The Student Ministry Stuff (SMS) blog has been received well, I really have appreciated the encouraging words over the last couple months. I’m pleased that the Lord has used these to bless youth leaders, parents and students since I began this weekly post.
Last week, in the first part of this SMS post, I tackled the subject of being “busy” from what I would call an analytical view (some place the emphasis on the first part of that word)… If you didn’t read that post, you may want to do that by clicking here.
This week, I want to take on this same subject but for those who are little bit more of the free-thinking bent, perhaps an abstract-random and maybe even a little ADD. The bottom-line, some people reject a disciplined “charts and graphs” scheduled lifestyle. As I created the “chart” last week I knew that there would be many who would not resonate with the ideas presented. Well, I hope this week I can help you with some different ideas that will help create space while still getting the things done that need to get done. Keeping in mind the presenting problem… we’re trying to please all (if not most) of the people all (if not most) of the time. Ultimately we know our call is to please God, but for some reason there just seems to be a high demand from people and we struggle with the idea of getting everything done that needs to get done. It shouldn’t be just about keeping people pleased or “at bay,” but about excelling in our strengths and influencing the Kingdom and His children.
As we begin, know that you don’t have to choose between being a charts and graph scheduled pastor or an abstract random leader. My guess is that most of us are a little bit of both. My hope becomes that either or both of these posts can help you become more efficient in your position.
Because there are many daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly demands it is easy to get buried in the just keeping up mode. Feeling like you may sink and drown is not a pleasant feeling. Missed appointments, unfinished tasks and last-minute prep can easily become the norm. Well, here are a few simple suggestions (some may call the simplified systems) that may help.
- First 15. I believe I’ve written about this in some other SMS blog post, but it’s a pretty simple principle to adopt. In the first 15 minutes in the office (whether thats at a home office, coffee shop or your physical church office) set aside the first 15 minutes (or get to work 15 minutes earlier than normal) and set up your day. This way you’re not so systematic that your every day is scheduled in advance, but your every day is in fact scheduled that day. By way of example, lets say on a Tuesday morning I arrived at 8:45am knowing I had staff at 9:00am I would think through my day and the apparent pressures. Let’s say these were my feelings: I’m feeling like I’m way behind on my camp talks for this weekend. I need to have a parent gathering soon, maybe sometime in the next month. I haven’t started my prep for the games on Wednesday night and I have about six emails sitting in my inbox that probably will require 30-45 minutes. In the first 15 minutes of my day, rather than doing work on ANY of these things I set up a block schedule (whether written down or just in my mind). 9-11 Staff; 11-1 emails and lunch; 1-3 camp talks and 3-4 games and other youth group prep and 4-5 camp talks again. Tomorrow, the stuff that didn’t get done will probably feel like a little more of a priority and the first 15 will held dictate my next day.
- iText (or iEmail). When my wife wants to remind me of something she’d like for me to pick up at the grocery store she simply will email me or text it. That way, I have a written record of the thing I need to buy. Well, I’ve started to do this to myself. iText or iEmail is the practice of communicating to myself. So, as I have the thought “I need to email Bill, Joe and Sam” but don’t have the time to do that right now, I will text/email that to myself. I then have a written reminder of a task I need to complete. Personally I have found email to be the better choice for me. Even at night, when sort-of mentally debriefing my day or clearing out messages I’ll come across that email and be reminded of those things that I need to do right then or prioritize for tomorrow. Sometimes a second email is sent so that it needs to be read the next morning upon arrival. This “new school” to-do list gives me a feeling of satisfaction when I can delete the email because the task is completed (feels better than crossing off a list)!
- Seasonal Scheduling. Go ahead, rebel against your own system! Some of you need charts and graphs for short seasons. So, using the concept from last week, set up for yourself a graph, knowing that for this season you’ll feel good about it. But because you’re a natural rebel or not THAT self-disciplined I’d suggest you stick to the chart for as long as you can and when you see that it isn’t working, mix it up, change your hours, change the days you normally would do a task, etc. In essence, be in the state of constant change. However, I do suggest that through all of this, communicate well. Nothing worse than an Admin, a Pastor or a Spouse thinking you’re doing one thing while you completely changed things up but didn’t tell them!
- Network Accountability and/or Mentor. If you’re a part of a network or have someone who can hold you accountable, I’d suggest you set up the communication with a person (in or out of your church) where the accountability partner can pray for you and hold you to the list of things you want to get done that next week. This person may prove to not only be a pray partner, but someone who mentors you through the priority list for the week (or month). Be warned, vulnerability might lead to some self-discovery and less of that Pied-Piper, “I can do it on my own” mentality (Praise God!).
Rather than being more verbose, I’d just say that this blog may be meant to whet your appetite on the subject. I can explore/explain deeper if you’d like to engage any one of these more!
Know you’re not alone! There are many who want to support you and help, it sometimes just doesn’t feel this way. Praying for all you out there. I hope I can help meet some practical needs!