Yesterday I proposed a basic theology of time. Today I will give you a devilology of time, time from the devil’s perspective. I’m really asking, “What would the devil teach a class on time-management?” He would have three main points:

Squander it
This hardly needs amplification. It is simply letting time slip through our hands without using it productively. And it’s especially easy for a pastor to fall into this as he has no time-clock or boss to check how he’s using his time. Time can be wasted in various ways:

Laziness: We simply go about our business too slowly, too halfheartedly.

Disorganization: We may be running around, but we are running around as headless chickens because our studies, our finances, our administration, our libraries, etc., are a mess.

Inefficiency: We may not be using the available technological tools to simplify tasks. We phone when we should email. We use Strong’s Concordance rather then Bible software. We write out things by hand again, and again, and again, rather than use a word-processor. We try to study in the afternoon when we are sleepy rather than first thing in the morning. We read where there are lots of distractions rather than where we can really concentrate, etc.

Indiscipline: We too easily choose to surf the Internet rather than study a text. We spend too long on the phone to friends when there are people to visit in hospital. We fail to plan the week or our day and end up aimless or simply reacting to the demands of others.

Procrastination: Someone once said that the Devil only has one day on His calendar: “Tomorrow.”

Stretch it
This involves lengthening our days, our working hours, so that we can do more and more work. Psalm 127:2 addresses this and calls it “vain” or pointless, partly because when we stretch our hours, we often simply stretch our work to fill the hours, rather than pack more in.

Again, with no fixed hours, this is so easy for pastors to do. We can start stretching our hours, and yet we are not getting more done, just taking longer to do it. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can prepare a sermon when we have a deadline!

Set yourself office and working hours, let your wife and family know them, and try to stick with that.

Squeeze it
This happens when we have so much to do that we do nothing well. We try to squeeze so much into the day that we squeeze the quality out of our work, and also the joy and satisfaction out of our work. We aim too high, spend our day stressed, and end up looking back dissatisfied at all we were not able to do. We can sin by doing too little, but we can also sin by attempting to do too much.

It always strikes me, when reading the Gospels, that there did not seem to be any sense of rush about the Lord’s life. He seemed to be largely unhurried, calm, and peaceful. Yet he never sinned sins of omission.

Disenrolling now
When born, we are automatically enrolled in this dark class under this dismal teacher. And even if the Son has disenrolled us and set us free, we find it hard to unlearn the lessons completely. How much we need the Holy Spirit to empty our minds and hearts of devilology; and instead fill them theology; and maybe especially with Christology.

  • AE Thanh

    I really like the devil analogy. My suspicion is that squandering will be it’s main point. Sometimes our perfect selves, the white angel, wants to preserve to many things and at times we need that little devil on our shoulder say “You don’t need that. Get rid of it!”