I was talking with another leader today about how to use your time as a leader. As a pastor, there is a lot to get done. People to meet with, sermons to write and preach, growing as a leader, developing leaders, counseling, walking with others. Throw in being married, a parent and the list continues to grow.
The same can be said about any job. There typically is more to do than time to do it in.
The question then becomes, “What do you do? How do you decide what you do?”
The answer to this question determines a lot about your effectiveness as a leader, spouse, parent, friend.
Typically, we do what is urgent or is a need. For many pastors, they meet with the people who are the loudest, the ones who are clamoring for attention. They might also meet with the ones who ask the most or people they want to keep happy.
As a leader, you need to continually ask yourself a series of questions about how you spend your time:
- What do I do that adds the most value to my church or organization?
- What uses my gifts and talents to their fullest extent?
- What do I love to do that energizes me?
- What can’t I give away?
- When am I most alert, creative, awake to do those things?
For me, the elders have determined that I add the most value to Revolution through preaching and then developing leaders (through the staff and missional communities), and connecting with new people. There are others leaders at Revolution who fill in gaps in other areas.
This means, I need to block out time for my sermon prep. I need to make sure it gets prime time for when my mind is alert, I’m creative and can get some quiet. For me, that is Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. I’m most awake in the morning. I can clear my calendar in the mornings, etc. This means I don’t check my email until lunch on those days. I stay away from breakfast meetings on those days (unless I need to schedule one).
Think in terms of percentage, not hours. This is a helpful idea for me. If you think about something you do, you might think, “I only spent 5 hours on it this week.” That might be true, but if you worked a 45-50 hour work week, that means you spent 9% of your week on that one thing. Was that strategic? The best use of your time? Was that a good way to use almost 10% of your week? I don’t know the answer to that. But thinking in terms of percentage of time instead of hours has been a helpful change for me.
Needs are real and will always be there. Some needs can wait, most needs are not as pressing as they first seem. Someone else may be able to meet the need in your place, and may do a better job than you at meeting that need.
I keep coming back to how can I be more strategic, how can I use my time to get the most value for the kingdom out of it, how can I steward my time well.