Time Parasites – How To Free Up 30% of your Time
Young pastors are always asking me the question: “How do you find the time to do everything? You write sermons & blogs; video scripts & tweets; and then, somehow amidst all of this, you find the time to lead an organization?! How do you do it?”
Truth be told: there are many days when I feel like a total and complete failure! For years, I never wanted to teach on time management because, I felt like I was so terrible at it! But, as I look back, God has definitely expanded my capacity. And if you keep reading, I’m going to spill a few secrets by teaching you a little four-step exercise which could probably free up 30% of your busyness over the next 3 months! (I know, it sounds sensational. But it’s true.)
For example, we all know that we should be spending more time on strategic planning, recruiting, delegating, etc. In short, we should be working ON our ministries and organizations, not IN our ministries. But how do we shift? Through 4 simple steps.
But, one last thing: These tricks are specifically designed for those who lead in churches or nonprofits. But, even if you don’t lead in these environments, I still believe you’ll benefit from the concepts. And here they are:
(1). Write down your Day to Day / Week to week / Yearly job tasks/responsibilities? (Bullet point them).
i.e., don’t just focus on weekly responsibilities, but the things that transcend your department: (For Eg.,) Christmas services; fundraisers, or obligations that transcend your department. In light of the big picture, what are the tasks that simply make no sense for you to be doing? Make a “not to do list.” Chances are, there’s about 10% of your activities that simply should be eliminated in light of the others.
(2). Look down a List of Ministry Volunteers /Friends – & Delegate: Do you have anyone who’s capable of doing 80% of the quality that you could do? If so, begin writing their names after specific responsibilities. Chances are, there is another 10% of your activities that could be immediately delegated!
(3). Create an Invite/ Recruitment Plan: Every one of us has people sitting on the fringes of our lives who are totally inactive or unfulfilled when it comes to ministry ownership. Do you know of any volunteers who could be invited into higher levels of leadership and servanthood (Eg., under-utilized spouses, friends)? Most people will not step into higher levels of commitment and maturity unless they’re asked. Brainstorm a list of people who could use such an invitation. What are you going to do this month to personally invite them? Chances are, within 3 months, you could probably delegate another 10 to 20% of your activities.
(4). What is one thing, that if you did/stopped doing on a regular basis, would make the biggest difference on your ministry?This one singular question can change everything for you if you meditate on it on a regular basis. And in some ways, you could apply this question to anything: your marriage, your parenting, even your spiritual growth.
As one example: almost every ministry or department has what I like to call a “skill cliff” – it’s a certain set of skills that are required to maintain the quality and integrity of that department. Of course, the problem with skill cliffs are that they become bottlenecks for volunteers. Very few volunteers have the time or ability to acquire the skills necessary to serve at the next level. And those of us with those special talents often times work twice as often simply because, “no one else can do it!”
But, if you ever plan to Sabbath (or delegate, for that matter), you are going to need to learn how to build ladders (& eventually escalators) for these skill cliffs in your department (i.e., figure out how to train volunteers or simplify processes).
Generally speaking, we already know the answer to this (after all, we are in our position because we figured out how to scale that cliff!) So, this 4th question simply focuses our attention on the answer we already know. But what is that for you?
Of course, it should go without saying: pray your guts out that God would help you “redeem your time.” And last but not least, if you have a boss or upline, make sure that you include them in on this process – lest your quest for efficiency gets interpreted as rebellion! : )
But, here’s the big picture: As I look back on my life, many of my successes came after I gave myself to these 4 steps. Why? Because I learned how to work ON my ministry, as opposed to getting stuck working IN my ministry. In fact, now, I process these questions almost every 6 months. As our responsibilities expand, we need to constantly reassess where we spend our time. And especially for those of us who are pastors: There are souls at stake!
So “Heavenly father, help us to live our lives in a way that makes sense in light of eternity. In Jesus name, amen.”