How you manage your time depends on who or what you put first. Does your family come first or does your job? And what about God? Ideally, our priorities will be God, family, and work, in that order. But with only 24 hours in a day, it’s hard to know how to give everyone their due. So here are some tips on wise stewardship of one of the biggest blessings God has lavished upon us — our time.
How Do We Put God First?
How do we thank God for every breath that we take while still fulfilling the ordinary duties of our day? Go to him first. If you have time as soon as you wake up in the morning, take ten or fifteen minutes to pray. Ask him for help, for strength, for patience, for compassion. If you don’t have time, just tell him in a few words that everything you do today is meant for him. Offer yourself to him, and let him take care of the rest.
When there’s a conflict between religious duties and family or work obligations, don’t be afraid to put religious duties first. You might be surprised how things turn out. On a particularly busy day a few weeks ago, I was torn between going to church for a morning prayer event or finishing up my writing. Following the advice of an older, wiser friend, I “put God first” and chose to attend the church event. Somehow the writing got done as well without too much additional effort or sacrifice. Trust God to safeguard your time. He knows what a valuable resource it is.
How Do We Put Family First?
St. Joseph had the luxury of taking his son Jesus to work with him, of inviting him to the carpenter’s workbench in their home, and training him and taking him on jobs when Jesus grew older. Stay-at-home moms have the same luxury of combining their family with their work. But people who work outside the home can’t merge their priorities as easily. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, however, family is never further than a phone call away.
My husband Manny commutes to work in New York City, and at noontime almost every day he takes a break to call me and say the lovely sequence of prayers known as the Angelus. The littlest children are usually at home with me, and we put Daddy on speaker phone so everyone can say the Hail Marys together. My friend Connie did something similar when her husband took extended business trips. Every day, he called home and spoke to each of their ten kids to remind them that he loved them and was thinking of them. It doesn’t have to take long to show our family how much they matter to us.
Don’t Make Work Your Idol
Through work, we use the talents that God gave us to serve others. By working conscientiously and well, we express our gratitude to God for the gifts he has given us. But we should never turn work into an idol, something to be done for its own sake, or — worse — a means of building a monument to our own supposed greatness.
“Work is for man, not man for work,” states the Catechism. In other words, the person who does the work and the person who is served by that work are both more important than the work itself. It’s good to ask ourselves whom our work serves. Does our work benefit our family and our God as much as it benefits our clients, our companies, and ourselves? If not, we might want to reconsider the place that work has in our lives.