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Apr 03

Finding Time for Ministry

Posted by: Steve Marr

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A number of people contact me about doing ministry. I have addressed the need to divide work from a ministry calling previously.  Work is what we do to earn money. From scripture we know that Paul “was a tentmaker . . . he stayed and worked with them. “(Acts 18:3, NIV) Paul’s calling was as an evangelist. He made tents when necessary to earn money so that he could fulfill his ministry.

I was discussing this topic with someone who told me how they have so little time to fit ministry into their hectic schedule. I pointed out the progress we have made in the last 200 years to create an incredible amount of leisure time.  In 1800 most of the world’s population survived on tiny low-productivity farms.  A family worked 16 plus hours a day simply to scrimp by with enough food for the year. Every day was hard work. The family struggled with no guarantee there would be food the next day. Failure at any level doomed a family to starvation.


Consider the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840’s. One million Irish citizens starved to death while another one million left the country. This represented 25% of the population. Even 50 years ago, Saturday work without increased wage was common in many businesses.

Today we have tremendous amounts of leisure time. Many watch three or four hours of TV a day, perhaps more. We go out to dinner, visit with friends, hunt, fish, and take kids to soccer games and read. Even 100-200 years ago most people, except for the very elite, never dreamed of having any extra time.

When I studied economics, a professor went into detail how human wants were unlimited. He explained that the more money and goods people accumulate, the more they want. I believe the same is true about time. If we are not careful we will fill our extra hours with leisure and other activities.  I don’t believe we need to work nonstop, nor are any of these activities I mentioned bad in their own right. However, if we allow 30 to 40 hours of television a week to take up our time; and tell our pastor we have no time to help out at church, the issue is not that we don’t have time. The issue is that we’ve already made a decision about how to use the blessing of time that we have.

I’ve taught personal finance for Crown Financial Ministries in a small group setting. One of the exercises we encourage students to work through is to answer the question: how much is enough?  We encourage students to figure out how much money they need to earn, and then decide how much time they can give to the Lord’s work.  When people do not work through this process, they are more inclined to buy more stuff or take vacations to consume excess money.  While buying things and taking trips is not bad, the issue is developing a good sense of balance.

I encourage Christians to apply the same exercise to their time. I suggest they prepare a time budget for the 168 hours the Lord provides for them in a week. They should figure the time required for work, commuting, household tasks, parenting, sleeping and other necessary commitments. Then they can calculate how much time they have available for ministry.  My perspective is that each of us should embrace some ministry opportunity in our local church. It is important to use our available time and skills there because when each of us picks up a part of the work load, it prevents some from over commitment in order to accomplish basic ministry responsibilities.

I want to be careful that I don’t come across as judgmental or scolding. My goal in this posting is to encourage each believer in Jesus Christ to allocate time for ministry.  As we look back at the crushing burdens families faced 200 years ago, we need to be grateful that we have more resources in money and time than they did. Let’s use part of this wealth and freedom to strengthen the Lord’s Kingdom on earth until he returns.

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