Jonathan Edwards on What to Do If Your Time Management Stinks

Does your time management stink?  It’s easy for pastors to sit in their office and waste time on unproductive activities. Is that you?

(Me nodding.)


Edwards says your time is too precious to waste

In his sermon, “The Preciousness of Time,” Jonathan Edwards tells us why and how to improve our use of time:

“Consider how much time you have lost already. For your having lost so much, you have the greater need of diligently improving what yet remains. You ought to mourn and lament over  your lost time; but that is not all, you must apply yourselves the more diligently to improve the remaining part, that you may redeem lost time.”

We would never say to ourselves, “The kitchen stinks so bad from the garbage that it’s probably not worth taking it out.” But we may be tempted to think that way about our time. Edwards warns us not to:

“Sometimes such considerations as these…discourage persons and makes them think, that seeing they have lost so much time, it is not worth their while to attempt to do any thing now. The devil makes fools of them…what madness is it for persons to give way to discouragement, so as to neglect their work, because their time is short! What need have they rather to awake out of sleep, thoroughly to rouse up themselves, and to be in good earnest, that if possible they may yet obtain eternal life!”

How to stop wasting time

Edwards offers three points of application:

1. “Improve the present time without any delay. If you delay and put off its improvement, still more time will be lost.”

2. “Be especially careful to improve those parts of time which are most precious…improve your sabbaths, and especially the time of public worship, which is the most precious part.”

3. “Improve well your time of leisure from worldly business…Waste them not away wholly in unprofitable visits, or useless diversions or amusements.”

There is one other exercise that will help you use time more profitably. First, write down the 3-5 most important things you should be working on. Then, write down your top 3-5 time wasters.

These are your “to d0” and “not to do” lists respectively.

Now, off to the things you need to do. (And not the things you don’t.)


  1. Ross Shannon says:

    Helpful and timely. Thanks for your thoughts and for pointing to Edward’s . . .