Time is Money? (part one)
Matt Note: Doug White has been my college professor, confidante, mentor, and friend throughout the last twelve years. As a youth pastor it was not uncommon for him to be a guide our leadership retreats and as I have served at various churches we often found ourselves having conversations lasting hours on leadership, strategy, and pursuing Christ in our day to day. I am excited that he will be joining in the conversation here on a regular basis and am looking forward to seeing where the conversation takes us.
I read something the other day that sounded horribly familiar. In a blog by a prominent author regarding church leadership, I was encouraged to think of time as money. In this post, the author suggested that if we understood our time in this way, then we would be more purposeful in “spending” this time. After all if each minute were likened to a five dollar bill, then I would pause to think how I am spending my capital. Time (money) management is important, right? Well, yes if we see our contribution through the lens of a business transaction.
Is this perspective ok for someone in church leadership? This press to commodify time surrounds most of us in our daily decision making. As much as we want to talk about leadership as transformational when it comes to “spending” our time it is viewed as transactional. As a leader this is unsettling to me. I want to understand time through God’s eyes, where “a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day” (2 Peter 3:8). I want to change this notion but I am painfully aware that a business mindset is so entrenched in the North American psyche, which it is hard to avoid. Consider this thought from Paul Hiebert (you will hear his name invoked fairly often) in the book, The Church Between Gospel and Culture, “The erosion of the church from being a covenant community, along with its transformation into a crowd, club, or corporation, has made Christianity largely a spectator sport or a business activity.”(148-9) Hiebert goes on to cite the former chaplain to the US Senate, Richard Halverson who states, “When the Greeks got the gospel, they turned it into a philosophy; when the Romans got it, they turned it into a government; when the Europeans got it, they turned it into a culture; and when the Americans got it, they turned it into a business.”
I am searching for something new here. I would like you to join me in this quest to develop a theology of time. As I think about this more, I realize how entrenched I am and may be a product of a system (organizational culture) that is reinforced by the latest time management tools, efficiency and effectiveness training, and empirically driven models of church evaluations. I would love to hear from you on this because it speaks to the very core of my preconceived categories. How about yours?
(to be continued…)