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Oct. 5, 2009


The Stewadship of Time

By Rev. Erica Kennedy

During a recent workshop, one of the leaders asked about stewardship resources for time or time management. The goal of this particular congregation’s stewardship ministry is to provide opportunities for learning and practice in the three areas of time, giftedness, and finances.

As I pondered the question, I realized that the famous stewardship phrase speaks of “time, talent, and treasure” but how often do we focus on teaching and practicing the stewardship of time especially when time is sometimes seen as more precious than money?

Rather than suggesting some secular time management tool that teaches us how many hours we have in a day and how to priorities based on our values by creating blocks of time for work and blocks of time for leisure, I encouraged this leader to consider as a place to begin a book and bible study focused on Sabbath using Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller.

In one of the opening chapters entitled “Rest for the Weary,”  Muller addresses the importance of rest. He says, “And so, we are given the commandment: Remember the Sabbath. Rest is the enzyme of life, as necessary as air. Without rest, we cannot sustain the energy needed to have life. We refuse to rest at our peril – and yet in a world where overwork is seen as a professional virtue, many of us feel we can legitimately be stopped only by physical illness or collapse.”

Are we afraid to rest? What might happen?

Many of us yearn for a slower pace, to find ways to slow down, and yet we keep adding more and more to the calendar. In a recent telephone conversation, Pastor Charles and I intended to do some planning for an upcoming event. Before we got started on the planning details, we found ourselves talking about the importance of quiet in our day. Quiet is a kind of rest. Like many others, I too struggle with carving out this kind of quiet Sabbath time.

Pastor Charles and I agreed that most of our creative time happens in the midst of quiet, in the early hours of the morning, when the phone is less likely to ring, when that little voice from the computer that cries out to check the e-mail has not yet awakened for the day, and when there is little stirring in the house. I know I can best hear the voice of God and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit when I follow the advice of the psalmist, “Be still and know that I am God”.

Wayne Muller shares a Sabbath practice at the end of each chapter. “Lighting Sabbath Candles” encourages a short Sabbath. Find a candle that holds some beauty or meaning for you. When you have set aside some time – before a meal, during a prayer, meditation, or simply quite reading – set the candle before you, say a simple prayer or blessing for yourself or someone you love, and light the candle. Take a few mindful breaths. For just this moment, let the hurry of the world fall way. (p. 22)

Consider the stewardship of time. What does the rhythm of your rest and work say about your stewardship practices? How does this rhythm honor God?

Rev. Erica Kennedy is a former Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission staff member with the ELCA. This essay is reprinted from "Stewardship Now," a free online newsletter available through ELCA Stewardship Resources.

      Copyright 2009 Stewardship of Life Institute