See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
-Ephesians 5:15-16

For many of us in Christian leadership, this passage of scripture is quite familiar, and we may have used often in our teaching and preaching, so it can be easy to see it only from the perspective of our religious traditions. Now, I’m not saying that this is a bad thing in and of itself, since Christ never condemned religion, but rather condemned hypocrisy and religious traditions contrived by man. It’s there that the problem arises. Because we, in so many ways, have been taught to understand and interpret scripture within the framework of ‘church’ and the traditions thereof, sometimes we can miss out on the deeper meaning of what God is saying.
This particular passage is usually seen as simply an admonition to be discreet, and to use our time wisely, and this is certainly true. Likewise, it’s also taken as a call to be sure that we have shared the Gospel as often and as well as we can, which is also true. However, I would like to submit for your prayerful consideration that this is also an exhortation to be wise and efficient with our activity and time in regard to business, relationships, and the work of discipleship.
In the business world, there is something referred to as the Pareto Principle, or the 80-20 rule and the Law of the Vital Few. This principle is used as a means of evaluating efficiency and effectiveness. In a nutshell, the 80-20 rule states that, for many events and situations, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It is named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. It is now widely observed that in almost any kind of endeavor, 80% of our results tend to come from about 20% of our efforts, and numerous studies as well as business leaders confirm this the world over.

What does this imply when it comes to ‘redeeming the time?’ For one, it certainly seems to suggest that we tend to waste a lot of time on activity that is wasteful or unfruitful. As discouraging as that might seem, this knowledge offers a tremendous opportunity. Once we take some time to evaluate how we’ve used our time and which efforts are driving most of our good results, we can shift our priorities to devote more time to those things which are productive and less time to the rest. In the gospels, we can see this principle in action in how Jesus mentored his disciples. He preached, taught, and ministered to the multitudes, but he spent more time praying and closely mentoring the 12. What the exact ratios were, we’ll probably never know, but I’d like you to consider that the 80-20 ratio that tends to happen worldwide is partly the result of a world that operates inefficiently because we have all fallen short. Therefore, it stands to reason that the sinless Son of God probably had better time management skills than us.

I challenge you today to take an honest critical look at where you’re putting your time and effort. Some of you may have already mastered the art of efficient time management, and for that, I salute you. However, for most of us, this is not the case, and it would behoove all of us to take a closer look and make the adjustments necessary to make the best use of the time God has given us in the earth.

God bless you, and God keep you.