A friend recently asked me how I’m able to get so much accomplished every day. I thought this an odd question, because I always feel that I’m not accomplishing enough. She said I was a workaholic, but I guess, it’s all relative, so to speak—a ‘little’ to some people can be a ‘lot’ to others. Anyway, that later got me thinking and I began mentally comparing my work habits to hers. A few things I do are merely methods I use on myself, gleaned from my threescore years of work experience.
Many decades ago, while employed in a retail management position, I always gave my employees a daily work list that I was rather sure could not be accomplished in one day. I didn’t really expect it to be completed, but knew that it would keep the employees busy for the entire day. I also did this to myself by making a list, each evening, of the things I wanted to do the next day, that way I had a schedule of goals ready for the next morning. The left over tasks from today got put at the top of the new list for tomorrow. I always liked to have a “heads up” approach to what still needed to be done. That way, it was much easier to fit in unexpected tasks as they arose. That was a useful idea I remembered from my Boy Scout days—to always be prepared.
I have continued this method of planning, along with periodic adjustments and fine tuning, throughout my life. As I compared my approach in accomplishing tasks to that of my friend’s, the more I realized that she had no plan at all. She, sort of, stumbled through the day doing what she “felt” like doing rather than doing what was needed. She neither made a list, nor set any priorities.
Many Methods I Use Come from the Bible
I thought about my past occupations and the experience I’ve gained and how I accomplished my tasks, and came to a realization that rather surprised me. I recognized that much of my approach to organization came directly from the Bible. Of course I read God’s word and try to put into practice the wisdom contained in those pages, but I didn’t realize the extent of how I used that biblical knowledge to fine-tune that which I learned from life’s experiences.
Proficiency is expected by God. He ascertains its necessity “right out of the box” in the creation story (Genesis 1:1-31). He “intended there to be a rhythm and time of rest to our routines . . . If scheduling was shown in the very beginning, we should pay attention and learn to incorporate rhythm and scheduling in our lives.”1
To lead an organized existence, one must first become wise. If not, your life will be one of unorganized folly. Take the time to read Proverbs 9:1–18, which is “a cleverly contrived composition of three equal sections, in which the first and last half-dozen verses describe the contrasting themes of wisdom and folly. The intervening passages contains a mixture of material relating to both positions.” This scripture shows that “a person who follows wisdom’s precepts will benefit both from admonition and further instruction. The mocker has already decided the issues and has shut his mind to anything that might upset or refute his conclusions. The wise person, however, possesses a mind that is open to improvement and thus welcomes the opportunity to learn more about wisdom.”2
A couple of quotes from Proverbs chapter 9 are: “Leave your simple ways behind and begin to live; learn to use good judgment,” (Proverbs 9:6, NLT)3 and “Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer,” (Proverbs 9:11-12).
Remember that there is a certain time that things must be done, too. Don’t dally, don’t procrastinate—get it done when it needs to be done. Some things are important and others are rather monotonous, but we must regulate our lives to accomplish all things. “Our existence in this world is a mixture of joy and sorrow, harmony and conflict, and life and death. Each has its own proper moment, and we, as creatures of time, must conform to the temporal limitations that are built into the cycle of life.”4
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–8).
It is important to jump in and get started, but don’t jump in without full consideration and a plan. Jesus, when recruiting disciples, spoke about the logic of planning and giving careful thought concerning possible problems, when he said:
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away.” (Luke 14:25–32).
Be Organized at Home and Work
One of the best examples of the importance of a well-planned life is the Bible’s guidance for the organized wife. Often, when my wife is asked about what she does, I sometimes jump in and jokingly tell them she is the perfect organized wife and they can read all about her in the Bible. Of course, my wife rolls her eyes in a gesture indicating, “Oh, no! Here he goes again.” But, in all seriousness, please read Proverbs 31:10–31.
Although too long to include all the verses within this article, it will only take you a few minutes to read from your Bible and it is quite enlightening. For all our modern ladies around the world, remember that this scripture is directed to those wives in the culture at that time, but its meaning contains excellent organizational advice for all times. It was written by King Solomon, about three thousand years ago.
Describing the organized wife of noble character, she is shown as capably managing a household, running a business, and being a treasure to her family. The first few lines of scripture start off, “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life,” (Proverbs 31:10-12).
There are a several other parts of Proverbs that also add advice which can help in keeping you organized. “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success,” (Proverbs 15:22). This concerns making decisions without counsel or deliberation. Organized plans should include a deference to the opinions of the wise and good, contrasted with rashness.5 And only those having the diligence to work hard, organize their lives, and use good judgment will enable them to become prosperous and satisfied. “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper,” (Proverbs 13:4).
Most parents try to teach their children important bits of information to help their sons and daughters, as they grow up and move away and start their individual journeys through life. This good information, including tips on organization, is helpful. Remember, there is much to the idea that we pass on to our children, only what we already have—that includes traits for organization in our lives, too. It is the same with God and his holy word, the Bible. If we listen to our Father in heaven and practice what he teaches, we will do well, if not—then, not so much.
I was fortunate that over the years, as I studied the Bible, I subconsciously started to incorporate many of the important facts it said about organization into my daily life. Considering what my friend stated in the beginning of this article, I guess it has really helped me.
Copyright © 2019, Dr. Ray Hermann
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References & Notes
- “Biblical Reasons to Be Organized,” (The Organized Wife, 9 May 2012), https://theorganizedwife.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/biblical-reasons-to-be-organized/
- Harrison, R. K., “Proverbs,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, Baker Reference Library, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), vol. 3, pp. 416-417.
- Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), ©2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
- Dockery, David S., (Ed.), Holman Bible Handbook, (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1992), p. 362.
- Jamieson, Robert A., et.al., Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), vol. 1, p. 396.