It’s January 2015 and yes, this is one of those “it’s the new year and we all have new opportunities” type articles. In January, we tend to focus on losing weight, exercise, and eating healthier foods but getting a handle on priorities and time management is just as important, especially for those working in church offices. The way we prioritize now will impact our entire year.
Define what God wants you to do
You can’t do everything people want you to do because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. With that in mind, it’s important that you know what God wants you to do and stick to those things. Additional small tasks can accumulate and take a lot of time and that new program being suggested may be a great idea, but if it’s not in the sphere of things God wants you to do, push back. What about a volunteer to take it on? If it’s meant to be, God will provide those to do the work.
Feed yourself spiritually
I read several stories about pastors who walked away from ministry, and although I’m sure it’s not true for all who’ve left, many shared they spent so much time “doing ministry” that they short changed their time with God. You can’t stay strong without being fed.
Have a schedule and keep it
If you’re into tech stuff, use a calendar/task app or software to note meetings and things to do. If you don’t like techy things, use a paper scheduler. Use what works for you!
Don’t over-schedule, in fact leave some gaps in your day to deal with important things that may come up.
Each night, review your schedule for the following day so you are prepared and have no surprises when you walk into the office.
Prioritize your list of to-dos – If you have five things on your to-do list and know you can either get four of them done or just one, you might think it best to do the four and leave the fifth. But that fifth item might be the most important, such as your Sunday sermon, and contrary to what you might think, many in your congregation will know if you aren’t prepared on Sunday morning.
Don’t procrastinate – I’ve heard some church staff complain about not having enough time to get things done (and it might be true) yet they wander through buildings, spend excessive time on Facebook, or waste time in other ways.
Stick to scheduled meeting times and expect everyone to be ready when they arrive – If they aren’t, then some coaching is needed, and make sure an Action Plan is in place by the end of the meeting.
Have a plan to deal with email and phone calls – Have scheduled times throughout the day to check email and voice mail and deal with them. If you stop every time you receive an email or a phone call, it will be very difficult to complete tasks.
Your ministry is to your entire flock – I once saw a statistic that said in some churches 10% of the people dominate 90% of a pastor’s time. Certainly some people have more needs than others but don’t let a few consistently dominate your time.
Even Jesus rested (Mark 6:30-32). If He needed time to get away, you do too. Rest allows you to refocus and helps you maintain mental, physical, and spiritual reserves. One of my husband’s favorite sayings is “You need a reserve to be able to serve.”
Don’t neglect your family
Time with your family strengthens family bonds, fosters communication, leads to less behavioral issues, and can help lower stress levels. We hear about many church staff, especially pastors, who neglect their families because “they are doing God’s work.” This doesn’t please God and most likely will have long lasting effects on the spouse and children.
Sit down and think through your priorities. If changes need to be made, create a plan and start to implement it. Some can’t/won’t happen instantly, but remember “Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch, yard by yard, everything’s hard” – yeah, that’s another one of my husband’s sayings.