Hey! Just wanted to take a minute to piggy-back on something we talked about yesterday regarding the spiritual disciplines. I mentioned that my discipleship group and I kept track of the amount of time that we spent with the Lord each day. We would then read these times to one another whenever we met for the purpose of accountability. Our goal was not to promote legalism, but rather to encourage and exhort one another to be faithful in practicing the spiritual disciplines.
For me, I find that when I see my time on paper, it gives me something objective. It doesn’t tell me everything about my times with the Lord. But it can answer two important questions: To what degree am I actually pursuing God by practicing the spiritual disciplines? and What would growth in time spent with God actually look like? These are very valuable questions to ask.
I thought that you might like to take a look at the sheet that we used for this. As you can tell, each sheet covers two weeks. I want to encourage you to give this a try. Is there someone (or a group of people) that you can draw into your life to begin this practice? You may also want to consider using this sheet for accountability with your wake-up time as well. I can testify first hand to the difference that accountability in BOTH of these areas makes!
Download Accountability Sheet
Merry Christmas to me…I mean to my daughter. This past Christmas came with a present from my parents which has become my favorite baby girl item.
Aren’t they adorable?? I’m thinking about buying myself an adult pair so that we can match. Might be a fun way to leave the hospital together.
Went to the doctor today. All is well. I’m measuring right on track and baby is small (thank you, Lord!). Her heartbeat is strong and her head is down. I’ll keep you posted.
Hey everyone, I’m liking this “highly effective” thing. It’s how I like to think about myself: “highly effective.” But when I dare to look at the “seven habits” (check out Monday’s post) I change my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m highly effective at some things…eating, sleeping, sitting, and how about playing? Wait…I think I hear my mom coming…just a second…oh, sorry everyone, I’m supposed to be writing a serious post here. We are gonna have to save the rest of my highly effective activities for another time.
Okay, serious start…It’s time for “highly effective habit” #2—She maintains the practice of the spiritual disciplines. Two years ago, I had the huge privilege of leading a discipleship group full of godly women in which we took nine months to study biblical womanhood in a more in-depth way. We read many books and articles and listened to lots of messages. We had discussions and even took a personal retreat. We also kept track of our personal practice of the spiritual disciplines. We wrote down how long we spent with the Lord each day, and at each meeting we went around the group and read these times aloud.
At the end of the year, I had everyone fill out an evaluation form—to find out what had been most helpful and what could be improved upon. What was the answer to the “most helpful” question on almost every form? I wouldn’t have guessed, but it was our little practice of keeping track of our times with the Lord.
You see, the spiritual disciplines were reaping big fruit in the lives of these women, some of whom had never had a consistent practice of seeking the Lord. But after doing so for nine months, they were different. The gospel had become more amazing to them. Their desire to fight sin had grown. They had experienced God’s amazing promise: that He will draw near to us when we draw near to Him (James 4:8).
The practice of the spiritual disciplines is a little like planting a seed. (Please ignore the fact that anything I have ever planted has died, and try to stick with me here.) You plant a tiny seed in the dirt and you wait…water…wait… water. (I know that there is a little more to it than that, but you get the picture). It takes time. The plant only grows after consistent, faithful tending to the seed.
I met with the Lord this morning. I’m looking pretty much the same as I did yesterday (enjoying a huge glazed donut—the baby asked for it). Mike hasn’t told me that I look more holy than the day before. But as I read the Word and prayed this morning, I was watering. Lord willing, I will wake up tomorrow morning and do the same thing. Morning after morning of watering and waiting, and I will eventually see a little green thing sticking up out of the dirt. Growth! More watering, more waiting—more growth!
Is seeking the face of God a consistent practice in your life? If not, then may I encourage you to carefully consider how to begin. Start small. Set reasonable goals. None of this, “tomorrow morning is the day that I start waking up at 2 a.m. and spend 3 hours in prayer and Bible study.” But rather, what does faithfulness look like for you right now? What time do you need to wake up to make it happen? How long do you need to spend? Get specific. Get radical. Consider, like my discipleship group, asking someone to hold you accountable. Open up this area of your life to another and receive the grace of God that accompanies humility. You will soon reap a precious harvest—growth in godliness.
How exciting that so many of you want to join the 5 O’Clock Club! We thought that this email we received today would particularly encourage you wives:
“Thank you so much for GirlTalk and in particular this post! God has been tugging at my heart for a long time about what time I am getting up in the morning. I am married to an early-bird and I have always resented this trait in him. After reading Feminine Appeal, I was very convicted that I lacked self-control in this area and that I wasn’t just a ‘night person’ married to a morning person, but that I was being selfish and not serving my family well.
Getting up before my husband means getting up before 5:30—something that I have really resisted. After reading about the 5 O’Clock Club yesterday, I knew that I could avoid this no longer.
So, this morning, the alarm went off at 5:20, and I got up. I was awake and available to greet my husband and help get him off to work….God provided some extra incentive in my husband’s comments. As he was leaving today, he expressed his gratitude that I had gotten up early—he was thankful because he said it showed him where my heart is. If simply serving him this way speaks so loudly about my care for him, I am sorry to have not done it sooner. More importantly, it was a blessing to have that extended time with the Lord.
Thank you for ‘speaking the truth in love and helping me to serve my family more effectively. I am praying for God’s grace to become a regular member of the club!”
We have received an absolute deluge of questions about the 5 O’Clock Club. So we have postponed this week’s planned Q&A (quiet time materials for middle school kids) in order to provide answers to some of your questions. You know, it’s looking like we might actually need some club bylaws after all.
The most common question was, “What time do you go to bed at night?”
Well, the 5 O’Clock Club rules are very broad, allowing even slackers like me to be a member. Mom is our standard bearer. She gets up at 4:30 a.m. each and every morning, almost without fail. So she tries to go to bed between 9:30 and 10:00 each night. When that is not possible, she will extend her 20-minute power nap during the day, or try to go to bed early the following night (8:00 or 8:30). But by getting up at the same time each day, she has trained her body to that rhythm.
Janelle’s strategy is to wake up at 5:00 a.m. five days a week and then sleep in on Sunday and Monday (Mikey’s day off). Kristin and I bring up the rear with fits and starts. We’ll get up early for several days in a row, but when a meeting keeps us up until midnight, we don’t bother trying. We just call it a wash and try again in a day or two. I’d recommend Janelle’s approach for beginners. Mom’s strategy is for advanced members only. However, a half-hour nap during the day is recommended for all 5 O’Clock Club members.
Another frequently expressed opinion was: “I’m not sure about giving up my free time after the kids go to bed.”
Understandable. And it’s important to state here, again, that the 5 O’Clock Club is founded on principle and not practice. The question isn’t, “How early do you get up in the morning?” but rather, “Does your daily schedule reflect your priorities: specifically, seeking God at the outset of the day, romancing your husband, and serving your family?” The purpose of getting up early is to make the most important priorities most important. You may not have to get up at 5:00 a.m. to do that (I can see it now: 6:30 clubs popping up everywhere!). But I would encourage you to consider whether or not your schedule is truly serving your priorities.
Personally, I have noticed that my time early in the morning is often more profitably spent than my time late at night. If I get up early, I’m not tempted to stay up late, wasting time in the evening. I want to go to bed! And that extra hour in the morning is usually spent more productively than it would have been the night before. Now this isn’t true for everyone. My dad has a friend who does his best work between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.! The important point is that our schedule reflects biblical priorities.
Finally, a wife communicated a dilemma: Her husband’s schedule allows him to sleep in late, while she has to be at work early each morning. Staying up late with him means she misses out on significant time with the Lord.
This is a tricky one, as we always want to encourage wives to orient their lives to their husbands. And yet, this woman’s longing to spend more time seeking God is right and commendable. Now, this woman didn’t indicate whether or not her husband was a Christian. If he is not a believer (and therefore would not appreciate her desire to make QT a priority), she may need to schedule another time in the day to read her Bible, or consider getting up a little earlier (30 minutes, let’s say) and taking a nap over her lunch break. If her husband is a Christian, I would encourage her to have a conversation with him about how she can both serve and spend time with him, and still make her devotions a priority in the morning.
The 5 O’Clock Club is a Mahaney-family club. Mom is the founder, chairman of the board, and the secretary. Without her, there is no club. This club has very few members (only six); no chapters to speak of. It is extremely unpopular from about 5-6 each morning and very popular every hour after that.
Actually, the 5 O’Clock Club is all about The First Habit of the Highly Effective Woman: She Rises Early. In fact, Mom would say that this practice BY FAR has been the most helpful in seeking to fulfill the other six practices on the list. I wholeheartedly agree.
The 5 O’Clock Club began a few years ago while Mom was writing Feminine Appeal. The only way to meet her deadline was to get up at the insanely early hour of 4:00 a.m. Then, when we were writing Girl Talk, I reluctantly joined the 4:00 club. That was painful. When the books were finished, Mom realized that all that extra early-morning time could be put to good use for her family. And so the 5 O’Clock Club was born.
Every morning, Mom wakes up at about 4:30 a.m. She makes her coffee and then she makes phone calls—to the Bradshaw, Chesemore, and Whitacre homes. We all answer in our groggy voices—“thanks, Mom” and then roll out of bed sometime between 5:00 and 5:30.
I have to say for the record, that after Mom, Janelle is the most consistent member of the 5 O’Clock Club. This should give women around the world hope for rising early, because until this past year, Janelle would have been the champion sleeper of our family. If Janelle can do it—anyone can.
So why should you join the 5 O’Clock Club? For starters, getting up early ensures you get a quiet time each day. If you have children, you know that “quiet time” after they are awake is something of a misnomer. If you work a job or go to school, being on time is usually non-negotiable. Waking up late means your quiet time is probably the first to go.
Referring to Bible reading and prayer, John Piper says: “I earnestly recommend that it be in the early morning, unless there are some extenuating circumstances. Entering the day without a serious meeting with God, over his Word and in prayer, is like entering the battle without tending to your weapons. The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep. The body does, but not the heart. We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer.”
A second reason for getting up early is that you are prepared to serve your family’s needs. Rather than be awakened by husband or children and expected to meet needs before you are fully conscious, you are ready to serve your family when they arise.
Now that you have two good reasons for rising early, I want to stress that this will look different for everyone! The point is not that really godly women get up at 5:00 a.m.! Nowhere in the Bible will you find such a principle. The point is that there are great benefits to rising early—both for your spiritual life and the good of your family. And there are Scriptures that encourage this practice (Psalm 5:3, Prov. 31:15, Mark 1:35). But “early” will look different for every woman reading this post!
Also, this practice may not be realistic for moms with young children who still get up at night. You are already a part of the midnight club and the 3:00a.m. club, aren’t you? No mother of an infant should be condemned by this post. This is a time management principle to consider in the future.
At this point you might be saying, this sounds like a great idea, but how do you do it? I’m just not a morning person and I’m not sure I can get up early! Here’s Mom’s strategy, and her sleep-loving children can testify that it works:
- Set my alarm for the same time everyday.
- Get up. Turn off alarm, which is strategically placed on the other side of the room. (I’ve learned this is my most critical moment in getting up early. It is crucial that I never, never, never, hit the snooze button or lie back down to catch a few more winks.)
- Head straight to bathroom and then proceed directly to the coffee pot.
- Be prepared to feel absolutely miserable for about 10 to 15 minutes. (But the feeling of misery turns into pure gladness as I soon experience the delight of having that alone time and as I reap the benefits all day long. It is totally worth feeling miserable for about 15 minutes.)
- Your body responds to a regular wake up time. In other words, it gets easier.
So, do you want to join our crazy club? Try it for a week, and if it doesn’t work for you, well, at least there wasn’t a membership fee.
Today Crosswalk.com is featuring an article by Mom on mother-daughter communication. Read it here.
Last week we talked about three biblical truths related to time management and organization—the source of our justification, the source of our ability, and the source of our motivation. Starting this week, we want to consider seven practices to become more diligent and efficient in managing our time and organizing our surroundings.
Now it was no accident that we discussed the biblical truths before the practices. That’s because biblical truths must govern all of our time management and organizational practices. For example: I do not earn God’s approval by getting up at 5:00 AM every morning to pursue the spiritual disciplines (a practice); I’m accepted by God only because of Christ’s finished work on my behalf (a biblical truth). I can only organize my closet (a practice) in a manner that honors God by looking to Him for guidance and strength (a biblical truth).
See, practices alone, though a means of grace, do not transform us. My life is not ultimately changed by becoming more disciplined or getting more organized. Rather, I am changed as I grasp the truth of justification, depend on the Lord throughout the day, and do whatever I do for His glory. Hence, anytime we seek to implement a new practice, we must always revisit these biblical truths; otherwise, our practices will become new forms of legalism.
So with this in mind, I came up with a list of 7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman (to borrow from the title of the bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). We will consider these 7 habits over the next few days. This list has evolved out of my years of personal study on this topic. It certainly is not an exhaustive list; however, I hope it will be helpful.
7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman:
1. She rises early
2. She maintains the spiritual disciplines
3. She focuses on relational priorities for every season
4. She sets up regular times for planning
5. She develops an effective to-do list system and calendar/planner system
6. She establishes an efficient routine for managing her home
7. She organizes her house systematically
Now please do not try to apply all of these at once! That wouldn’t be wise. And remember that only God manages His time flawlessly. Only God is perfectly organized. Only God completes His to-do list. And we are not God. We are finite creatures and we might as well get comfortable with our finiteness.
Let me suggest you isolate one to three habits for application. David Powlison encourages us similarly: “Just as we don’t change all at once, so we don’t swallow all of truth in one gulp. We are simple people. You can’t remember ten things at once. Invariably, if you could remember just ONE true thing…you’d be different.”
So, in humility, let’s take a single sip of truth. And that one sip, if truly digested, will affect many other areas as well.
We recently, (and quite humbly, I might add) re-posted the “Bad Women Drivers” mantage, poking fun at an oft-perpetuated female stereotype. I figured it was only fair to include some corresponding, less-than-stellar moments representing the male population. My husband forwarded to me these “2005 Safety At Work Awards.” I think this makes us even! Enjoy!
As my husband often reminds me: “Don’t forget, safety first!”
Happy Weekend All!
(for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle)
As Christians we must keep a close watch on why we do what we do. This applies to how we manage our time and organize our world. Thus, the source of our motivation is the topic of today’s post and the final point in this little series (if you’re joining us for the first time this week, you can catch up on our discussion by reading parts one, two, and three).
Ah yes, our motives. How easy it is to assume that they are pure and noble. But let’s stop and ask ourselves: Why do we attempt to make good use of our time and organize our homes, our offices, our lives? Well, let’s be honest. All too often our motives are sinful and selfish. For example, can you relate to any of the following reasons for organizing your life?
- I feel good about myself when I’ve had a productive day, or my home or office is organized.
- I want others to be impressed by how efficient and “on top of things” I am.
- I am afraid people will think I’m lazy or incompetent if my house or office is messy, or if I don’t plan my schedule well.
- I want my boss to notice my time-management and organizational skills so I can get ahead.
- I want other women to admire how I manage my home.
- I have a really hard time if my house or office isn’t neat or if my schedule doesn’t work out.
Here’s the danger. We can be the most organized, efficient woman possible and yet fail to please and glorify God. We can have our homes, offices and lives in order, but for the wrong purpose and person - ourselves.
Once again Scripture comes to the rescue and addresses the appropriate motve for time management: “Whether you eat or dring (or organize or plan or manage your time), whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
So before we begin to plan and organize our lives, let’s give attention to that which is most important - our motives. Let’s by the grace of God plan and organize so as to more effectively serve God for the glory of God alone. This holy motive will have a transforming effect on our attitude and approach to time management and any task we tackle. And this way, even when our homes or our offices are a mess, our hearts will be pleasing to God.