Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Manage your time as a bivocational minister

There are so many things that demand the time of a bivocational minister, and its easy to lose track of the more important things to attend to lesser things that scream for our attention. Early in my years as a bivocational pastor I tended to focus on the squeaky wheel and failed to make sure I addressed all the important areas of my life. It ended up costing me dearly.

There are five areas of life a bivocational minister must ensure to keep in balance.

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Church
  4. Work
  5. Self
If any of these are ignored while too much focus in given to others it will cause your life to become unbalanced. The neglected areas will suffer, and eventually it will bring pain in your life.

We often talk about time management, but time management is really all about life management. When I address this in my seminars I talk about the importance of setting priorities in life. Priorities flow out of the vision you have for your life. What do you want to accomplish in life? What means the most to you? Where do you want to be in five years? What do you want your family relationships to look like? What vision do you have for your church and ministry? Where do you want to be financially, physically, and spiritually?

Achieving the vision you may have for your life seldom happens accidentally. It requires that you are intentional in each of these various areas, and the way to achieve that intentionality is to determine priorities for each of them. Those priorities should then be reflected in your planning calendar and your personal budget.

For example, clergy families sometimes suffer when ministry continuously takes priority over family activities. More than one pastor has been divorced because the spouse could not compete with the pastor's mistress, the church. You'll notice that family is listed above ahead of church, and this is done because I intentionally made the decision that I would not sacrifice my family on the altar of ministerial success. Since family was one of my priorities, how did that show up in my planning?

During my pastoral ministry my wife and I had a date set aside for every Friday evening. We would go out for a nice dinner, maybe do some shopping or something else, and grab a Starbucks for the ride back home. It was normally nothing elaborate, but the nice thing is that we went to a city an hour from our home. Sometimes the best part of the evening was the two hour drive we had on those dates when we could talk without fear of interruption. (This means you turn your cell phone off!) We also did other things together that we both enjoyed, but this Friday date was sacred to us. To ensure nothing interfered, her name was in my planning calendar so if anyone asked me to do something on Friday evenings I could legitimately tell them I had a previous appointment.

Both our children were involved in school sports, and we rarely missed any of their events. As soon as their sports schedules came out I put the dates down in my calendar and planned around them. Sometimes at an away track meet we might be the only parents from our school in attendance, but we were there.

You can manage your time only if you learn to manage your life. You might have to say no to some things that will interfere with your priorities. But, if you've not determined those priorities, others will determine them for you, and you may not be happy with the priorities they choose for you. Develop a personal vision for your life and determine the priorities you will need to achieve that vision. You'll find your life will be better balanced and much more enjoyable.

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