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exhaustion1My friend told me many years ago, “If you are going to last, you can’t keep working like this.”

I was a young preacher.  I had just told my new friend some details about my typical work week.  I had no sense of boundaries or priorities.  Consequently, my days were typically spent with far too much activity and too little reflection on the value of these activities.

My friend had served congregations for many years.  He was ten years older than me and had given much thought about his use of time in his own ministry.

Consequently, I made some changes in the way I used my time in my work.  I also learned much about the way I had been using my time.

Perhaps you will find these helpful.

1.  Every “yes” is a “no” to something else.  Some people say “yes” to almost every request they receive.   Yet time is a limited resource.  Consequently, I can be busy fulfilling the requests of a few people, while I ignore the message preparation that will impact hundreds of people on Sunday morning.  I learned to think through the implications of saying “yes” to far too many requests.

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broken-clockSome ministers abuse time.

I admire those who serve in a full-time ministry role with a church.  I did so for many years.  In fact, I deeply respect these people.

Yet this ministry is a role that can be dangerous to one’s soul and integrity.  The danger that I have in mind relates to time.

Most ministers I know work hard – very hard.  They understand that their work is a calling, not a career. Consequently, they do the work of ministry without watching the clock or thinking about overtime.

Years ago, I interviewed with a fine church.  Apparently this church had questioned the work ethic of one of its ministers.  I asked the search committee what the minister said when confronted with this problem.  They said that no one, including the elders, had ever talked with him about his behavior.

Instead they made rules to somehow control this and the other ministers’ behavior.

  • Ministers must work at least a 40-hour week.
  • Ministers may not go to the store between the hours of 8AM and 5PM.
  • Ministers may not leave the church building between the same hours unless it is for tasks related to their job descriptions.

I then asked, “Why doesn’t someone just talk with the problem minister?”

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I read a very good article in The Wall Street Journal entitled “The Peak Time for Everything.” Basically, the article explores the importance of matching the tasks you need to do with the energy level of your body.  The author suggests times of the day that may be better suited for a particular task given where the energy level of the body normally is at that point.  For example, the author suggests that when it comes to doing cognitive work most adults tend to perform better later in the morning.

I have found the following practices to be helpful as I attempt to manage my time:

1.  My best study is done very early in the morning.  I often awaken early and get much reading and preparation done before I ever go into the office.

2.  One of the first things I do upon getting to the office is form my to-do list.  I may add several new items to what was unfinished from the day before or the list may be totally new.

3.  I write on a large white board in my office a few items that I refer to as “blocks.”   That is, I intend to spend a block of time working on a particular project.  For example, I may be thinking about a meeting or a talk I am to give in a month or two.  I might choose to spend a 30-minute block of time working on this item.  (Otherwise, what is pressing or seemingly immediate will usually consume my time.)

4.  I typically write most e-mails and make most phone calls in the afternoon when my energy is lower.  In fact, I save tasks that require less energy or creativity for the afternoon.

5.  Each day, I want to do something that adds energy to my life.  Typically I go to the gym four days a week in the late afternoon to work out.  This practice makes a huge difference in my energy level.  Also, I am energized by reading, visiting with friends on the phone, and enjoying conversation (normally by phone) with family members.

Questions:

What are some of your daily practices that impact the flow of your day?

 

Learn to Get Intentional About Time

We all begin the week in much the same way.  We have 7 days this week.  Each day has 24 hours.  Whether you are sitting in front of a computer all day, teaching first graders, or traveling across the country for meetings this week, each day has the same number of hours.  Regardless, you have 7 days, 24 hours per day.

We begin a new week.  Perhaps you create your own schedule.  Or, perhaps another creates the schedule for you (perhaps you are scheduled to come in to work at 8:00 AM and leave at 5:00 PM).   Regardless, you have 7 days, 24 hours per day.

We don’t have time to waste.  Time used is gone.  No more.  Past tense.

Given these realities, it would do us well to think about how we use our time.  Maybe there are some things you just don’t have time for.  Here are a few of mine:

1.  I don’t have time to waste on things that don’t matter….I have plenty of time for the things that count.

2.  I don’t have time to get moody, self-centered, and irritable….I do have time to love my wife and children.

3.  I don’t have time to wallow in the past at what might have
been….I do have time to focus on what God wants to do in my life
today.

4.  I don’t have time to play self-importance games (Who do you
know?  What kind of house do you live in? What have your kids
accomplished? What are you driving?)….I do have time to build up
others and forget myself.

5.  I don’t have time to coddle worldly, immature Christians whose idea
of church is getting their way….I have plenty of time to love fellow
Christians who may have various opinions.

6.  I don’t have time to be a peace-monger (doing whatever it takes to keep others from getting upset)….I do have time to be a peacemaker (loving people no matter what).

7.  I don’t have time to play it safe.  My life will soon be
over….I do have time to risk.  I can trust God who has promised to
never leave me or forsake me.

8.  I don’t have time to whine and blame others for being
obstacles….I do have time to take responsibility for my own actions
and behavior.

9.  I don’t have time to complain and focus on the negative….I do
have time to speak a word of hope to people who are overwhelmed by
heartache.

10. I don’t have time to settle for the mediocre….I do have time to be passionate about what matters most to God.

 

Suggestion

This week choose to put into your calendar some task or action that really matters.  If you are not in the habit of doing this, try intentionally putting such tasks into your calendar or schedule at least several days of the week.

 

Questions

What do you not have time for this week?  What do you intend to make time for?


Just Enough Time for What Matters

facebookI have been on Facebook for about a year.  What I absolutely love about Facebook is the opportunity to re-connect with friends from the past.  In the past few months, I have had the opportunity to communicate with Frank, Gary, Debbie, John, Bob, Debbie, Rick, and today — Stan.  I haven’t seen most of these people in decades.  Yet, re-connecting with these people is a special gift because we share a common history and a common memory.  We were a part of a small Christian school in Dallas.

I have been thinking this week about how short life really is.  When I was in junior high school, some days would seem like weeks.  In some ways, time passes so slowly when you are young.  Now?  Now time moves quickly.  Oh, I don’t feel old or even refer to myself as being old.  Yet, I remember passing a mirror not long ago almost startled by the man staring at me.  Yes, it was me inside this man’s body.  But inside?  "I’m still the boy." 

Today, I realize just how valuable time really is.

1.  I don’t have time to waste on things that don’t matter.  I have plenty of time for the things that count.

2.  I don’t have time to get moody, self-centered, and irritable.  I do have time to love my wife and children.

3.  I don’t have time to wallow in the past over what might have
been.  I do have time to focus on what God wants to do in my life today.

4.  I don’t have time to play self-importance games (Whom do you
know?  What kind of house do you live in?  What have your kids
accomplished?  What are you driving?).  I do have time to build up others
and forget myself.

5.  I don’t have time to coddle worldly, immature Christians whose idea
of church is getting their way.  I have plenty of time to love fellow
Christians who may have various opinions.

6.  I don’t have time to be a peacemonger (doing whatever it takes to keep others from getting upset).  I do have time to be a peacemaker (loving people no matter what).

7.  I don’t have time to play it safe and never risk the possibility of discomfort.  I
do have time to trust God who has promised to never leave
me or forsake me.

8.  I don’t have time to whine and blame others for being
obstacles.  I do have time to take responsibility for my own actions and
behavior.

9.  I don’t have time to complain and focus on the negative.  I do
have time to speak a word of hope to people who are overwhelmed by
heartache.

10. I don’t have time to settle for the mediocre.  I do have time to be passionate about what matters most to God.

I would love to hear your response to this.  Is this a familiar theme in your own life?