It's time for a dose of "decently and in order."
Organized for Life
by Joshua Burba
Imagine going to McDonald’s for a burger and fries only to discover that no lines exist. While waiting your turn, you’re shoved aside, and others jump ahead of you. If you don’t shove back, you may not eat. Imagine encountering the same confusion at official government buildings.
Seem ridiculous? It did to me, too, until I experienced it. Though I came to love much of Romanian culture during my 15-month missions assignment there, the lack of organization in the country shocked and frustrated me.
Have you ever wondered if there is anything biblical about organization? Should a Christian be organized? The answers may surprise you, so let’s examine how organization benefits us.
Benefits of Organization
Find balance. Organization balances the Christian. Time becomes manageable, and you balance work and family, spouse and children, parents and friends.
Avoid extremes. Without organization, the Christian wanders toward extremes, often leading to sin, burnout, apathy, and over-indulgence. For example, you read the Bible daily but neglect your physical health. Or you exercise but never socialize. Organization helps avoid these extremes. (Be wary, however. Organization itself can be taken to the extreme. Utilize it, but don’t let it control you.)
Discover empowerment. Organization empowers us to accomplish more for God in our brief lives. It forces us to be better stewards of the time God grants.
Organization in the Secular World
Contemplate the role of organization in business. How well would Walmart function without organization? Imagine milk and socks together or computers with diapers. Instead of checkout lines, everyone pays where he pleases.
Or take war. Remember the 1991 invasion of Kuwait during Desert Storm? Imagine if General Schwarzkopf refused to make hard decisions, or the foot soldiers disobeyed orders. Perhaps you recall the utter chaos among the Iraqi forces when the Allies eliminated their communications capabilities.
Even normal routines would be chaotic without organization. Imagine driving to work or school tomorrow without speed limits, painted lanes, and stoplights. Nobody wants a post office where employees only show up when they feel like it. Organization is vital to normal daily activities, and a look at Scripture reveals the place of organization in the biblical world as well.
Organization in the Biblical World
Consider David’s vast preparations so Solomon could build the Temple, including all aspects of temple worship, such as musicians, singers, military leaders, and more. Check out 1 Chronicles 22-28 for a great example of organization in action.
Or think about Paul’s missionary journeys. Two aspects of Paul’s organization stand out. He clearly had a plan about where to go, often using main Roman roads and stopping in major cities along the way. On his way home, he often revisited those same locations. Also, Paul regularly went first to the synagogues and preached the Good News, reaching out to Gentiles only when the Jews rejected his message (Acts 13-14).
Creation itself testifies to God’s incredible sense of order and organization (Psalm 19:1-6). From enormous galaxies and planets the size of Jupiter to the to the tiniest cell, organization abounds in creation. Think about your own body.
When you cut yourself, a wonderfully organized body shop gets to work making repairs. When you burn yourself, neurons fire signals from your body to your brain and back again, all in a split second—much quicker than the internet! And ponder how, from conception to birth, a single cell multiplies into billions and billions of cells to form a human being with eyes, ears, nose, organs, a brain, heart, and thousands of other amazing parts. No doubt about it, we are fearfully and wonderfully made!
Unfortunately, simple acknowledgment of organization in the biblical world is insufficient. It must make a difference in our lives.
Applying the concept of organization to all areas of life will take—you guessed it—organization to accomplish. How can you do this?
Start small. If you struggle with organization, begin slowly. Try organizing one portion of one day and see what happens. Make a plan tonight, either with a pen and agenda, or a Blackberry,TM if you prefer, and plan tomorrow from the time you wake up until lunch.
Decide when to set the alarm and wake up. Set priorities. Do you read the Bible and pray first, or make coffee, take a shower, or eat? Make good use of your time until lunch then evaluate the results. Did you accomplish more than usual? Less? Any difference? Remember to maintain the right attitude as James 4:13-17 instructs.
Group into categories. Consider organizing your life by categories. For example, under the heading “spiritual,” you may organize your Bible reading and prayer time. I usually plan our family’s Bible reading and prayer plan two weeks ahead, leaving room for changes. Regarding other Christian materials, consider reading books from several categories at the same time, such as discipleship, poetry, fiction, area of interest, and evangelism. Or, you may read only one book a few pages at a time. I am currently reading through the works of Josephus, averaging two pages a day, five days a week. I’m on track to finish all his writings in 20 months.
This principle applies to other areas as well, such as organizing your work area. If you face a mountain of papers, try taming a few folders a day, organizing and filing them, and after so many days everything will be cleared out. The point is to tackle a small part of your goal each day, and eventually you will succeed. By the way, that is how I approached this article. I aimed for 30 minutes a day and eventually finished it. As one pastor said, “Take time for your head . . . take time for your health . . . take time for your home . . . [and] take time for God.” 
Learn from organized people. Probe the lives of organized people and discover their secrets. Ask them how they structure a typical day, week, or month. Think of someone specific right now, reach out to him or her, and pick that brain.
Set goals. Contemplate setting yearly family goals that everyone can work toward together. Remember the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” To avoid hitting nothing, my wife and I look over the past year’s goals in late December, see how we did, and set new goals for the upcoming year.
We focus on five categories: physical, spiritual, emotional, social, and financial. We write our goals on index cards. I tape mine to the front of my agenda and review them at the beginning of each month, not only to measure progress, but also to refresh them in my mind and see where my efforts are lacking.
The Next Step
People make time for what is important to them. If you determine that living an organized, balanced Christian life is important, you will find time to organize each area of life in a way that pleases and glorifies the Lord.
We can choose to be organized, or we can choose not to be. While we do not need to become efficiency experts, we do want to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5) and serve our Lord to the best of our ability. We want to do things decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40) in every area of life.
So how about it? Do you want to be better organized? You can, and I encourage you to start today. It’s never too late to begin.
About the Writer: Joshua Burba is a May 2010 Christian Education graduate of Free Will Baptist Bible College.
Marvin A. McMickle, “Take Time to be Holy,” Preaching: The Professional Journal for Preachers Volume 19, Number 6 (May/June, 2004): 68-70.