A few years ago I heard someone say that we can either spend time or invest time. I had never heard that comparison before, but it made an impression on me. Because time is an expendable commodity it is important that we invest our time wisely.
Last night I was reading How to Get to the Top: Business Lessons Learned at the Dinner Table (Fox Business Library) by Jeffrey Fox. He was writing about bad ROT which is bad return on time. While the book focuses on business the principle is true for those of us in ministry. There are some things that we in church leadership should avoid doing as much as possible because the return we get from that activity will be low.
Fox explains that bad ROT is squandering time solving minor problems. Sometimes it seems as if that is how we spend much of our time, and we need to stop and ask if it is worth it. How long are you willing to stay on hold waiting to talk to a person about a $5.00 charge that you think is excessive? Is it important to respond to every perceived slight or criticism, or might it be better to simply walk away knowing that you'll never please some people.
Another way we get a bad ROT is doing things we're not very good at doing. I can change the spark plugs on a car, but because I am not very mechanical it will take me three times longer, and there is no guarantee the car will run when I'm finished. I get a much better ROT taking my car to the garage and reading a book in the waiting room or getting a loaner car to continue my planned activities while trained mechanics work on my car
Learning to delegate is one important way we will get a better return on our time. Spend more time working in the areas of your strengths and gifts, and you'll accomplish a lot more than if you try to do everything yourself. Pastors are not always good at delegating, but this is something we need to learn if we want to better manage our time.
It's also important to invest your time in the things that will help you achieve your goals and the vision of the church. This is why it is so important to understand your priorities and to set annual goals that will help you achieve those priorities. This helps you stay focused on the most important tasks. Time you spend on these tasks will be an investment of your time on truly important things, but this will not happen if you spend too much time dealing with lesser things.