This article was written by Jordan Raynor and published by Faith Driven Entrepreneur
I’ve said it, you’ve said it, I think every faith driven entrepreneur has said it at one point or another.
Maybe you’re in a season of feeling swamped right now. You roll out of bed each morning exhausted from not getting enough sleep. You pull open your phone to find a dozen text messages from the ridiculous to the exhausting. If you manage to squeeze in a few minutes of “quiet time,” you’re quickly interrupted by your calendar notifying you of today’s meeting that you didn’t have enough time to fully prepare for.
At work, the struggle continues. Your to-do list seems to be getting longer, not shorter. Your day is filled with back-to-back meetings with no time to think in between. When you are finally able to carve out some time to focus on some “real work,” that familiar ambient anxiety creeps in leading you to question if the project you’re working on is the “right thing” for you to be focused on at that moment.
After work, you rush back home to have dinner with your family. Sitting across from the people you care about the most, you’re there but not really there as your brain is trying to do the thinking you didn’t have time to do during the day. After dinner, it’s the mad rush of all rushes: clean-up, help the kids with their homework, and pray everyone finds time for a bath. After streaming your favorite show or squeezing in a few minutes of reading, you check email one last time and go to bed only to wake up and do it all over again the next day.
Of course, this is an extreme picture of what it looks like to be swamped, but I’m afraid it’s closer to reality than most of us care to admit. Increasingly, it feels like time happens to us—like we’re running a race that’s impossible to win. We feel beholden to our calendars, watches, and to-do lists, rather than having dominion over these tools which promised to make our lives easier and more productive. We have too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it. In short, we’re swamped.
The Bible tells us that more than 2,000 years ago, Jesus’s disciples were “swamped” in a different way. Luke 8:22-23 records the scene: “One day Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.”
You likely know the rest of the story. Jesus “got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm” (Luke 8:24).
This passage perfectly illustrates the core premise of this post, namely that the solution to the disciples being swamped by the wind and waves is the exact same solution to our being swamped by our to-do lists and hurried schedules. The solution to our perennial struggle with time management is found in Jesus Christ. How? In two ways.
First, Jesus offers you peace before you do anything. Nearly every time management expert says that the path to peace and productivity is found in implementing their system. This is what we might call “works-based productivity,” which claims that if you do exercises X, Y, or Z, then you will find peace. As Christ-followers, we can begin with the opposite premise in what we might call “grace-based productivity,” which says that through Jesus Christ, we already have peace (see Romans 5:1), and we do time management exercises X, Y, or Z as a response of worship.
Again, look at the disciples in the swamped boat. The disciples didn’t do anything to calm the chaos. They merely trusted Jesus to still the storm. You and I can do the same. By trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, we have “peace with God” (Romans 5:1) that is secure regardless of how productive we are or how well we steward our time.
This is how the gospel is our ultimate source of rest. But when we experience that rest, we will find that the gospel also makes us wildly ambitious to do the will of the Father. Why? Because working to earn someone’s favor is exhausting. But working in response to unconditional favor is intoxicating. For the Christian, the key to being wildly productive is realizing that you don’t need to be productive.
Here’s the second way that Jesus is the solution to our time management problems: Jesus shows us how God would manage his time. John Mark Comer has pointed out that in the modern Church, we tend to read the gospels for their theology and ethics. But we forget that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are biographies of the life of Christ—the Author of time and the most productive person to ever walk the earth.
Now, of course, the gospel biographies do not show Jesus walking around with a to-do list, calendar, or smartwatch. But they do show him having to prioritize where he spent his time, dealing with distractions at work, fighting for solitude, and seeking to be busy without being hurried. In other words, the gospels show Jesus facing many of the same challenges we face today as we seek to redeem our time. And because he was infallible God, we can assume that Jesus managed his time perfectly, providing us with the ideal model to follow. We would be wise to study the gospels through this biographical lens to see just how Jesus was able to be so purposeful, present, and productive.
Feeling swamped today? Remember that Jesus has already given you peace that is secure regardless of how you perform today. And look to the gospels for a model for being purposeful, present, and productive in the model of your Redeemer.