When I was growing up in France as a missionary kid, we would sometimes host family or friends visiting from the states.
Usually, they would ask if they could bring something for us and without fail, my dad would say, “Oreos!” We savored each bite of these uniquely American cookies.
Back in the ’90s, American junk food was hard to find in Europe. We may have had the world’s best chocolate, but French grocery stores were severely lacking in Ding Dongs, Reeses, Butterfingers, and Oreos.
We crave what we can’t have; we cherish what is scarce.
Never is this more true than when a mom of young children gets some time to herself. Before kids, a free hour wasn’t a noteworthy occasion. After kids, we understand what a precious gift it is—an oasis in the middle of the desert (an oreo in the middle of France).
The gift of free time can bring with it a new set of problems, however.
What do we do with it? With endless possibilities and the “shoulds” and “wants” jostling for our attention, busy moms can become paralyzed with indecision.
Whichever choice we make means saying no to all the other options—a loss that can cast a shadow over the path we take.
As busy moms, how can we be faithful with the time God has given us, both with our kids and without?As busy moms, how can we be faithful with the time God has given us, both with our kids and without?
4 Time-Management Lessons from the Life of Christ
How should we navigate between the lure of productivity and the promise of rest? The Bible doesn’t give us any formulas, but the life that Jesus led does offer some clues.
In this article, I will share four lessons busy moms can glean from the way Jesus chose to spend his time.
Tip #1 for busy moms: embrace your current season.
Jesus’ public ministry—his work of preaching, teaching, healing, and ushering in the kingdom of God—didn’t start until he was around 30.
It lasted for about three years.
This begs the question, “What was he doing in his teens and twenties?”
The Bible only shares one story about his teenage years when he stays behind in the temple to learn from the rabbis—much to Mary and Joseph’s chagrin (Lk 2:41-50).
As a young man in his twenties, I imagine he was fulfilling his family duties: learning from Joseph, helping to provide for his family.
Yet we don’t see him panicking during his public ministry, trying to cram in as much teaching and healing as he could. There’s no sense of Christ rushing around or trying to make up for lost time.
Jesus Christ had a clear focus and purpose for his earthly life, and it required different things in different seasons.
But we moms are tempted to have it all, be it all, and do it all at once. We want to be the best career woman, the best mom, the best wife, the most generous Christian, a loyal friend, and on and on.
Often when we are entrenched in a particularly demanding season—bringing home a baby or starting a professional career—we feel like we are a failure in all of our other roles.
Busy moms often believe the lie that we must have it all and do it all at once! But that is definitely not the example Christ set for us.
What would happen if we simply embraced the season we were in? What would happen if we leaned into our primary role right now and trusted that God would provide the right time and season for the other callings in our hearts?Busy moms often believe the lie that we must have it all and do it all at once! But that is definitely not the example Christ set for us.
Tip #2 for busy moms: make time to rest and pray.
The gospels often refer to Jesus getting away from it all and going to a quiet place to pray (Lk 5:16).
He made it a priority to connect with his Father even though it was inconvenient to do so.
Jesus had to be intentional in spending time with God, and so do we. We may not need to head to the nearest mountain, but we may need to take a prayer walk.
Moms need to seek out creative ways to talk to and learn from God, especially during a busy or demanding season of life.
Similarly, Jesus took care of his physical body.
He took naps, even during storms (Mt 8:24). He enjoyed good food, and he cared enough about celebrations to do his first miracle at a wedding by providing an abundance of tasty wine (Jn 2:1-11).
For Jesus, rest and prayer were not a duty or obligation to fill; they were simply a necessary ingredient in his life and ministry.
Rather than viewing self-care as “taking time away from the ‘important’ stuff,” busy moms need to recognize that rest and prayer are part of God’s plan for our lives.For Jesus, rest and prayer were not a duty or obligation to fill; they were simply a necessary ingredient in his life and ministry.
Tip #3 for busy moms: welcome interruptions.
It seems that many miracles happened in the gospels as a result of an interruption. The pattern is:
Jesus is on his way somewhere.
Someone interrupts him with an urgent need.
Jesus gives the person his undivided attention.
The person receives a miracle.
Not once does Jesus ever lose his temper when he’s interrupted. Not once does he claim he’s busy and has to be somewhere. Not once does he brush the person aside.
Not when the bleeding woman touched his cloak as he was on his way (Mt 9:20).
Not when the crowds followed him as he tried to withdraw to a quiet place (Mt 14:13-14).
Not when the leper blocked his path, asking for cleansing (Mt 8:2).
Jesus sets a remarkable example for how we should treat the people who interrupt us.
They aren’t getting in the way of our agenda; they are our agenda.
I want to be as ready as Jesus was to set aside my own plans and give the person in front of me my undivided attention. Don’t you?
Tip #4 for busy moms: serve one another in love.
When Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus into their home, Martha busied herself with serving while Mary sat at His feet, listening to His teaching.
Each sister made a choice about how to spend her time.
When Martha asks Jesus to tell her sister to help serve, we read: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her (Lk 10:41-42 NIV).”
Here we see that Jesus gives us His permission to rest in His presence. And He does not fault Martha for choosing to serve. Instead, He points out her “worried and upset” heart.
Busying ourselves to serve others out of love is a God-honoring way to spend our time.
When Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law from her fever, her immediate response was to serve in a natural outpouring of her gratitude (Mk 1:31).
Engaging in the same activities to earn love and approval and becoming resentful of others’ choices are signs of a worried and upset heart.
Whether you choose to work or rest, your time is not wasted when your actions are motivated by love.Whether you choose to work or rest, your time is not wasted when your actions are motivated by love.
In our role as mothers, we are called to steward our time faithfully.
Although there is no formula for what this looks like on a daily basis, we can choose to follow Christ’s example by embracing the season we are in, making time for rest and prayer, welcoming interruptions, and making sure our actions are motivated by love.
-Sarah K. Butterfield
Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. Her book “Around the Clock Mom: Make the Most of Your God-Given Time” is now available on Amazon. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she loves getting lost in a book and overindulging in ice cream. Connect with Sarah on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook or check out the free resources available for download on her website.