Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Make the best use of your 24 hours

Having led a number of workshops across the United States and Canada in the past seven or eight years I've had the opportunity to talk with a wide variety of pastors, many of them bivocational.  One thing that has remained constant in every workshop is that the number issue these pastors struggle with is time management.  I have coached a number of pastors, and at least one of our sessions always involves the struggle they have with trying to balance all the demands on their time.  If we could only get 2-3 more hours each day the problem would go away, but, of course, it wouldn't.  We would find more things to fill those hours as well.  Since we can't get more than the 24 hours that has been allotted to us we have to find the best use of those hours, and we have to find ways to protect every one of them.  In this post I want to highlight some of the suggestions you'll find for doing that in my book The Healthy Pastor: Easing the Pressures of Ministry.
  • Take control of your calendar.  You have to own your calendar.  If you allow others to control it you'll soon find they don't have the same priorities for your life that you have.
  • Make sure you do the things that are required of you.  Your family, your other job, and your church have certain things they require of you.  It's also vital you don't forget that God has certain expectations on you as well, and you have your own self-care needs that must not be ignored.
  • Know your spiritual gifts and strengths and work in those areas as much as possible.
  • Stop doing things that you do not need to do.  Learn to delegate and learn to allow some things to die that should have died years ago.  Churches are great at keeping dead things alive through artificial means.  Some things need a decent burial.
  • Make use of downtime.  Always keep a book handy so you can read if you get stuck somewhere.  Use that time to return phone calls.  On a long drive listen to CDs that will instruct and/or inspire you.
  • Develop a filing system that will help you locate items you need when it's time to prepare sermons or lessons.  Write things down so you don't have to remember them.
  • Keep your desk and workspace neat.  I admit this is one of my biggest challenges, but I know I am much more effective and efficient when my work area is organized.
  • Remember the Sabbath.  I know...I know....you're a minister so the rules don't apply to you.  Yes they do!  God gave us the Sabbath for a reason, and if you refuse to keep a Sabbath you are saying you are smarter than God.  You don't want to say that, do you?
  • Control people's access to you.  Everybody in your church doesn't need your cell phone number.  (In fact, virtually no one in your church needs your cell phone number.)  Once they get it you'll start feeling like a stray dog at a whistler's convention.  Use your caller ID and screen those people who believe their day just isn't the same if they can't talk to you for an hour or so every day.  Your voice mail will tell you which calls you need to return and how quickly.
For more details on each of these, and some advice on other issues of pastoral health, be sure to read the book mentioned above.

No comments: