by Irini Fambro
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space. Learn more here >
On my elementary school report card, one particular category was my nemesis. I did great with “can count up to 20” and “knows her alphabet”, but always seemed to struggle with this one: “uses time wisely”. Surely that had nothing to do with how smart I was, or did it?
I can almost feel my parents stare as they glanced from the box checked ‘unsatisfactory’ to me. Back to the box. Back to me. In elementary school, using time wisely didn’t seem particularly important. Perhaps this was because kids feel they have so much time ahead of them. I had so many more years ahead of me than I had behind me. My focus was always on the future rather than the present. I wanted a boyfriend (I’m pretty sure time stood still on that front), I wanted to be a teen, I couldn’t wait to drive, vote, go to college, get a job, get married, have a baby…and the list grew.
There were other things that I believed time would affect – the inexperience people saw when I was in my 20s, the tension of still being too young and not experienced enough in my 30s, the arrival points in my 40s, along with highly held expectations of my 50s, the grandeur of my 60s, and the enjoyment of my 70s and beyond.
I didn’t know when I was eight that my elementary school report card was on to something. One who “Uses Time Wisely” has a God-given gift.
Uses The word “use” denotes a stewardship of a resource. If time is a resource to be used then I would have to change how I thought about it. I am not a victim of time; I need to be a curator and steward of it.It means moving from complaining “I don’t have enough time!”, to asking “how can I use the time I have?”
Time. Are we speaking of linear time like past, present, and future? Yes. What about divine time like mow’ed (appointed time) and kairos (opportune time)? Yes. Measured time denotes minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades, and centuries and yet in the supernatural world a thousand years are like a day (II Peter 3:8-9). God himself “uses time wisely”. Realizing this makes me wish I’d taken my elementary report card more seriously.
Wisely. Wisdom is knowledge applied appropriately. To apply knowledge of time appropriately means that we understand God’s purposes in determining not only what happens, but when. There is a divine design in time. God’s wisdom in creating and understanding time far exceeds our own. His day doesn’t begin in the morning, it starts at night (Genesis 1:19). He starts from the end of a situation and moves to the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).
Time is a powerful resource.
Solomon—the king known for all his smarts—looked at time beyond what his sundial read. He said “there is a time,” (‘eth=an event or an experience), “for everything, and a season,” (zĕman= a set, appointed time), for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Found on this spectrum of time are encounters with life and death, new beginnings and growth, construction and deconstruction, and a sensorial spectrum of emotions, touch, sound, and sight. Solomon asked for the gift of wisdom and one of the ways he displays it is through an understanding of time. Solomon had something called temporal intelligence: being smart about time and timing.
Not everyone has the ability to notice these things. Those with temporal intelligence sometimes don’t know it’s a gift because it just comes naturally to them. But being smart about timing and patterns over time is a hidden God-given ability that needs unveiling. Being able to steward time is often an unacknowledged ability - but it is a significant ability nonetheless.
Temporal intelligence—or being able to use time wisely—harnesses the powerful resource not only of the time that is present, but learns from the past and as a result can borrow from understanding time in the future.
God may have gifted you with time smarts if...
• you notice the patterns of the past and how they affect the present,
• you’re aware of the weighted responsibility of the present moment,
• think about how the present will affect the future.
Having a great sense of God-given time helps us to make decisions and solve problems in every sphere.
Here are some questions I ask when brainstorming, decision-making, or problem-solving through the lens of temporal intelligence:
1. Is there anything I can learn from the past that could affect this decision?
2. What in this present moment is driving this decision?
3. Have I asked God about His timing in this decision?
4. What could occur if I waited on this decision?
5. What could occur if I rushed this decision?
6. Is the timing right to make this decision?
In elementary school I valued book smarts over time smarts. I’m thankful that I don’t have to choose which one is more valuable; they are both needed. I’m glad I can finally see the wisdom in what that report card was getting at… I just needed a little time.
Irini Fambro is a wife and mother, teacher and student, speaker and listener. She and her high school love, Kenneth, have two children: Kalila and Kenneth. She is an ordained minister that has her Masters of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and just recently finished her PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University.