Stewardship: It's All About Time

The basic equation of stewardship is TIME + TALENT = LIFE. These two elements are essential to life. Money is merely a convenient medium for storing and transporting time and talent. So giving a monetary gift is symbolic of giving a portion of our life — certainly a worthy act of worship and devotion.

Time is the equal opportunity ingredient in stewardship. Every person receives equal time. I realize we do not all live the same length of time, but while we are alive we each have exactly the same amount of time. We all have 60 seconds in every minute, 60 minutes in every hour and 24 hours in every day.

Because time is life, God considers it of the greatest importance. "Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time," (Christ Object Lessons, Ellen White, 342).

Where do you and I waste our time? Do I waste time on television? Commuting or travel time? Sleeping too much? Not getting enough sleep? Not enough exercise? Lack of planned priorities? Doing easy but unimportant tasks? Meetings? Saying "yes" too often? Saying "no" too often? Over socializing? Lack of organization? Looking for lost items? Being overly neat? Perfectionism? Failing to delegate? Worrying? Avoiding decision making? Have you had at least a toe or two stepped on?

In the lives of busy people no question is asked more frequently than, "Where has the time gone?" It is not really the right question. Time does not leave and go somewhere. We are really asking, "How could I have planned so poorly and have left so much to be done in so little time?" We too often say, "I don't have the time," instead of admitting we don't think it of sufficient priority to take the time. We always have time for the things that are important enough to us.

Since God created the world and everything in it, our time belongs to Him. With our means he requires one tenth as an acknowledgment of God's Ownership. With our time He requires one seventh (the Sabbath) as a test of our obedience to God's law. Beyond the tenth of our income He encourages us to give freewill offerings as a demonstration of our love and faith. Beyond the seventh of our time He gives us the opportunity to make additional gifts of time to demonstrate our love and faith.

It is easy to feel guilty about our wasted time. Gladly would we redeem it, but time once passed is gone forever. However, God has made provision even for this. "The only way in which we can redeem our time is by making the most of that, which remains, by being co-workers with God in His great plan of redemption."

Paul explains this "redeeming of time" as understanding the will of the Lord," (Ephesians 5:16, 17). As my mentor Mel Rees once explained to me, "This means that those who did not know God's will can now become faithful stewards by knowing His will and doing it. They would be forgiven of their past laxness and judged by their faithfulness from the point of this recognition."

"We always have time for the things that are important enough to us."

March 01, 2010 / Editorial
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Max Torkelsen II, North Pacific Union Conference president