How To Manage Your Time When You Have To Do It All
I’m not qualified to write about all topics in the church world. There are some things that are above my pay grade. But today’s topic is not one of those things.
Quick Bio (If You have no interest skip to the next section)
I’ve never had a position in ministry where I got to solely focus on one area. The closest came in college where I was taking 22 credits a semester to earn a degree in Youth Ministry while working at a church as the youth pastor. Even that came with additional responsibilities as I ended up overseeing our college ministry to a local college.
As a church planter I constantly have to wear multiple hats. At the church I worked at before I planted my title was Director of Community Groups and Students. I oversaw our students (6th – 12th grade) and our adult small groups. What wasn’t in the title was being a part of the programing team, counseling, and preaching when the pastor was out of town. When I started at this position the church was averaging 300 people. When I left the church to plant we were averaging over 3,000.
If there are church positions where a person gets to focus on one and only one area I’ve never experienced it. I don’t know a lot, but I do know the feeling of having to do it all.
Skip To Here (God will bless your children’s children if you read the above paragraphs and didn’t skip straight to here)
How To Manage Your Time When You Have To Do It All
Step 1: Be Honest With Yourself.
Self deception is so difficult to identity because it’s…deceptive.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” Ephesians 4:22
We are all busy…but are we really?
One of the things I learned pretty quickly is that I had potential to work a lot harder than what I thought. I used busyness as an excuse, but the truth is I just stunk at prioritizing what was important.
The thought came to me before I went on vacation. I had to finish all of my work for the upcoming Sunday and then finish all of the work for the following week while I was on vacation.
At first is was daunting. Two weeks of work finished in one week felt impossible!!!
I whined to my wife. I complained to anyone else that would listen. No one showed much sympathy. So I had to get serious and just get stuff done.
It meant I spent less time checking out social media during work hours.
It meant I ate my lunch at my desk a few times to keep working.
It meant I had to decide what was most important.
I finished it all.
When I was focused I was able to get two weeks worth of work done is one work week.
What was the difference? I had a hard deadline.
We often wait until the last minute to complete tasks and thus add pressure to our lives. We take our time unless there is a deadline because we feel we have all the time in the world. Lies!
The truth is that if you find you cannot juggle all that you have to do it is not a capacity problem, it’s a priority problem.When you can't juggle all your work it's not a capacity problem, it's a priority problem. Click To Tweet
That statement might not sit well with you, but do not be too quick to dismiss it.
Being busy is a way of life for Americans. It’s also our go to excuse for why we didn’t get anything productive done.
Everyone is busy and yet some how there is time for Facebook, binge watching Netflix shows, or playing fantasy football.
You make time for what you want to do. The problem is what we want to do isn’t always what we get paid for. So what do we do about that?
Step 2: Define Your Priorities.
When I used to live by the lie of, “I’m really busy” I would often let the most important things slip until the last minute while I put out fires. Specifically my energy would get spent doing a lot of things and so I end up not being the best version of myself when it comes to spending time with my kids.
On weekends I had to get a lot of things done for the family, but it meant more time away from the kids or it meant I was even more exhausted when I did spend time with them.
My kids are a priority.
Once the priority was defined it freed me up to say no to other things. One of those things was the lawn. The lawn took me away for a few hours every other Saturday. My wife and I decided to prioritize my time with my kids, and budget to have someone take care of our lawn.
That statement might get judged by some, but it was a way for me to make sure my kids had my attention, and energy on the weekend. It also meant I had to say no to some extra perks like Starbucks. The money was there it just had to be prioritized.
What does that have to do with working at a church? Great question. Thanks for asking it.
There are things that are your responsibility, but you don’t have to do them.
Someone has to get everything done, but that someone isn’t always you.
In order to get everything done you must prioritize what it is that only you can do. I’m the only dad my kids have. I don’t want to outsource that.
At church, if you don’t prioritize what it is that only you can do you will end up spending lots of time doing lots of things, but will any of it be productive?
“The primary reason we do too much is that we have never taken the time to discover the portion of what we do that makes the biggest difference.” – Andy Stanley
Simply being busy is seen as a badge of honor, but do not confuse busy for productive.
You can be busy not accomplishing much.
Prioritize what it is that only you can do and you’ll start to be productive instead of simply busy. The question is how do you do that?
Step 3: Delegate Your Weaknesses
Once you prioritize what it is that only you can do you will then have a list of things that will need to delegate. After all, the work still has to get done.
You must find people who are strong in areas you are weak in and delegate responsibility to them. That’s not easy. In fact it can be scary at first.
It’s easy to think that no one can accomplish that task as well as you. That’s pride.
It’s also easy to think that no one is available to help. That’s laziness.
It’s easy to think you can’t delegate because you don’t have the money to hire a new staff member. That’s an excuse.
Let me refrain some of those thoughts for you.
If you have a church of 150 people you have the potential of 150 volunteers. If you have a church of 500 that is the potential of 500 volunteers. If you have a church of 2,000…you get the point.
The point is as a church we don’t have customers. We have members. We have people who have joined with us. Sure not all of them are eager to volunteer, but many of them are waiting to be asked.
Andy Stanley says,
“The people who follow us are exactly where we have led them. If there is no one to whom we can delegate, it is our own fault.”
If something needs to get done then it’s your responsibility to see it gets done. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it.
I have mowed my grass once in two years.
It rained on the day it was supposed to get cut so the company wasn’t able to come. We had company coming and my yard started to look like a Brazilian rain forest. I had to make sure it was done. But I’ll take once in two years. The other weeks the grass was still mowed, but I didn’t do the work.
At my church we currently have volunteers who give time at our office every single week. We have multiple volunteers who are at the church once, twice, or even four times a week.
The work has to get done. And someone loves to do what you hate.
Delegate it. Invest in them. Thank them. Empower them. And then go do what only you can do.
Questions for reflection:
- What is it that only you can do at your church?
- Who do you know that you could delegate to?
- What unproductive things steal your time?