Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

This used to be a golfball. My 9 year old Golden Retriever Bailey decided that it looked tasty and he decided to make it a snack. I am not sure how long it took him until he realized that he had made a mistake. A golf ball is obviously not very edible.

Often as church planters we can make the same mistake. There are so many needs and opportunities out there that we can bite off more than we can chew. We can overcommit ourselves and find that we are really busy doing activities that do not help us achieve our calling in life. We find ourselves serving on boards of organizations that take valuable time and energy from our family and church. We find ourselves leading mission trips and local service projects. We end up going to denominational meetings and pastoral networks multiple times a month. All these are great activities and events but may not be the best use of your time. Here are 4 ways to clean up your calendar.

Prioritize

1. Family. You have to put your family first. So many pastors put their church ahead of their family and eventually find themselves in a personal crisis. There is a divorce or a child goes off the deep end. What is the point of ministering to others if you cant lead your own family. God has given you your family to shepherd. Your people are looking to you to model what a Godly family looks like. Many of them have never seen what a godly family looks like and they are taking their cues from you

2. Sermon. Many times tasks are more urgent than your message. However, the most important time in your week in your role as Pastor, is the 45 minutes you spend teaching your people on Sunday mornings. I know that you may not like the pressure of making your message a major element of your ministry but your people see it that way. They want to be taught God’s word and want to grow. If you spend the time every week to study, prepare and practice your message you will always struggle as a church planter. I have found that inspiration in writing a message is not on demand so I have developed a process that allows me to spend time every day on my sermon and have it manuscript by Thursday afternoon. That allows me the mental space to rehearse and ponder my message so both I and the sermon are fresh on Sunday morning.

3. Key Leaders. A mistake we make is that we spend time with whomever demands it from us. You have to make time for your people, that is part of shepherding, but it is vital to prioritize time with your key leaders.  You need to spend time with leaders and develop them into being great servant leaders. If you do this you will find exponential ministry. I recommend discipling a new crop of leaders every 2 years. I meet with promising young leaders in our church once a week for a two year cycle. We study theology and practical spiritual disciplines together. I also once a month keep in touch with key leaders who have graduated from my discipleship program in a morning breakfast. Lastly I spend time with our small group leaders once a semester.

4. New people. New members and attenders are the lifeblood of your church. Often the only person that they feel that they know at church is the pastor. It is important to find ways to meet them, learn their name and invite them to join the vision. We make an effort to do dinner or coffee with new visitors who are choosing to make Green Hills Church their home. This is one of the most encouraging parts of your job. Its exciting to see people ‘get it’ and be excited about what God is doing at your church.

Delegate

1. Hire someone who can help you. This may not happen as soon as you would like it to happen but at some point you need to hire some help. I think everyone works better when they are part of a team. Find someone who believes in you and compliments your strengths. Don’t hire someone just like you. Having different personalities and gifts makes your church stronger.

2. Develop volunteer leaders. If we are going to ensure that the church will withstand the generation change we need to develop leaders. Leaders aren’t just born. All leaders need someone to invest in them and believe in them. Find faithful people and come alongside them. One of my favorite things to seen in ministry is when people realize that serving a church is exciting stuff. That really only happens when they are given real responsibility.

3. Let people help you. This is so hard for me. I want to make sure everything is perfect. It is so important to allow people to help you. It may not be done exactly the way I would  do it but often it is done better.

Fire Yourself 

1.Evaluate appropriate time investment parameters. Examine how much time you are investing. Often we allow time to slip through our fingers. We can spend too much time traveling to and from meetings. Sometimes we meet too long. Sometimes we have meetings that no longer serve their purpose but we still go to them. You have to consistently evaluate what your calendar looks like.

2. Reduce how long you spend in meetings. Often we let our meetings go too long. Plan on having better meetings and finish them on time. Be ruthless about it.

3. Fire yourself. If you are spending too much time on things that are not important then stop doing it. Often I don things I don’t want to do longer than I should because I feel guilty letting something go. Often when I am holding on to something too long I realize I am trying to be the savior of the world. There is only one savior and that is Jesus. So often I have to be content with doing what I can do each day and let things go that I can’t prioritize.