Pastors and ministry leaders are some of the busiest people on the planet. I know because I am one. We have a lot of responsibility, wear many hats, and have very little free time. Yet, time is one of the most precious commodities a pastor or ministry leader has. So, it's essential to be purposeful with how you spend your time each day if you want to be productive in ministry.
HERE ARE 7 TIPS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY:
1. Prayerfully plan your day the night before. At the end of each day, write out all the things you need to do the following day to achieve your ministry goals. Pull all the information you'll need, phone numbers, and relevant paperwork.
2. Prioritize your list. Number each item according to your priorities. Unfortunately, many start by doing complex jobs first. And they are not necessarily the highest priorities. Sunday is always coming, and some things on the list could be done after your sermon or weekend ministry prep. It's essential to avoid the temptation of just doing the easy jobs first. Prioritize for the sake of God's mission for you and your ministry and the people you are leading. It will help with motivation.
3. Stick to your list. Take time to check off each item as you go and avoid distractions. You don't have to respond to every email or text. Set up a schedule for checking your emails and notifications once every hour, once a day, or once a week, depending on your needs. Of course, there's always the potential for more serious matters that you can't anticipate. For example, someone in your church or ministry has lost a loved one or is at rope's end and requires prayer. The list goes out the window, at the very least, for the time they need. As a pastor or ministry leader, always pad the calendar a little. We will never accomplish as much in a day as we may believe we can because that is what we do.
4. Remember the Three "D's." Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it. As ministry leaders, we are so blessed to lead God's people. More than likely, there is someone in your congregation who would love to do the things you don't like doing or are not good at doing! God made us the Body of Christ, after all. So often, we pastors and ministry leaders are stealing the ministry of our congregation by doing too many things ourselves. Look at your list each night and apply the 3 "D's."
5. Don't procrastinate. Procrastination is the "Thief of Time." It's often an excuse that we humans use to make ourselves feel good about disobeying God in doing what He calls us to do. It's so easy to put things off till another time or until "I've had time to think about it." DO IT NOW! If you feel your list is too long and overwhelmed, go back to step 1. You may be doing many things that are not priorities for you and your ministry
6. Plan your leisure time. Make plans to relax, exercise, go shopping, or do whatever you like. For me, it's painting. It's been my passion all my life. It allows me to refresh and pray while also allowing me to complete something. Ministry is never-ending, so I prefer having something I can stand back, admire, and claim that I finished. And most likely, you are teaching your people the Biblical principle of rest, so lead the way! If you're not careful, your work can easily consume you.
7. Keep asking yourself the same question: "Is what I'm doing now bringing us closer to where God wants us to be?" If you get a "no," change your approach. The Church should be leading the charge in innovation for the Kingdom of God to grow. We are doing the work of His Kingdom, and He wants it to spread to every individual. Don't be scared to embrace progress. We all know that the most deadly words of any ministry are "we've never done it like this before." What if we began prayerfully inviting God, "How would You have us do ministry in a way that we've never done it before to reach people and disciple them?" That's what inspired me to think about One Voice. I was fed up with seeing the next generation abandon their faith as followers of Jesus. During a moment of prayerful honesty, I noticed that how we presently operated wasn't getting us where God wanted us to go. (For more on One Voice, a radical new model for doing Church, click here.) Just as a CEO, president, or business owner plans their day for maximum productivity, so should we, as pastors or ministry leaders. Above all else, make sure that you spend time with Jesus every day and grow in your faith with God. We cannot lead people where we are not going ourselves. God did not call you to ministry to burnout or not have time to be in close fellowship with Him. I love the quote from Martin Luther: "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." That will help you maximize your ministry productivity above all things!