about a new system of things wherein life will no longer be a mad rush!—2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 65:17, 21-25; Psalm 37:10, 11.
In the meantime, learn to be productively, not frantically, busy. And when it comes to learning about God’s purposes, don’t delay! Put it as your first priority!
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Wise Warnings Against Improper Haste!
“He that is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent.”—Proverbs 28:20.
“The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage, but everyone that is hasty surely heads for want.”—Proverbs 21:5.
“Have you beheld a man hasty with his words? There is more hope for someone stupid than for him.”—Proverbs 29:20.
“Do not hurry yourself as regards your mouth; and as for your heart, let it not be hasty to bring forth a word before the true God.”—Ecclesiastes 5:2.
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Haste is often caused by poor scheduling of time and having too many things in one’s schedule
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Jesus helped Zacchaeus set proper priorities in his life