by Jennie M. Xue, originally published by WKICU (Warga Katholik Indonesia California Utara)
Time is precious and considered a “commodity.” Whether at work or home, obligations and distractions can make us feel overwhelmed and, frequently, distance us from what matters. Claiming ourselves “busy” is, in fact, a popular excuse.
The concept of “time” itself is much more than that. Time isn’t merely “ours” it’s God’s.
Using this paradigm, in Catholicism, the essence of time revolves around the idea of “the right time”, or kairos in Greek. In the New Testament, the ultimate kairos is Salvation. On the contrary, the chronological time (human time) we’re accustomed to is called chronos.
About kairos, Ecclesian 3:1-8 wrote it well:
For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.
God’s time is never linear and is more about values than anything else. Thus, we must discern and weigh the value of each moment, which is reflected in each decision that results in thoughts, words, and deeds.
Cited from Marshall J. Cook in Time Management: A Catholic Approach, “Our decisions must begin by acknowledging that our lives belong to God. Prayer must guide them. And they must be rooted in an honest appraisal of our lives and a sincere desire to love and serve God. We must maintain a clear sense of our mission on earth: to love God and to love our neighbor. Everything flows from this.”
We can use these four tools for managing time as Catholics: self-awareness, organization, prayerful reflection, and purposeful action. Self-awareness is essential because it takes us a step back to assess how we manage our time. For this, we need to distinguish what is necessary and what isn’t.
Stephen Covey once stressed the importance of value-based time management, which can be categorized into essential and urgent. In the Old Testament, prophet Micah states that an activity is deemed “important” when we actively contribute to our mission to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
Next, the organization is crucial because it helps us keep track of what needs to be done when it needs to be done, and how long it will take. By having a plan, we can prioritize tasks based on their importance and time sensitivity. Remember, what’s “important”, according to lay experts like Covey, is different from God’s definition.
Prayerful reflection gives us time to slow down and reflect on our faith and values. This helps us reflect on whether an act or a decision is valuable for ourselves, fellow humans, and, most importantly, God. And whether it deepens our faith.
Finally, Catholics should be aware of purposeful action. It simply means taking proactive steps towards achieving our goals instead of merely responding to tasks as they come up or waiting for something to happen.
May our time management as Catholics grow each day. Amen.
Written by Jennie M. Xue, originally published by WKICU (Warga Katholik Indonesia California Utara)