The Danger of Time Management

To survive in academia, it is required that a professor become a good manager of his or her time.

Unfortunately, faculty are often asked to do more than they have time to do, and they become sorely tempted to drop “unnecessary” activities from their schedules, especially those that entail regular time commitments with no clear sense of completion or accomplishment when the activity is completed.

Unfortunately, Faculty Commons meetings can be seen by Christian faculty members in this light and can be put on the chopping block. This decision is simply a rational application of a professor’s well-honed time management skills.

The pandemic has only exacerbated this situation, making the professor’s job more time-demanding than ever. On top of this, the widespread use of Zoom has made the time-managing professor reevaluate in-person meetings altogether. 

Many professors have thought: “I can work entirely from home today if I don’t go in person to that Faculty Commons meeting, avoiding the need to drive to campus, find parking, and get to the meeting location. Plus, if I ‘attend’ via Zoom, I can multitask, getting my notes for tomorrow’s lecture in shape while listening to the meeting.” From a time-management perspective, this reasoning is not only sound, but wise.

But I wonder what God would think of such decisions. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another ….”

Nursing a sprained ankle, I chose to attend the first meeting of our Faculty Commons group this past year via Zoom. The group was able to meet in person on campus for the first time in more than a year, and the room was one of the most technologically advanced on campus. 

Microphones throughout the room enabled the listener to hear anything anyone said, and speakers and their slides could be seen and heard almost as if you were there in person.

Almost? Not really. As a Zoom participant, I felt like an interloper. Yes, I heard the speakers and saw their slides. But I admit I multitasked a bit during the meeting, and what I am sure was an excellent message went mostly in one ear and out the other. 

What I missed most were the conversations that took place before and after the meeting. I heard them – a cacophony of simultaneous conversations – but did not participate. 

I missed out on the unscripted, organic fellowship. I missed out on connecting with Christian believers who could encourage me while I encourage them. I missed out on showing them my concern for them (love) through my attention and perhaps offering help (good deeds) in some way. 

In short, I did exactly what Hebrews 10:24-25 said not to do.

The believers in the early church, including those addressed in the book of Hebrews, faced a lot more than inconvenience. They faced persecution. Yet they were told not to give up meeting together, “as some were in the habit of doing.”

The pandemic has given us all some new habits. Let us not make discontinuing informal meetings with believers, discontinuing church attendance, and discontinuing attendance at Faculty Commons events new habits for us. Let us rediscover the joys and fruits of in-person fellowship.   

Carl Baum
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Clemson University