Stewardship of Self for Christian Workers: Time Management in an Event-Oriented Culture

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Brochures in this series contain self-help information for missionaries. Each brochure emphasizes practical things missionaries may do for specific problems in the absence of professional help.

Ideally, one ought to consult a medical professional before making any lifestyle change to ensure that the change will not be detrimental to existing conditions or treatments. However, some Christian workers have limited access to mental health professionals.

To read more from the Stewardship of Self series


Resource Description


The phrase “time management” would not even naturally occur in the language of an event-oriented culture.  It is a phrase that would only occur to someone coming into such a culture from a time-oriented one.  In time-oriented cultures we think of time as a commodity.  Our language reflects this when we talk about “spending” or “saving” time and when we talk about “investing” or “wasting” time.  The phrase “time is money” would make little sense in an event-oriented culture.

However, since many missionaries are from time-oriented cultures and receive support from people with that orientation, it remains relevant to their lives when interacting with family and supporters back in their passport countries.

Jesus lived in a culture in which people did not wear watches on their wrists and did not hang clocks on every wall. Sometimes he responded immediately and went to people, and at other times he delayed his response or withdrew to be alone.

For example, on one occasion when two of John’s disciples began following Jesus, he did not send them away but spent the day with them (John 1:39).  Likewise, when Nicodemus came to him at night, Jesus did not say that it was time to go to bed but spent time carefully answering his question (John 3:1-21).

However, on another occasion when his brothers urged him to publicly show himself to the world, Jesus said the time was not right.  He said, “You go to the Feast.  I’m not yet going up to this Feast, for the right time has not yet come.”  Then when his brothers left for the feast, Jesus also went in secret. (John 7:1-10).

Between these events, Jesus urged his disciples into action because the harvest time had arrived (John 4:35).  Likewise we find in Matthew 4:17 that the time had come for Jesus to preach and in Matthew 16:21 that the time had come for Jesus to explain to his disciples what was going to happen.  In these cases time referred to an order of events or an opportunity rather than to a schedule, so Jesus dealt with time in a variety of ways.  How do we manage our time in an event-oriented culture?  Let us consider some ways.

Be God-oriented first.

When asked what was the most important commandment and how to obtain eternal life, Jesus replied with what we call the Great Commandment—putting God first in every area of life (Matthew 22, Mark 12, Luke 10). Your time with God is the most important thing in either a time-oriented or and event-oriented culture.  Settle this before attempting to answer questions about time vs. event or task vs. people.

The most important question is, “What does God want me to do in this situation?”

  • Ask him.
  • Pray for wisdom, guidance and help in knowing what to do with your time.
  • Look for Scripture passages related to event-oriented cultural responses.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to illumine passages.
  • Ask people to pray for you to have God’s wisdom in how to spend your time.


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