I was amused when Elaine, in her sermon last Sunday, told of a time management course for clergy which had overrun. This in turn had led to a late lunch and, not surprisingly, disgruntled participants. Those running the course had not managed themselves, because, in truth we cannot ‘manage time’. Time management is about self-management.
As measured by our clocks and watches, we all have the same amount of hours in a day. Depending on our circumstances, we all have some room for choice within those hours. We may be constrained to an extent by the duties and expectations of our workplace. We are also constrained and controlled by our ‘drivers’ – those shoulds, musts, oughts and got tos we have grown up with that tell us how to behave. There are many of them: be perfect, be good, finish what you’ve started, do what you said you’d do, get everything right, put others first, be the best…. Yet, Jesus only gave us one command – one driver, if you like: Love God and love your neighbour as yourself. A teaching that is more about relationships and ‘being’ than about ‘doing’.
As Elaine mentioned, Radio 2’s theme for the day was ‘relaxation’. Relaxation can suggest ‘time off’, but actually, whatever we are doing, life is more pleasurable and we are more effective when we are calm and relaxed. But our drivers don’t easily let us relax. They think that they are doing a good job in urging us on! So can we acknowledge that? Then can we be kind and compassionate towards ourselves and particularly towards those parts of us that want to drive us on? At the same time, can we recognise that allowing our drivers to rule our lives is not in our deeper interests?
To be able to relax requires us to come into the present and to pay attention to ourselves. We are not used to it. Often we would rather distract ourselves with activity than relax. But attention is love and giving ourselves some attention is the basis for responding to the only driver that really matters.