Whether you’re the senior pastor of a mega-church in Minnesota or a pastoral intern at a rural congregation in West Virginia, you have 168 hours each week at your personal discretion. How you spend those hours makes all the difference.
Here are some tips from “The Lutheran Handbook for Pastors” that can help all church workers, not only pastors, from volunteers to paid staff.
Identify how you spend your time
Keep a ministry activity log for one week and then decide which tasks can be delegated to a staff member, an administrative assistant or a ministry team.
Make a list of everything you need to do in the next day, week and month
Realistically determine the amount of time each task will take, including transportation time and preparation. Differentiate between fixed commitments and flexible commitments, and assign appropriate priorities as you schedule your time. If your congregation council establishes annual goals, those goals should guide your priorities.
Set future priorities
Beyond the next month, carefully consider which tasks simply cannot wait and those that may be optional. Create a list of priorities that includes how much time you’ll spend on each item. Prioritize the tasks in order of importance and urgency. Set personal boundaries and decide what you can and cannot do.
Avoid perfectionism — it leads to burnout
Set realistic goals and strive to do what you do with excellence, but decide which tasks need less than perfection.
Conquer the clutter
Change habits that lead to messes and disorganization. Be aware of how your time is spent most effectively.
And don’t forget to:
- Say “no” to requests for your time if they only add extra stress to your life without moving you or your ministry forward. You simply can’t do everything you’d like to do. Talk with trusted mentors to find out how they manage their time and what they say “no” to.
- Get adequate sleep. The more demands you make on yourself, the more sleep you need.
“The Lutheran Handbook for Pastors,” edited by Kristofer Skrade, is available from Augsburg Fortress.