How To Deal With Excessive Busyness
Trying to squeeze too many activities into too few hours can leave you overwhelmed. Especially in ministry. You may be bragging about how busy you are to other pastors or your church members because it secretly makes you feel important and successful. But you need to realize that it’s not good for you personally and it doesn’t make you look like a better leader. More likely than not, it makes you look like you’re not a good leader. This may take a bit to shift your thinking but your ministry will be much better off when you break the cycle of excessive busyness.
The epidemic of excessive busyness among ministry leaders often leaves us feeling rushed, discontent, and short on time. Hurting our walk with God because we think that He will surely understand why we don’t spend more time with Him. After all, as Pastors and ministry leaders we are doing His work! However, we all know that God cares more about our relationship with Him than what we produce.
Choose your priorities.
In order to choose my priorities, I have to be intentional about them. I start by asking myself what is most important to me and what God has called me to do. From there, I make a list of the activities that fit into those categories and try to focus on those things each day. It's not always easy to stick to my list, but it's important to be intentional about how I'm spending my time.
Here is a sample of what I have done as a Pastor to make sure I stay on my priorities each day and week:
1. Monday - Confirmation:
I spend time confirming what God has done in people's lives over the weekend services. And do what follow-up is necessary to solidify that work in their lives, be it through calls, emails, staff, etc...
2. Tuesday - Concentration:
This is my time to study and prepare for next weekend. No doubt there is more study and prep than just Tuesdays, but that is the priority on a Tuesday for me.
3. Wednesday - Conceptualization:
This day's priority is vision. On Wednesdays, I make sure to have meetings and time set aside to focus on moving the vision for the church and ministry forward. As Pastors, we need time weekly to keep the church focused on the vision God has for us.
4. Thursday - Compilation:
All those great ideas for creative messages that come from Tuesday study times have to be put together. Illustration material gathered etc. (I must confess, as our church staff has grown many times a staff member will do this for me on a Wednesday nowadays.)
5. Friday - Cessation:
Cease working. Wow, what a novice idea for us as Pastors and ministry leaders! Actually, I think it is pretty much God's idea for us. To cease work doesn't mean I just lay around being bored. I heard Rick Warren speaking on this year ago. He said if you work with your mind, rest with your hands. If you work with your hands, rest by doing something with your mind. For instance, I don't read on my day of rest, I don't want to. I have to read so much for work, that sitting and reading a book does not sound enjoyable to me. I like to paint - use my hands - I find it very relaxing.
6. Saturday - Contemplation:
On Saturday I want to start internalizing my message. Letting my heart and mind contemplate all that I feel the Lord has given me to teach this coming weekend. While I may do fun things with the family, I guard what they are to not allow the priority of contemplation to be stolen.
7. Sunday - Communication:
It's what we do in ministry. Communicating the Good News. My priority for this day is just that. But not only giving a sermon but communicating with everyone relationally as much as possible. My priority is to be available for them before and after services and even through scheduled meetings. (For several years now we have done Saturday services so the communication priority overlaps Saturday evening and Sundays for me.)
I recognize that bits and pieces of all of these priorities happen every day in ministry. the intent of living by these priorities is not that we live such orderly lives that we only communicate with our people on Sundays or only study on Tuesdays. But living by a system of priorities allows you to schedule accordingly and to have staff volunteers on the same page. They often protect and make sure you are able to do what you need to do.
By living by a system of daily/weekly priorities, I have had the time to focus on so many other visions that God has placed in my heart, like writing books and devotionals and even doing a little blogging. I'm sure that as a ministry leader you have some of your own. Take it and make it your own. Move the days around according to the flow that works best for you. By getting a system of priorities in place for your days, you can begin to break the cycle of excessive busyness and enjoy the journey of ministry once again.
Here's to living in the joy of Jesus every day through the ministry you are called to!