Take Back Your Schedule
Do you ever feel like there is too much to do and not enough time? Do you spend time doing things you have to do and thus putting off what you love to do? Are you working in your sweet spot?
It’s easy to allow our schedules to get hijacked. People are needy and their needs, in their minds, always outweigh your schedule. As pastors it can be difficult to say no because we care about people.
The two biggest areas that I see pastors struggle with their schedule is family time and sermon prep. Way too many pastors feel forced to prioritize the needs of the people over time with the family. I also know way too many pastors who work an entire week and do not get much time in their sermon. They end working late Saturday night to write, memorize, and finish the sermon. Is there a better way?
It is simple, but many pastors refuse to do it.
It has changed my schedule and helped me balance things even during hectic seasons.
Here is the key to taking back your schedule. Write everyting down in your calendar.
If you don’t schedule your time you’ll lose track of where it went.If you don't schedule your time you'll lose track of where it went. Click To Tweet
It may seem too simple or even annoying, but I can tell you from personal experience it’s a game changer.
For example, I schedule family time. When someone else’s world is falling a part I let them know when I have time. I don’t overexploit what I’m doing. I don’t apologize. I simply say, “I have a meeting scheduled now, and I can meet with you (insert date and time here).
I schedule dentist appointments, the gym, and sermon prep. I’m not available on Thursdays from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM because I’m writing the sermon. I also schedule premarital counseling. This is the one I’ve received the most pushback on.
I only do premarital counseling on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. If a person wants me to marry them I require four sessions of premarital counseling. If they aren’t able to make that work I’ll recommend another pastor. I don’t apologize for this. My family is too important. They can always find another pastor to marry them. My kids cannot find another dad to parent them. Most people understand, but there are a few who push back and say, “I work and can’t make those times.” I ask them to treat this like a doctors appointment. My office hours are 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. I’ll meet over lunch, we can use FaceTime or Skype, and in some circumstances I’ll even come to them. What I won’t do is give up my family time.
That may sound harsh, but I do not apologize for this. If I want a lawyer or doctor I cannot demand that they meet me at all hours of the day. I can choose to use another doctor or lawyer if the one I want isn’t available, but I don’t get to dictate their schedule. Why is it any different for a pastor?
Most people are okay with hearing, “I have a meeting and I’m not available, but I can schedule some time on (fill in the date) _________.
What people don’t understand is our reasons why or explanations. I don’t explain what the meeting is for. I simply let them know I’m not available. The gym is a meeting. My family time is a meeting. When it’s on the calendar I can say no without feeling bad about it. Most of the time it’s not a hard no, but more of a we can meet at a later date.
As pastors we have to protect our schedules or no one else will. If you do not tell your time where to go you will not know where your time went.