You Cannot Manage Time. Steward it Instead.

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT)

In January, many of us resolved (again) that this year would be the year for better time management. Time seems to quickly slip through our fingers, and things aren’t getting accomplished on the to-do list. Sound like you?

Back in the late 90s, during my corporate career, time management was the chatter of many motivational speakers. Popular books, such as “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven R. Covey were on everyone’s list to read. It was trendy to attend a Franklin Covey class. To manage time, I religiously used my Day-Timer to track all I needed to complete each day as a marketing manager.

The message then was that if I excelled at time management and was a master prioritizer, success was inevitable.

For me, it felt like a never-ending to-do list. That didn’t feel successful at all.

That’s basically what time management is — a fancy term for a do list. Because no matter how we “manage time,” we only have 24 hours each day to do what we can do.

Photo Courtesy of Paula Guerriero from Unsplash

As I have been researching for my word of the year, “time,” I found it interesting that many business coaches now say there is no such thing as time management.

That makes no sense, yet it makes every bit of sense.

Maurice Gilbert, Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Research, said: “Time – after all – flows in one direction. Forward. You can no more manage the flow of time than you can control the tides. Therefore, time management strategies are (pardon the pun) a total waste of time.”

He has a point. Time will always move forward; we cannot wrangle it to fit our needs and schedule. Many leadership gurus now say we should consider it self-management instead of time management. Rory Vaden, co-founder of Brand Builders Group, says this about self-management: “We all have 24 hours in a day. What really matters is what we do with it — in other words, how we manage ourselves.”

And that is probably a more challenging thing to manage – ourselves. There is still pressure to be productive, overcome personal barriers (like procrastination or being unwilling to delegate), and establish attainable goals.

Instead of Managing Time — Steward Time. 

The Bible talks about self-management. It is called stewardship.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that stewardship is “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” or “the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving. “(

Stewardship of time is different than managing time. When we “steward,” we are being careful and responsible over something entrusted to us, in this case, time. We have 24 hours a day and are to use that time well. When we do, we honor God, who gifts us with time. “Time is a talent given to us by God, and it is misspent and lost when not employed according to His design.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

The Apostle Paul was aware of the importance of stewarding time. He said in a letter to the church in Ephesus: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17) Paul was given, by Jesus, the mission of sharing the gospel and making disciples, even as the environment was becoming increasingly hostile toward Christians. Because he did not know how much time he would have on earth to fulfill his purpose, he had to steward his time well.

What does the Bible teach us about being good stewards of time?

Take These 3 Steps to be a Good Steward of Time

  1. Trust in the Lord and be confident in His plan for your time on earth.

  • Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
  • Colossians 1:10 – … so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.
  1. Honor the time God has given; keep your pursuits productive and profitable.

  • Proverbs 20:4 – Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
  • Proverbs 21:5 – The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
  • Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
  • Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
  1. Make the most of today’s opportunities. Don’t dwell on the past or dream only about the future.

  • Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
  • Matthew 6:33-34 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
  • James 4:14-15 – Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

All Bible references are the New International version, linked to

5 responses to “You Cannot Manage Time. Steward it Instead.”

  1. I got a lot from this post. I also decide on a word of the year and this year it’s “light”. In choosing a word I rely on what is happening in my life, things that hear or see and pray. I truly believe we are given time to be the best people we can be.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: