Jordan Raynor: Redeeming Your Time
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Jordan RaynorJordan Raynor is the author of four books including the bestseller “Redeeming Your Time: 7 Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful, Present and Highly Productive,” and the children’s book “The Creator in You.” He helps Christians respond to the radical, biblical truth that their work matters for eternity. He does this through his books, “The Call to Mastery” podcast, and weekly devotional (“The Word Before Work”)—content that has served millions of Christ-followers in every...more
Need strategies to help you dial in your productivity and purpose? Author Jordan Raynor poses ideas to help you deal with distraction, redeeming your time.
Jordan Raynor: Redeeming Your Time
FamilyLife Today® National Radio Version (time edited) Transcript
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Redeeming Your Time
Guest: Jordan Raynor
From the series: Redeeming Your Time (Day 1 of 2)
Air date: September 29, 2022
Dave: Do you know what my word for the year was in 2022?
Ann: I have no idea. Do you have a word this year?
Dave: Well, yes; as a preacher, I’d always, the first Sunday of the new year, challenge or encourage our congregation: “Pick a word that you want God to do in you and through you for this year.” Well, I wasn’t preaching this year.
Ann: So you picked a word.
Dave: Well, I wasn’t preaching this year.
Ann: But you haven’t told me; I’m your one congregant.
Dave: I did tell you; you just don’t remember.
Ann: What is it?
Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: Yes, you are! And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: My word for 2022: “Present”—to be fully present in every situation—mostly, with people: with you, with our sons and daughters-in-law, our grandkids—right now, in the studio—I mean, “Be fully there.”
Ann: I feel like you’ve been doing that.
Dave: Oh, look at you, being Mrs. Encouragement.
Ann: No, I’m totally serious; because I used to complain about that a lot, because you’d always be on your phone. I’d say, “Oh, we’re watching a movie together; but it’s really me by myself”; but you haven’t been doing that.
Dave: Well, I’ve been working on it.
Ann: Look at you and your word!
Dave: The reason I bring it up is because the thing that keeps me—and probably a lot of us—from being fully present is we feel like our schedule is out of control: we’re swamped; we can’t manage our life. So I’m in one situation, but my mind is thinking forward or back; and I’m not fully there.
Ann: Men do that?—because women do that all the time.
Ann: We are always somewhere else in our heads.
Dave: All I know is everybody I know, including me, needs help with our time and our schedule. We’ve got the guy in the studio today to help us. Jordan Raynor is back with us. Well, actually, Jordan, this is your first time ever on FamilyLife Today.
Jordan: Long-time listener; first-time caller—I’m here! [Laughter]
Dave: Wait, wait, wait. I did not know “long-time listener.”
Jordan: Well, I mean, let’s qualify “long-time.” I was just telling you I was listening to your great episode with my friend, Jon Tyson; I love the show.
Dave: See, I wasn’t fully present so I didn’t catch that. [Laughter] I heard you say you know Jon; I didn’t know you listened to the actual program with him.
Jordan: I listened; yes.
Dave: You’ve written a book called Redeeming Your Time. As I read your bio—tell us a little bit about what you’ve done—because your bio is fantastic in terms of all the different sort of jobs you’ve had; and I don’t even understand what a tech—what was the title?—a tech what?
Jordan: —a serial tech entrepreneur?—is that it?
Dave: There you go!
Jordan: Is that the one?
Dave: Yes, what is that?
Jordan: I have spent the vast majority of my career as a tech entrepreneur, starting and selling a couple of different companies. Today, I create content full time—books, podcasts, etc.—helping us all connect the gospel to our work. If we believe that we have been saved for good works, as Paul talks about in Ephesians 2:10, we should care about redeeming our time because the days are evil as Paul says a couple chapters, later, in Ephesians 5:16. How do we do that in a Jesus-like way so that we can be purposeful—present, Dave—and wildly productive?
Dave: And you’re the guy, who redeems the time; because you showed up for this interview an hour early. [Laughter]
Jordan: That’s either redeeming the time or just having the wrong time on my calendar—I don’t know which one—but yes.
Dave: I mean, you had to drive over from Tampa, where you are married with three little girls.
Jordan: Three little girls; seven, five, and two.
Dave: So let’s talk a little bit about redeeming the time in a family.
Dave: What does that look like?—because you’ve got a crazy life; you’ve got little kids. Give us a perspective of: “How do you redeem your time?”
Jordan: The subtitle of this book is 7 Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful, Present, and Wildly Productive. That middle one—“present”—is really, I would argue, the most important one with young kids. I would find myself, for years, when I was running tech start-ups at the office—I would be super-focused; my phone was on “Do not disturb”— and then, I would come home; and it was a totally different story; right?
Ann: Yes, Jordan! This is every wife’s complaint—
Ann: —because we feel like you are home, but you’re not home. I know we do that, as women, too, especially if we are carrying our jobs; so you were feeling that.
Jordan: I was totally feeling this. By the grace of God alone, I’ve learned tools and tricks that I share in the book on how to be fully present. Honestly, the most basic one starts with just putting my phone to bed when I get home. At the end of the day, when I get home at whatever time it is—now, I work from home—so when I come downstairs at 5 pm, taking my cell phone and temporarily/basically, converting it into a landline; right?
I put it in our master bathroom. I’ll turn the ringer on just in case somebody calls, and I need to get to it; but my phone is on “Do not disturb.” Only calls from really important VIPs in my life can come through, but I don’t get notified of text messages. I have no temptation to check Instagram®, and I can be fully present with my kids and with my wife. That one little trick—keeping the phone away from 5 until 7:30 when the kids are asleep—that has been a game changer for me.
Dave: Now, you’ve been—I mean, how do you do that?—
Dave: —because I’m listening to that, going, “There is so much that happens after 5 o’clock or 6,”—whenever you workday is done—that I’m sitting here, going, “A text, an email; there is no way I can be productive/wildly productive.”
Ann: Isn’t he your hero?—he’s my hero.
Dave: Well, I’m just thinking, “How do you do this?” I’m guessing you haven’t always done this.
Jordan: No—everybody wants to do this—but nobody thinks it’s possible; right?
Jordan: It’s not just an issue of when we are with our kids; it’s also when we are at the office. The way we treat incoming messages—whether they are calls, or text messages, or emails—is certifiably insane; right? I use the analogy in the book about the mailman; right?
Dave: I know; I read this. I thought this was great.
Jordan: You read this—this is true—right?
Imagine that the mailman starts coming to your house, not one time a day, but one hundred fifty times a day. He doesn’t stay at the curb; right? He gets out of his car; he comes to your front door, rings the doorbell; and you get up from whatever you are doing and grab the mail—maybe, you open it; maybe, you don’t—but at a minimum, you are stealing a glance at who it is from. We would check you into an insane asylum! [Laughter] But this is exactly what we are doing with text messages and emails all day.
So back to your question, Dave: “How do we solve this? How do we take control of when we check messages and not the mailman?” Real, real simple:
- Step 1: “You choose, ahead of time, when you are going to check your messages,”—very, very simple. It doesn’t matter how many times you are going to check them. If you are in sales or customer service, you’re going to have to check your messages a heck of lot more than I will as a writer; that is fine. What matters is that you predetermine when you are going to check your messages.
- Step 2: “You build a list of VIPs, who can have access to you at all times, not just those predetermined times to check messages.” For me, VIPs in my life are my wife, my kids’ school, my assistant, my pastor, a few close friends; that’s it.
What I do: if you are an iPhone® user, add those people to the favorites list on your phone/if you are an Android user, add them to the people list; and then turn your phone on “Do not disturb” so that you will not be notified of text messages from those people; you will not be notified of app notifications. You will only be notified of calls from those people; right?
So Step 1, choose when you are going to check your messages; Step 2, make a list of VIPs.
- Then Step 3: “You’ve just got to set really clear expectations with the VIPs in your life.” Send your family, or your friends, or your boss, or your clients a text/an email that says: “Hey, in order to better serve you, and my family, and my work, I’m only checking messages from here on out at ‘X,’ ‘Y,’ and ‘Z’ times. However, Dave,”/”Ann, since you are VIPs in my life, you can get access to me anytime—but do not text message me; do not email me—call me on my cell; and if I’m available, I’m going to answer every single time.”
I’ve now coached, in group coaching situations, more than 1,000 people through those three steps. Nobody has reported missing anything truly urgent, and everybody is reporting doing their work up to twice as fast with a heck of a lot less anxiety.
Ann: Okay, we’ve got listeners thinking—and this is what I would think, as a woman: “How do we incorporate this in a home?”—especially—it’s true; we need to first look at ourselves—but then, if you feel like, “Oh, I feel like my husband is never here,” or “My teenage kids are constantly on the phones, and I don’t want to nag them,” how do we convince them?
Jordan: It’s such a good question. I’ve experienced this—I know a lot of others, who have—if you start modeling this behavior yourself, though; and you are fully present at the home; and you’re the one sitting on the couch at night, watching the movie, not check your phone—there is unspoken, and I think somewhat healthy guilt, that seeps into other people.
Ann: Jordan, will they notice?
Jordan: One hundred percent, they notice.
Ann: You think they will.
Jordan: I’ve experienced that they do. When I am with my family, for example—I love my father; “Dad, if you are listening, you are the greatest,”—but my dad is always on his phone/has been for many, many years. He has noticed, “Jordan is never on his phone around me anymore; he’s fully present.” So now, when he is with me, he is trying to be more intentional about putting it away—same thing with my wife.
If this is a challenge in your home with your teenagers, etc., start to model it. I can almost guarantee there is going to be this healthy guilt and shame that is setting in amongst the family. [Laughter] Then you can talk about it—right?—and have an honest conversation about it, and show other people how to implement these tools so that they can be fully present with one important thing or person at a time.
Ann: I like that. I could see myself, even—Dave, with you—saying, “Hey, what if we both turned off our phones for two hours tonight?” And we even took—it could be even ten minutes; and this is so attractive when Dave does this to me—when he will have nothing before him. His phone is gone; his device/his computer is gone; and he’ll just sit across the table, and say, “How are you doing? Tell me what’s going on.” I think that that’s a really good application to this.
Dave: Yes, and my question is: “How long does it take for a guy like me”—[Laughter]—I’m thinking of your dad—
Jordan: Yes, you and Tom would get along great.
Dave: I’m sure we would.
I mean, I don’t know—I just know that a year or so ago—my seven-year-old granddaughter said, “Poppy, you’re on your phone all the time.” I looked at her, like, “What are you talking about? I’m not on my phone that much.” I’m looking over at my wife, and she is shaking her head like, “Finally! Somebody else is saying what I’ve said.” So obviously, I have a problem.
Even as I’m listening to you, I’m like, “Put the phone away for two hours?! How is that possible?” You think: “I need to see that text,” “I need to see that email,” “I need to know, ‘What is the latest ESPN notification?’” It’s like: “No, I don’t,” “I don’t really; do I?”
But how long would it take for somebody like me—I’m not going to say I’m addicted—but—
Jordan: We all are addicted.
Dave: —to make the change?—can I do it in a week?—can I do it in a month?
Jordan: I’ve seen many people do this in a week. I was just talking to a reader the other day, who went, from an average of ten hours a day of screen time,—
Dave: Ten hours a day?!
Jordan: —to two in a week. That’s an enormous life-changing change in this person’s life.
By the way, the message that full presence/being fully present can communicate to others—as a football guy, you’ll love this, Dave—there is this great story about Bill Campbell, who is the greatest executive coach in Silicon Valley history. He was also a pee wee football coach; right? And [one of] his clients [was] Steve Jobs, the CEO of Google®, [and others who were] the biggest blue chip CEOs on the planet. He would say, “There is nothing more appealing and attractive to those kids when they would see a call from Steve Jobs on my cell phone, and me ignore it. Those kids knew I love them, and I cared about them, and I was all-in on serving them in that moment.”
Whether or not your client is Steve Jobs, or you are ignoring people from your church, or work, or whatever, in this day and age, being fully present—with our kids, and our spouse, and our work—is one of the most valuable presents we can give to the world and to the people around us.
Dave: I found it fascinating that you take the life of Jesus, and you say, “Okay, if we are going to redeem our time, let’s take a look at how He did that; so let’s learn from Him.” Where would you start?
Jordan: First, we’ve got to recognize that the Gospels—contrary to the way that we typically preach them—are not just there for us to learn theology and ethics. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are biographies of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Jordan: He is the Author of time who became flesh. How arrogant of us not to think that we can’t learn something about how to steward the same 24-hour day by looking at the Gospels.
Listen—of course, Jesus does not walk around with a to-do list in the 1st century or a smart watch—but when you read the Gospel biographies, they do show Jesus fighting for solitude, and dealing with distractions, and the temptation not to be fully present. They show Him being busy without being hurried. They are showing Him dealing with a lot of the same challenges that we face today. Because He is the perfect God, we can assume He did this perfectly. So that is why I wrote the book the way I did. Redeem Your Time are these seven timeless time-management principles, from the life of Christ, mapped to more than thirty practical practices that help us walk like He walked, today, in the 21st century.
Where do we start? We’ve got to start where Jesus started—with the Word—right? Jesus prioritized time with the Father above sleep, above eating, above time with His disciples; and if we want to redeem our time for eternal rather than temporal purposes, we’ve got to do the same.
Ann: What does that look like for you, Jordan?
Jordan: I’ve experimented a lot here—and I’m always experimenting/always changing it up—so it doesn’t become rote. The thing that has stuck most consistently for me is Martin Luther’s method of Bible study. He would take a passage of Scripture, and then he would respond to that passage in prayer by writing out four things:
- Number 1: “What is the passage instructing me to do?”
- Number 2: “What does this passage revealing about who God is that I can praise Him for?”
- Number 3: “Writing out a confession of where I have fallen short of God’s character and the instruction of that passage.”
- And then finally, Number 4 is an open-ended ask: “Asking for the Lord’s help to live out that command/to live up to His standards through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I’ve been doing that, off and on for years; and I love it. It just keeps me fully-engaged in my time in the Word in the mornings. I find that I get way too distracted if I’m not writing something down after reading Scripture. So that’s what is working for me; but whatever works for you works—what matters is that we are constantly communing with the Father—preaching the Gospel to ourselves before we seek to go and be productive throughout the rest of the day.
Dave: So how does a mom—
Dave: —I’m looking at you, because I know that, when our kids were little—and Jordan, you’ve got three younger kids—
Dave: —"How do you make that a priority? How do you find time in the Word?” We used to run to the bathroom just to get a break; and then they’d knock on the door. [Laughter]
Ann: They were in the bathroom with me.
Jordan: You too?—yes.
Ann: Yes; I think that was one of the hardest transitions for me with kids—because before having kids—I’d have my journal out; I’d have my Bible out; and I’m spending time praying, listening, singing.
I just [re-learned] how to read God’s Word. I had Bibles all over the house; I had them in the car. Now, it’s so great because you can listen to the Word; but I learned how to do it on the fly. Does that make sense?
Dave: Yes; I mean you’re the guru of redeeming your time, Jordan.
Jordan: I don’t know about that.
Dave: So what does it look like in your home?
Dave: I mean, you’ve got the little girls; you’ve got your wife. Does she get up at 4:30 and do it? How does it work?
Jordan: So this was a heck of a lot easier before kids; right?—[Laughter]
Ann: I know.
Jordan: —exponentially easier. So a few thoughts:
- Number 1: I do think this looks different in [different] seasons of life.
Ann: Me too.
Jordan: Some seasons, it could look like spending an hour in the Word every morning. Some seasons, it might be reading a verse, or reading one day of a devotional plan on YouVersion, or something like that.
- Secondly, I think in the church, we have really neglected and ignored the science that 30 percent of us are biologically hard-wired to be night owls. We talk about time in the Word—it’s morning obsessed—right?
Ann: Yes, and then you feel guilty.
Jordan: Then you feel guilty; but this is absurd. Jesus spent time with the Father late at night and very early in the morning. I just can’t believe that God cares when exactly we spend time with Him; what matters is that we do it.
And the last thing I would say is that—and this is the answer nobody wants to hear, including myself—
- “At some point, you’ve just got to make a choice, and recognize a tradeoff, and prioritize this over something that is good, but not as good as spending time with the Father.”
So I’ve got to give kudos to my wife. She just had to make the choice, years ago, when we started having kids that: “You know what? We’re just going to go to bed earlier, period; so that I can wake up and spend time with my Lord before the little ones start running around the house”; right?
Again, that’s the answer nobody wants to hear; but that’s the answer for a lot of us. We’ve got to make hard choices, but we’ve also got to make first things first things. The first thing for Jesus was spending time with the Father; how much more so do we need time with the Father before we go about our days?
Ann: I just remember that I had a friend who started praying about this—because she was realizing—she was a part of our Bible study, and she said, “You guys, I know I need to be with Jesus. I just want to sleep in until the kids get up.” She started praying, “Lord, wake me up. Wake me up before my alarm goes off,” or “…before my kids wake up.” Sure enough, she started waking up early. I am sure then that became a habit, but I loved that she started waking up because God longs to be with us.
I think to make that a priority—“People, I am not nice if I am not with Jesus,”—if I am not with Jesus, I am not nice to my kids. There is something about—I love it, Jordan—that the Word is the priority—that we’re spending time with Him: He longs to be with us, and He will equip us for the day.
Jordan: There are plenty of Scriptures that talk about how spending time in the Word gives us more time. I don’t know that we are to interpret that literally; but I do think it acts as a force multiplier on our time if we think about an eternal impact, because if I don’t know what the Word says, then I don’t know what God’s priorities are in the world. I can be “productive” at work, but not for eternal things; because I don’t know what eternal things are because I don’t know God and His mission in the world.
Ann: —or His Word.
Jordan: So again, if we want to redeem our time for eternal purposes/for the things that will last, we’ve got to know God; and know what His Word says; and know what He is doing in the world; and what He wants to do in and through us, acting as His agents of reconciliation in the world.
Dave: And one of the things that just hit me, as you were saying that, Jordan—and we talk about this in our book, Vertical Marriage; and we did a recent Reignite Your Marriage little workout, sort of seven-day workout—and it was this simple: “What would happen in your marriage if you spent time with the Lord together?”
Now, obviously, you want to do it individually—and we’re talking about that right now—if you took/and all we did was say, “What if you prayed together every day for a minute?” It could be two minutes, three minutes—but what if it was just a commitment to say—“As a married couple, we are going to spend time with the Lord,” which is your first principle/first practice together.
Again, I know there are couples listening right now, going, “Do you understand? I can’t even do it by myself!” What if the last thing you did before you fell asleep was just grabbed each other, and said, “Let’s pray for a minute”? It could literally refocus—am I right?
Jordan: Yes; and it’s so funny that you say this, because this is exactly what my wife and I do. It’s—we’re lying in bed—we’re exhausted, but we pray real quick together. I felt a lot of guilt over that: “Man, Lord, these prayers are so lame; they are so weak.”
But I do think what you are saying is an encouragement to me; because I do think the simple act of holding hands in bed, and recognizing that we are submitting—we are literally lying down before God, and submitting our lives to Him as the last thing we do before the day—is a powerful but simple message to preach to each other, as a couple, and to the family.
Shelby: You’re listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jordan Raynor on FamilyLife Today. Stay with us; Ann’s got one more thing to add.
But first, Jordan’s book is called Redeeming Your Time: 7 Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful, Present, and Wildly Productive. If you or someone you know could use some help with using time well—and maybe, we all can—you can get a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, you guys remember Bob Lepine; right?—the guy I stole this chair from? [Laughter] Well, he has got a new book out that we are really excited about. It’s called Build a Stronger Marriage: The Path to Oneness. It’s a great book to go through as a couple; or maybe, you could even go through it with another couple or a group of couples. It’s a chance to grow in your marriage and to help other marriages grow. We’d love to send you a copy with your gift this week at FamilyLife. You can give at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call with your donation at 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Alright; here is Ann with one more thought on praying, as a couple, right before bed.
Ann: And I’m going to add one more thing—it will help you to sleep better—is that the things that we are carrying: like we are all carrying things in our minds that are heavy; and a lot of times, if we have kids, it is our kids—the things they are going through, the things they are facing. I know that it has helped me a lot to go to sleep when I have prayed—and we have prayed together, Dave—of just saying, “Jesus, I give You this child,” or “…this grandchild,” and “They are heavy on my heart, so will You…”—and I will just pray quickly. I sleep better at night because I am not waking up, thinking about: “What can I do? What should you do?” That’s really helped us.
Shelby: That’s such a great example from Ann, really helpful.
This is going to sound, maybe, counterintuitive; but what if you are not getting enough done because you are not getting enough rest? Well, Jordan Raynor will be back to talk about just that tomorrow.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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