It seems there are always more opportunities than hours in the day. Always more people to see, more needs to meet, more work to do. It’s easy to identify with Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring: “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
Are we supposed to feel like that all the time? Should our planners be continually overbooked? Should the normal pace of our lives yield overwhelming pressure and exhaustion? Is that what Jesus meant by abundant life (John 10:10)?
If not, how are we to manage our seasons and schedules? Saying no to everything isn’t “living on mission,” and saying yes to everything isn’t a recipe for God’s glory either. The extremist in all of us must be wrangled according to Scripture. Which leads to an important question: How did Jesus maximize his season?
The best way to maximize your current season is the way you maximize most things in the Christian life—by imitating Christ himself (Eph. 5:1). It’s easy to forget that Jesus’s public ministry was only a fraction of his life.
How did he maximize the three years of his public ministry? Here are a couple ways.
1. His schedule was dictated by the Father’s will.
Though fully God, Jesus didn’t exit the womb expositing Scripture and rebuking Pharisees. He was a child who “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom” (Luke 2:40). Jesus was taught to read and write by people he had written into existence. He wrote their DNA; they taught him spelling. His humility was on full display.
Jesus was also taught by his Father, who sovereignly directed his schedule. His earthly ministry began and ended according to the Father’s will (Gal. 4:4–5; Rom. 5:6) and was sustained by the Father’s voice, whose substance is greater than any daily bread (Matt. 4:4; John 4:3). As Jesus declared, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38).
Jesus was taught to read and write by people he had written into existence. He wrote their DNA; they taught him spelling.
The Gospels are filled with the Father’s strategic planning skills being carried out in his Son’s life, even—no, especially—when contrary to human reasoning. At his Father’s prompting, Jesus said yes to things that cut against the grain of religion (dining with prostitutes and tax collectors, rescuing outcasts, rebutting religious leaders) and no to “good” things (going straight to Bethany upon hearing of Lazarus’s illness, or letting people follow him post-conversion).
His schedule was completely dictated by his Father, confounding the finite brains of his companions.
2. He refueled regularly.
Our Savior needed alone time (and introverts everywhere rejoice). How comforting to know we’re not alone in our need to recharge and refuel. Look at the eternal Son of God rising early to withdraw from the pressure of the crowds and meet with his Father.
Great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:15–16)
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:46)
For Jesus, refueling wasn’t a time for self-indulgence; it was a spiritual necessity. He wasn’t escaping responsibilities but focusing on the most important one—guarding his most important relationship. Perhaps it was during these times that he gained the unshakable confidence in his Father’s will that freed him to rest—nap even—during storms and sounds of human panic.
Trusting the Master Scheduler
Just as Jesus submitted his schedule to his Father, so we ought to resign each aspect of our lives to his perfect plan. It’s not about doing more or less to “maximize your season”; it’s about submitting to the One who gives—and refuels—new hearts, the Master Scheduler who calls you to be more faithful than innovative.
To maximize each season of life, we must do one supreme thing: relentlessly return to the gospel that declares Jesus paid it all. Because performance was enough, we are free to be still and know that he is God, that he is good, and that he is great at orchestrating our days for our joy and his praise.
We don’t have to say yes to every coffee date, ministry opportunity, or Bible study. There is no shame in setting limitations (or embracing the ones you have). Instead, let your limitations preach the sermon God designed them to. Let them showcase the glory of the beginningless One who became like us, leaving us a model of maximizing a season—a life—to the hilt.