outside the box
The bulk of what I am about to share came about because of a catastrophic event that happened while I was in leadership. May 2009 was the craziest ministry month of my life! I found out that the founding lead pastor of the church I was high school pastor at was resigning due to a moral failure. That meant that my responsibilities increased pretty much overnight to help the church survive the blow. Thankfully I was already registered for my summer seminary class so I couldn’t back out and that proved to be a huge blessing! That summer one of my profs took some extra time to spend with me and helped me learn how to effectively manage my time in this season of craziness.
Since then I have made some tweaks to how I make the most of my time, but I do my best to schedule all my time to make sure that I am accomplishing what I want to do with my life (and what I feel God has called me to do). If you need some help with your calendar can I encourage you to follow these steps.
START WITH FAMILY TIME
When I first started planning out my calendar I would put in my weekly work duties, school requirements, and pretty much everything else that I thought was super important. That worked for about six months until my wife said: “Where is there time for me?” That rocked me and revealed to me that I had selfishly been forgetting about my family while trying to keep the church alive and finish seminary. Now that we have been doing this for over three years, I start out my week with planning family time. This includes having a weekly date with my wife, taking my kids on a date, and making sure to block out some big chunks of my week for family time.
FIND SOME PERSONAL TIME
In his book As For Me and My Crazy House Brian Berry talks about how important it is for you to be a healthy leader by slotting some “Me” time. This could be going fishing for a few hours on your day off, getting a coffee one morning, or hitting the gym a few nights in the week. This is vital to your personal health, so make sure when you plan your week out you get some time in there doing some things that are going to make you happy and healthy. There is a unique balance in this part of calendaring; I have learned that there are weeks I can get more time for myself and there are weeks that I have to fight for it (be prepared).
When you’re planning out your schedule make sure that you look ahead a few months to know what’s coming your way. Put big things on the calendar way ahead of time so you can make sure you are ready for them when the time comes! If you have a missions trip coming up and need to schedule some team meetings, this is the place to do that! Our Community Life pastor just emailed me with the dates for our Men’s Retreat in February, and I immediately put that on my calendar. When you think ahead it shows the people you are working with that you care about them and value your time.
My wife and I love to vacation! This means that when we are doing our calendar we are looking for a place to put a getaway in there. Now this doesn’t always happen, and its not always Hawaii (though I wish it was), but it could be thinking ahead to visit your family who lives a few hours away. Thinking ahead also gets your mind out of the weekly grind to accomplish your dreams!
PLAN OUT YOUR WEEK
This can be the more difficult part of making the most of your time but this is a very important piece. If you know that you are preaching this Sunday in Big Church, then you need to carve out some big chunks of time to message prep. Maybe you have some reoccurring weekly meetings that you need to prep for or you would like to get lunch with a key leader—this is the time to do that. Figure out what needs to be done this week and put it on the calendar; then when you get a reminder about it you know its time to start working on it.
Also, when you do this, leave some margin. Leave some room between meetings so you aren’t rushing from one meeting to the next. Leave some margin so if a parent calls and wants to talk, you have the freedom to make that happen. Leave some room so you can meet with an intern or catch up with a fellow staff member at the water cooler.
The way that this works best for me is to sit down on the couch on Sunday night for about an hour with my computer open. I make sure that Charity and I get some time to talk through our week; then we talk through the month, and finally I fill in my work week. If you choose to start doing something like this give yourself some grace as you figure what works best for you.