A Bibilical View of Time: Shifting from Chronos to Kairos

Being reactive is often despised. We’re told that being proactive is the best course of action.

But which is a better model for effective time stewardship? The horse with blinders who plows the ground for hours and hours every day? Or the hawk whose sharp senses are scanning the area?

Ephesians 5:15-16
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

In our zeal to be good stewards of our time, we can miss the wisdom of the Bible. We end up running headlong down a path that we think is correct, but we just get further away from where we should be.

Such is the case with chronos and kairos. Both are Greek words which mean time, but they imply different things.

Chronos refers to minutes and seconds. It refers to time as a measurable resource.

Kairos is the word used for time in Ephesians 5:16 (which I examined in more detail here). Kairos means an appointed time, an opportune moment, or a due season.

The Chronos Outlook

We tend to think of our time in a chronos mindset. We think of having 24 hours in a day. We define our workweeks by the number of hours that we work. We have a list of things to do and only so much time to get everything done.

Being conscious of our minutes and seconds is a good thing. We should number our days as the scripture says. Our time on earth is so brief, and we want to be good stewards of every second that we have to glorify God on this earth.

But ironically, this chronos mindset can make us miss what Paul is saying in Ephesians 5. Paul instructs us to redeem the kairos – to pay attention and take advantage of the opportune times and seasons.

A Kairos View

We only have such a brief opportunity to shepherd our kids when they’re still young children. When a friend is experiencing pain, we have a brief window of time in which to reach out to them.

When friends of ours were going through a rough spot in their marriage, I went to lunch with the husband. Yes, it took up some of my chronos time. But I was able to share the gospel with this unsaved friend of mine, we prayed together, and he expressed an interest in learning more about Christ. It was a kairos opportunity.

Changing Our Mindset

This requires us to make a mental shift. Instead of looking at our time as grains of sand slipping through an hourglass, we view our time as opportunities flying by. Instead of viewing our time as seconds ticking by, we realize that not every second holds the same worth.

Some moments are more valuable than other moments. The five minutes that I have a chance to share the gospel with an unsaved friend is a more valuable five minutes than when I’m processing my Email. I have to take advantage of my opportunities.

We must change our view of what effectiveness really is. Though we want to use our minutes and seconds wisely, biblical effectiveness is not necessarily us ramming as much as we can into 24 hours. It’s not us putting our head down and plowing the field with as much vigor as we can muster.

Instead the effective steward is a focused watchman whose senses are attuned to the slightest hint of an opportunity. He’s a hawk on the lookout.

The effective steward not only recognizes these kairos opportunities but has the courage to leap upon them with all his might. And the effective steward has organized his schedule in such a way that leaves him open to seizing these opportunities.

Don’t let your diligence towards chronos choke out your attention to kairos.

Are you a horse or a hawk?

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  • Nhlamulo Baloyi

    I was at church last night and i was very blessed to have learned and understood the difference between chronos and kairos time. your aticle has given me more clarity on these subjects. As of the 18/01/12 im living a kairos time ( No opportunity will be missed).

    Thank you

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      That’s great – I’m so glad this has supplemented your learning. It’s certainly a different mindset to live in the world of kairos time.

  • mario

    If I may summarize: with chronos, we count our years while with kairos, we make our years count. Life is too short. May our Lord teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. (Ps. 90:12; Eph. 5:15-16) Lord bless you for your article.

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      That’s a nice way of saying it, heh.

  • NYEVE JORAMU

    God richly bless you my dear bretheren in Jesus Christ,because i got alot concerning chronos and kairos.I now know that god has the appointed time for me(kairos).May you keep on sending more subjects you mihgt need to share with me.

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      Thanks – glad you found it helpful!

  • ndipendoh

    this has stimulated my mind for more research.

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      The journey never ends!

  • http://taunetnelel.blogspot.com Maureen Jepchumba

    Hi Loren,

    I am also stimulated to do more research on Chronos versus Kairos. Ecclesiastes 3:11a(KJV) He hath made every thing beautiful in his time has sprung in my mind and I see it now in a whole different meaning.

    Thank you for the article. A blessing just in time :) for me. Be blessed.

    • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

      It’s a radically different mindset from the way we often approach it. It’s a concept worthy of more research!