Time & Relationship Management

December 1st, 2011 · by Tom Stuart · Life Balance

“All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter.”  Esther4:11 (NLT)

The Persian king Xerxes (or Ahasuerus depending on your translation) was a world ruler and likely the busiest men in his day.  That coupled with his infatuation with his own sense of self importance apparently drove him to becoming a time management freak.

His ruthlessness in managing his priorities, to the point of killing anyone who dared to interrupt him, was known throughout the realm.  Anyone wanting to do business with him or even any family member wanting to spend time with him risked their very lives in taking initiative to see him. 

Imagine the fear of having to deal with, or worse yet having to live, with someone so task oriented and self-protective of his time?  Watch out, if the old man is preoccupied, feeling overloaded or in a grumpy mood he could lop off your head for bothering him!

We would all be quick to agree that this is time management run amuck.  It is a caricature of how detrimental it is when task management becomes exclusive of relationship management. 

Wise time management is first and foremost relationship management. 

The book of Esther, documenting the salvation of the Jews through the efforts of Mordecai and Queen Esther, is a great study in the priority of relationship management. 

It is a common pitfall, especially for men, when we are caught up in the pursuit of our interests, projects and jobs to do so at the expense of important relationships in our lives.  Unfortunately, like Xerxes, we sacrifice people, particularly family, on the altar of getting the job done.

This has been well documented as every self respecting father and husband knows.  Enough Father’s Day sermonettes for Christianettes using the theme song “Cats in the Cradle” have been preached to warrant a Time Life CD Collection.

To my own embarrassment I can totally identify with the oft repeated cartoon and sit-com scene of the preoccupied parent or spouse who chooses to ignore a relationship crying for attention.  Misplaced priorities, even noble, well-intentioned ones that take their toll on relationships need to be readjusted immediately!

Such readjustments are not always easy.  In the case of Xerxes it took three days of concerted prayer and fasting, by all the Jews in the capital city ofSusa.  Thankfully God heard their plea and Xerxes’ heart was open to receiving Esther’s interruptive request. (5:1-3) 

Hopefully your time management obsessions are not so ingrained that they need such radical measures.  But if they are, God certainly has a ways and means committee to help you readjust them to bring relationships to the fore.

The Lord also afflicted King Xerxes with a sleepless night.  The insomnia caused him to reassess his life.  In the process of reviewing his reign, it came to his attention that he had failed to express appreciation to Mordecai for warning him about an assassination attempt. (Esther 6:1-3)  Pausing to reflect often allows our hearts time to consider the people for whom we are thankful.  That adjustment in his perspective saved Mordecai’s life, helped thwart Haman’s evil plan to massacre the Jews and in the end made Xerxes an even more effective and admired ruler.

Like Xerxes, I never cease to be amazed at all the things God does in people’s lives and the lives of others when they put relationships before projects.  Xerxes’ willingness to adjust to Esther’s momentary interruption opened the door to a whole series of interactions that resulted in life-changing consequences for thousands of people.

Moving our key relationships to the front of the time management equation has a multiplying effect on our results.  When we keep relationship management our priority it becomes easier to make adjustments for interruptions.  Who knows what chain of blessing God might want to begin through your making room for people interruptions.

What adjustments is God speaking to you to make?

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