I'm a sucker for time-management books.
Some people can't say no to a salesman at the door. Others have the hardest time passing up a free puppy . . . or driving by a garage sale without stopping. Still others find it almost impossible to withstand the urge to gamble. Not me. My weakness is books on the investment of my time. Books that tell me how to replace being busy with being effective. Books that caution me to think things through before plunging into them. I often recall what Bernard Baruch once said:
Whatever failures I have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatever follies I have witnessed in private and public life, have been the consequences of action without thought.
The antidote to that problem is described best by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians:
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. (5:15–17 MSG)
Verses like those always grab my attention. Some alarm down inside my system goes off whenever I sense a waste of energy in what I'm doing—when there is some leak in my time dike I have failed to plug. Without wanting to be neurotic about it, I get a little nervous when I think I am not living purposefully, when I am failing to make the most of every opportunity, as Scripture so clearly commands. The verse that appears just before the passage I quoted shoves a long, pointed index finger into the chest of its reader as it shouts:
"Awake, sleeper." (5:14)
Today, we'd say it like this: "Hey, wake up. Get with it, man!" The easiest thing in the world is to drift through life in a vague, thoughtless manner. God says there's a better way. He tells us to take time by the throat, give it a good shake, and declare: "That's it! I'm gonna manage you—no longer will you manage me!"
That attitude is a first step and a major secret to living above our circumstances rather than under them.