I know that there has to be a minister out there that structures the week by the hour. Someone must do this. But for me, it is never this simple. Most days I have a plan, every week I have a list of tasks, and most times it changes through the week. There are meetings, new tasks, and new ideas. There are those who take a certain day off, I try Saturday, and sometimes Friday works, but mostly it does not. So how does a preacher manage his time? I believe this is the difference between a successful minister and a minister going through the motions.
1. Start your day off at the same time each day. If it is 4:30am, do it every day. If it is 10:00am, be consistent.
2. Always have a list of tasks in front of you. There are times I wonder, I think I am done, there is nothing else, and then I look at the list and there are 5 more items. Never allow yourself to waste time wondering. A list of tasks is sometimes better than a chart of timetables for the tasks. Ministry changes too much for this to work, and will add frustration to your day.
3. Say No. You cannot do everything, so do not try. You will burn yourself out, and make everyone hate you anyway.
4. Know what comes first. I always try to stop for people. People come first for me. Of course the sermon has to wait, but the people will always appreciate it. But going with the no, sometimes you cannot go to lunch again. Stick to the task, why are you doing this with that person?
5. Yes, there is a pecking order. My elders come first in church work. Of course family does first in my life, but if the elders want something, need something or just want to hang out with me, this is the first priority in my church relationships. If this relationship goes bad, everything else does too. Managing your relationships is a must. Do not spend all of your time with the big talkers. These people are good to hear some, but you need to invest in those who are investing in Christ and his church. This skill is probably the second most important.
6. Know what to cut on. It is like a graduate class, sorry but not every commentary should be read equally. Know what tasks are most important. Here is a quick run down. Sunday Morning Sermon, Sermon Evening Sermon, Sunday morning class, and Wednesday night class. Bulletin, Powerpoints, articles. Never spend three hundreds on the Powerpoint and one on the sermon material. Do know where you are judged, and this is for each congregation. At Waynesboro, I was judged to be well involved in the community by attending the football games. If this is the pecking order, follow the churches.
7. Plan free time. Yes, go have some fun when you can. There will be weeks of 70 hours and some weeks of 35, do not make a 35 week into a 65 because you will need the downtime.
Managing your duties and tasks in a highly open environment will determine your success in ministry. Learn these lessons, and you will love it.
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