It is a widely known fact that the work of ministry is never done.
Too often as leaders, we find ourselves understaffed, overworked, and overwhelmed and on the brink of exhaustion.
But what if there were a few healthy habits that we could develop that could help minimize our stress and maximize our effectiveness ?
I believe there are.
Here are a few things that I have learned over the years that have helped me get things done more quickly so that I have more time for life and family.
1. Investigate the Work.
In my opinion, this is the most important part of the process. It begins by periodically taking a hard, honest look at all that I am doing in a regular week by periodically keeping a “time diary” in which I write down each thing that I am doing. That’s right. Every phone call, email, and moment I spent on a sermon or blog post. Every task. The goal here is to figure out exactly where my time is going so that I can begin to realign it with where it should be going to help me be as effective as possible.
2. Evaluate the work.
Once I have determined where I am, I can now set a course for where I want to go. That destination is what Andy Stanley calls the “sweet spot”– the place where I am adding the most value to our ministry and experiencing the most joy. This is the place where I am “doing the things that only I can do.” In this season, that includes things like casting vision and leading our new church, raising up future church planters, most of the public preaching, and catalyzing new church plants in our region. This process has allowed me to identify how to best block my time, which tasks should be completed at which times of day and also where I was wasting time and didn’t even realize it. It also helped me identify which tasks should be placed into other categories.
3. Delegate the Work.
Every pastor knows intuitively that he should be doing this and yet struggles to do it practically. The question that has helped me most in this area is tied to the principle I mentioned before. “Is this something that only I can do?” I mentioned my list above and you likely have a similar one as well. The problem is for most of us is that there is often plenty on that list because we have a control freak streak as well, isn’t there? The general rule is if someone else can do it at least 60-80% as well as we can, there’s a good chance we should hand it off to focus on the things that “only we” can do.
4. Automate the Work.
There are plenty of things in ministry that cannot be automated. But what about setting recurring reminders in your calendar for recurring events or automating paying your bills at home? Time is time, right? Since time is what we seem to need more, any time we can save in one area can be spent in another area.
5. Assassinate your “Time Thieves.”
Through my process of Investigation, I realized that I was spending time doing things that were related to ministry but that weren’t helping move the ball up the field as much as they could be. For many pastors, it is reading too many blogs, checking the news too often, or even spending more time than necessary on Twitter and Facebook. Each of will have our own tendencies to “get lost” in certain things, but time wasted online typically has to be made up elsewhere and takes time away from our children who will be grown and gone all to soon.
In light of what I’ve shared, what changes do you need to make today?
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