What Christians Can Learn From Parkinson’s Law


Parkinson’s Law says, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

Have you ever questioned why you haven’t made a bigger impact?

You look at acts in the New Testament and see that the early Christians gained momentum and impacted their world in a way that you long to see.

I believe one answer to this question is found in Parkinson’s law.

Parkinson’s Law says, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

So in other words, the deadline determines the diligence.

People will speed up or slow down based on how much time they think they have.

I’m sure you’ve been there.

  • Finishing up an assignment for work or school last minute because it’s due in the morning.
  • Late night test prep for a test that you’ve known about for a month.
  • Running to return a movie the is about to be late.
  • Buying last minute gift for some special occasion.
  • Racing well above the speed limit to get somewhere on time because you felt like you had plenty of time.

As long as you think you have more time you will take more time.

A warning to Christians from Parkinson’s law

Before Jesus ascended back to heaven He left the disciples with a command and some promises.

  1. Matthew – 28:19-20 disciple all nations 
  2. Matthew – 28:19-20 I will be with you
  3. Acts 1:8 – You will receive power from the Holy Spirit
  4. Acts 1:11 – I am coming back

So the disciples got to it.

Parkinson’s Law as a caution

After they received power from the Holy Spirit, the early church exploded.

I can only imagine that his disciples impacted the world the way they did because they lived with an urgency that Jesus was coming back soon.

However, I believe that after thousands of years expected Jesus to return many have relaxed their anticipation and their urgency has dwindled.

Parkinson’s law for them is it’s been 2000 years and Jesus has in return it’s possible that it’ll be another 2000 years before he returns.

So we probably have enough time.

There’s no need to run around frantically because it’s not like Jesus is coming back today.

But I think regardless of when Jesus is coming this is not how he wants us to live.

Scripture tells us that no one is promised tomorrow.

And yet somehow we go to bed expecting to wake up to a brand-new day.

Think about it, How often do you meet someone who goes to bed anticipating not to wake up.

Parkinson’s Law as a motivator

The good news is that we can take Parkinson’s Law and use it to our advantage.

We can move forward with this knowledge and become better stewards of our time.

Our calendars and schedules can become tools to accomplish the good works laid out for us instead of becoming a burden.

Here are some practical steps that Parkinson’s Law should motivate you to take:

Take inventory of your day and how you spend it.

Grab a sheet of paper and write out what a normal week looks like.

You can probably do this in 30 minute or hour long intervals.

Eliminate tasks and responsibilities that are time wasters.

What are things that you said yes to that you feel like a waste of time? I encourage you to pray about these things to check your heart to see why you are motivated to eliminate it.

Give yourself at least a week.

Eliminate responsibly. If someone is depending on you to do these tasks then find ways to either find a way to get them finished faster or hand them off to someone else.

If it’s just something that you started doing and you are not sure why then just eliminate it.

Prioritize the most important things in your life (God, family, Church).

As a Christian, there are three things that should take priority.

Your relationship with God.

The people that He has entrusted you with.

And the Church family He has blessed you with the opportunity to serve.

Set tighter deadlines on certain things so that you don’t procrastinate.

If your task “stretches” to fill the amount of time you think you have, you might need to change your deadlines.

Give yourself tighter deadlines so that try to do more faster.

Or if there is no deadline, make one. Procrastination is easy when there is no sense of urgency.

Schedule the important things so that they don’t get pushed to the side.

Even if you are not someone who likes to put everything on your calendar, you can at least use it for those things you know you can’t afford to miss out on.

Writing important to do’s on some type of calendar can help you any many ways.

Here are a few:

  • When someone or something tries to fill that time you won’t have to guess because you will have a legitimate response as to why you can’t.
  • Electronic calendars can help remind you through email and alarms. So you can almost set it and forget it.
    • This can actually help you with certain things like trying to get into a consistent devotional time every day.
  • Electronic calendars can also help you stay accountable because you can include other people to be notified.
    • Make sure and give them a heads up about what you’re dong so they are not caught off guard.
  • Putting something on a calendar will make those deadlines you are going to tighten a little more official.

On guard

Mark 13:32-33 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!

Not knowing when Jesus is coming back can easily set us into a will get there when we get there kind of mentality.

But God doesn’t want us to live that way.

He wants you to live on guard. He wants you to live with expectancy.

Expectancy that He has work for you to do today and the day after that. But also, with the expectancy that He could return at any moment.

Soul Check:

What tasks are you stretching out just to fill time?

Decide on one thing you will do today that will help you manage your time better.

Are there any activities or tasks that are taking priorities over the things that really matter?

Check out these other resources:

Confessions Of A Time Waster

Worshiping the god of Freedom

The Cold Hard/Ugly Truth About FOMO

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