By Elizabeth Prata
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
The King James Version has the phrase ‘redeeming the time.’
As I age, I get tired quicker. As I age as a Christian, I feel an undeniable temptation to let my energy for spiritual disciplines flag, and to just coast. Yet we must always be expending energy, not squandering it- these verbs are active: walking, being vigilant, watching, pursuing holiness, seeking truth…all these are active verbs that describe how we are to be as growing Christians. And there is no arrival. Until the day we die, we are growing, never finished. So, obviously, there is no such thing as coasting.
We all feel a desire to make the most of our time. Even prior to salvation, we want to be good employees and not “slackers”, which is a negative word. As moms and dads, we desire to live in a well-run family in an orderly and productive home. As people in general, we feel guilt and sadness when we let day after day, year after year go by with nothing to show. We are happier when we are productive.
That said, here are a few helps along those lines- redeeming time in pursuit of productivity for the Lord
Jonathan Edwards’ note taking system: This was extremely interesting. I did wonder how Edwards manage his 1500 or so miscellanies, how did he know where each one was when he wanted to look them up. This short video explains it all. If you take seminary notes, Bible study notes, sermon notes, or take notes while you are reading the Bible or a theological book, this note-taking system is genius.
Reagan Rose at the Redeeming Productivity podcast has 10 tips for reading better. Some of these I already do, others were helpful to me. Like, read in the same place and at the same time every day. This helps carve new habit grooves in your mind. Your mind expects to read when you settle into the spot you’ve picked. I have a chair by the window, with a bookcase next to it and a lamp on top. I can set my tea on the bookcase, the light is good and the chair is comfortable. Most importantly, it’s away from the computer, so I won’t be distracted – except by the cat trying to get into my lap, lol. Mr Rose is easy to listen to and his ‘reading better’ tips are practical and helpful. We are a reading people, of the Book. Redeem your reading time.
He mentioned that some of the tips come from the book How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. I have this book and it is good. Recommended.
Reagan Rose at Redeeming Productivity also wrote an essay companion piece to the above podcast, Re-learning to read. He starts this way-
Christians are readers. God’s revelation has come to us in book form. The Word is foundational to the Christian faith as a whole, and to our faith as individuals. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). So it is incumbent upon us to be good readers.
Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke is also useful. It’s similar to the Adler/Van Doren book but lighter.
I should warn you though. Reinke, Adler, and Rose all recommend marking in your books, writing in them, making notes and using symbols, and even dog-earing the pages. O the horra! Cover your ears when you get to those parts! Seriously though, Rose via Adler makes a compelling argument why marking in your books helps comprehension and recall. (Still not gonna do it).
Tim Challies has a teaching series called Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity. The paperback is at Amazon, Kindle version is only $5.70, and the course is at Ligonier (classes are only $9 or so for the entire teaching series of the class you want to take). Challies wrote:
I am no productivity guru. I am a writer, a church leader, a husband, and a father with many responsibilities and with new tasks coming at me all the time. I wrote this short, fast-paced, practical guide to productivity to share what I have learned about getting things done in today’s digital world.
The end of 2019 is approaching and oftentimes our thoughts turn to the new year, a fresh start, trying something new or resolving to be better in some way for upcoming time. I hope some of these resources help you if you decide to be more productive for the Lord. We only are given so many days on earth and then when we face Jesus, we will see through a glass clearly about how we spent our time.
I’ll be turning 59 in a few weeks. Looking at 60 makes me wonder what happened to the last 30 or 40 years. They truly have gone by in a flash. When I face Jesus I know I will be embarrassed and crushed that I didn’t ‘do more, better’ for the fame of His name. The spirit is willing, but my flesh has been so weak. Nevertheless, we all stumble in many ways, and I pray and strive to make 2020 more productive. I hope these resources may help you if this is an area in which you wish to excel.