I have earth-shattering news; Life is busy!
The life of a minister is no exception, whether you are full-time, or full-time work but part-time pay, or an excellent volunteer (which is free labor) a minister’s life is busy. There are meetings to attend, bible studies to plan for, games to visit, and weekly services. If you are like me, when you look at your calendar, there is not a lot of downtime in a typical week.
The question that must be asked then is this, does your busyness in life have a purpose? Before we can answer that though, we must ask the question, is busyness our purpose? I think this is a little more difficult to explain, even though I know we would all quickly answer no to this question. We would all say no, of course, our purpose is not to be busy, but if someone were to look at our calendars, would they agree with us?
If we are not careful, the busyness of ministry will come in and steal the joy we find in a department. We must be on guard and recognize when our busyness has become our purpose. First, we must actively battle against the busyness of life, noticing when our calendars have overtaken our life. Second, we must avoid those activities that steal our day. It is essential to stay focused, and not allow “time sucks” to come in and overtake our day. Finally, we must actively seek to create space in our lives so that we can function in a way that brings glory to God and keeps us fresh.
The Battle Against Busyness
The battle that we, as youth ministers face, is getting so busy that we neglect our time with God and our time with family. We can be doing good things, godly things, but entirely miss what God is waiting for us and from us.
Seek to put space in your life so that you can be what God has called you to be and so you can reach who God has called you to serve. Dave Ramsey teaches that you create a budget so that you can tell your money where to go, and creating space in your life does the same thing with your time and your calendar. If you are not careful, your schedule will dictate your life, rather than you dictate your schedule. How do you do that, how do you battle against busyness?
First, have a plan. I try to keep my To Do List in front of me during the day, that way I stay focused on what needs to be completed that day. When a task is finished, checked it off, put a line through it, or cut it off your list and throw it into the fire, never to be seen again.
Do something so that you can see a tangible thing that shows you accomplishing something throughout the day. Being able to mark something off my list makes me feel productive, which motivates me to work harder.
Second, get up and move around at least once an hour. Maybe that means you get up and walk to the sanctuary, or you walk over to your youth building/room/space, or perhaps you get up and walk around your desk. Whatever you do, move a little every hour, we live very sedentary lifestyles, more movement helps clear our heads, helping us stay on task, and accomplish more for His glory.
My watch tells me when it’s time to stand up and move around, to take a little time, clear my head, and get a change of scenery.
Do what only you can do.
Teach yourself how to prioritize your day. Make sure that you are doing what you can do. What that means is, make sure that your accomplishing things that no one can accomplish. If someone else can do it, let them.
Delegation is a tricky thing though, allowing someone else to take on some of your responsibilities is not easy, it takes trusting their abilities to not only do the task but complete it in a way that you approve.
This is an area where I struggle. It’s a whole lot easier for me to do a task rather than trust someone else to do it. Ephesians 4:12 tells us that we are to: “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,”(ESV). By delegating, we are building up the body and accomplishing the task that God has called us to complete.
Next, Aggressively Avoid Those Things That Steal Your Day
Be cognizant of those things that suck your time away. I don’t need to make a list, because as you read this, you are thinking of things that routinely take up more of your day than they should.
I know for me, I’ll pick up my cell phone to do something meaningful, but then, I’ll notice those numbers out by one of the apps on my phone like Facebook. Now, I hate seeing those little numbers out by the apps, telling me that I have notifications, so I quickly go and take care of checking on those notifications. All of a sudden, 45 minutes will have passed by, and I won’t remember why I picked up my phone in the first place. I know this is a struggle for me, so if I need to focus, I put my phone away, where I can’t see it because I know that it’s a time suck that I don’t want to deal with. It may not be your phone; it may be checking emails or updating your news feed, or anything else that steals your time away from the productive effort. Recognize what that is, and take action against it.
Finally, You Must Intentionally Create Space
Actively seek to set aside time in your day to be with God. Guard this time like a pitbull on a steak, be relentless in protecting it. I prefer to spend time early in the morning, not because I’m a morning person, which I’m not, but because it gets me going in the morning. No one else in my house is an early riser, so I have about 30 minutes of “space” every morning before my day gets going. Whatever time works for you, set it aside and do it. If you don’t, it will never happen, because the busyness of life will take over and your calendar will control you unless you master it.
The life of a pastor is not going to slow down, but when you implement these simple steps into your daily routine, you can move from being busy to being productive. Because, when you get down to it, you want to be as useful as possible for God’s glory. It’s then and only then that our busyness has a purpose. Continue to pursue Him, make Him known, and reach this next generation for the glory of God.
Praying for Georgia Students and I hope to see you at Go Georgia in August!
Central Baptist Church