As a type-A personality, I’m in the habit of maximizing every minute of my life—even when it’s to my own detriment. I enjoy reading about time-management, planners, and systems for managing work and personal goals. Work smarter, not harder, so the saying goes.
Lists of time-saving hacks on the internet grab our attention because they promise to increase our productivity. We aim to shave off time here and there from our obligations. We follow our favorite modern productivity guru to help us get it all done—in a shorter amount of time.
These hacks are appealing for various reasons. We may feel that we have too many tasks to accomplish in too little time. We may want to rush through the chores that we dislike so that we can do something more enjoyable. We also live in a culture that values productivity, which means that our companies and employers prioritize the bottom line.
Perhaps you, too, have developed your own systems to save time, systems honed through trial and error.
Is it possible to be too efficient, however? In the quest to perfect our own systems, it’s easy to default to our to-do list on autopilot, rather than actively seek God’s plan for the day. Our daily time-saving routines and schedules drown out God’s gentle nudges.
I know because I have been guilty of this. And in doing so, I have made an idol of efficiency.
But First Let Me…
“But first let me (do task X, Y, or Z) because it needs to get done.”
Have you ever said this to God? If so, you are hardly alone. Read with me in the book of Luke where Jesus is speaking to His potential followers:
He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-62 NLT).
Jesus doesn’t say that these responsibilities aren’t important. But He does ask these men to put Him first before these obligations. This story is a reminder to us to prioritize God before our predetermined plans. Let us not allow our drive for efficiency be a reason that we procrastinate on what God asks us to do. Let us not miss God altogether in striving to complete our task list.
Giving up an idol of efficiency may look different for each person. It could look like any of the following:
- Coming to peace with a half-finished to-do list everyday.
- Rearranging our “ideal” schedule because He has different priorities for us.
- Taking the time to help someone who “interrupts” our efficient workday.
- Rescheduling our remaining to-do list items for tomorrow so that we can stop to rest.
- Choosing to schedule less so that we have more margin to hear Him better.
- Accepting being less than perfectly efficient so that we have more flexibility to be available for Him.
By deliberately slowing down, we make the choice to live counter-culturally in our culture of efficiency. Let us choose to do what God puts in our heart without delay—no matter how inefficient. Then when Jesus says, “Come, follow me,” we won’t offer a litany of excuses. We will be able to respond with a wholehearted “Yes, Lord!”
Do you find yourself striving for efficiency and forgetting God in the process? If so, what are some ways that you can be “less efficient” this week to be more available for Him?
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)