FIRST GLIMPSE: Learn to say NO
From the Editor: Throughout my life, few people have taught me more about wise time management than my dad. His latest advice, an excerpt from his upcoming book on Scripture memory, simply had to be shared. I hope you enjoy a guest editorial from the man who taught me to read.
The most used excuse in the world is “I don’t have time.”
My reply is simple. We all have the same amount of time—24 hours each day, no more, no less. The difference comes in how we use time. When you ask yourself how to squeeze the most out of each day, remember the key is saying no. Such a small word, but so important.
Say no to procrastination. Start. Do it. Don’t put it off. Say no to self-indulgence. Little will happen until you begin.
Say no to temptation. Read Matthew 4:1-11 and recall that Jesus defeated temptation with Scripture. Set aside time daily to saturate yourself in the Word of God, then allow it to guide every action. Embrace the declaration of Psalm 119:11: “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”
Say no to glitter. Every trap has bait…and it often glitters. Culture, fashion, and the media feed pride, vanity, and self-centered living. Sure, glitz and glamour can be desirable, and without vigilance, we will find ourselves wasting time, energy, and money pursuing the dazzling glitter of a godless culture. Instead…
Say no to the crowd. Noah said no and survived the flood. Daniel refused to conform, and the lions failed to find him appetizing. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t bow, and the fire didn’t burn them. See through the silliness of chasing the latest fashions, trends, styles, and name brands. Instead, use that time for something really worthwhile—the Word of God. Remember the admonitions of Isaiah 40:7-8 and Psalm 119:89: “The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth, but the Word of God abideth forever. Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in Heaven.”
Say no to the pursuit of the trivial. From collecting antique marbles to playing chess, I often find myself involved in things that are not sinful, just trivial. Avoid things that have little to do with your ultimate purpose in life. Be selective. Be clear about your purpose, roles, values, and responsibilities to God and man. Be about what is essential…and eternal.
Say no to pleasing people. It is impossible. Jesus didn’t do it, and you can’t either. Instead, concentrate on pleasing God.
Say no to (out-of-control) technology. Technology can be a real time saver. From calendars and alerts to keeping up with family and friends on social media, it can be a productive and useful tool. But without restraint, this valuable tool will steal your time rather than saving it. Schedule times to unplug. Stop being a slave to social media, and put technology back into its place.
Say no to negative people. God wants us to seek out wise influences…just read Proverbs 13:20. Obviously, life has some negatives, but why dwell on them or hang out with people who do? Our thoughts shape our actions, habits, and character. We must “keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Avoid negative people and embrace the positive influence of Scripture instead.
Say no to fuzzy focus. Just as a magnifying glass will focus the sun’s rays enough to start a fire, we must focus the direction of our lives. Priorities, purpose, goals, aims, objectives—define your direction. Know what you will do. Know what you will not do. Focus intensely and avoid distractions.
Say no to busy. One of my college professors concluded the final class time of every course with the statement, “Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.” Good advice! Do less to achieve more.
Say no to easy. It is delusional to think you can accomplish anything of value without effort. Napoleon Hill once said, “Following the line of least resistance makes all rivers and most men crooked.” Accept the (sometimes difficult) challenge of the faithful Christian life and live it to its fullest.
Say no to mindless activity. Television, video games, YouTube—an hour a day adds up to 40 eight-hour working days each year. Time better spent engaged in things of eternal significance! Consider a person who uses the same amount of time to memorize five Bible verses a month. In 40 years, he or she will have a quarter of the New Testament memorized! How would you like to have such a person teach your Sunday School class or fill your pulpit?
Twenty-four hours a day. We all have them. The question is: what will you do with them?
About the Writer: Over the course of his career, Neal Thomsen pastored four churches in Florida and Georgia, was a professor at Luther Rice Seminary, and taught fifth grade at a number of Christian schools.
Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.