Discovering a Healthier Theology of Time

Mark Tidsworth, Pinnacle President

“There’s not enough time to do all that needs to be done.”

“This church requires a lot from its pastor – more time than is available.”

“My list is always longer than the time I have available.”

“The primary reason I moved to a new call was to get myself out of the overwhelming obligations which accumulated up over my eight years there.”

“There are so many new initiatives we need to get started. How can we find the time for them?"

“There are so many things I want to accomplish before life’s done, and now at age 45, I’m afraid I will run out of time.”

These, and many others, are statements we hear from motivated leaders in our leadership coaching. By listening, one would think time’s being rationed this year. Somehow, somewhere, the space/time continuum has been altered so that people in 2014 have less time available. When we listen to ourselves, we realize we are telling ourselves there is simply not enough time.

But is this so? Is this a healthy belief system around time? Does God intend for us to lead hurried and anxiety-filled lives; fretting over the slow pace of our progress? If we were to observe the lives of motivated leaders, filled with urgency over the goals to be accomplished, one would think so.

When Pinnacle first began (5.5 years ago now) I and our Associates had a list of actions pages long. We were excited about everything; intending to do everything related to coaching, consulting, and training. Still, we remain excited and motivated, but we were forced to examine our theology. Like many clergy and church staff, the To Do List is always longer than the time available. Since nurturing healthy family and friendship relationships, physical fitness, and spiritual fitness are also values we carry….a vocational crises arose.

This crisis led to a question. I realize now that the framing of the question held the answer within it.

“Does God provide enough time to do what God calls us to do?”

More specifically: “Does God call us to do something which is so consuming that we lose our spirituality, faith, relationship with spouse and children, physical fitness, health (and so on) in the process?”

Wrestling with these questions led to this statement:

“God provides enough time to do what God calls us to do.”

Interpretation: There may be many activities and initiatives we want to do, but are not central to our callings. There may be many activities and initiatives which are worthy, and someone should do them, but not us. There may be many activities and initiatives which are interesting and engaging, but are peripheral to our callings. There are many activities others may ask, suggest, or tell us to do, but are not essential to our callings.

So, this is what I believe about time now: There is enough time to do what God calls me to do, even remaining somewhat sane and healthy in the process.

The result – a big sigh of relief and a boatload of comfort. The amount of time available hasn’t changed. My relationship to time is different; informed by a healthier theology.

May we receive the time we have as God’s good gift, living into it with vigor – and with peaceful acceptance.

Mark Tidsworth, President, PLA