By Alison Zeller
In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, your congregation probably wants to get you a gift. Will you ask for new books or maybe a new tablet? The truth is, money can’t buy what you really want: more time.
From Sunday services to hospital visits to board meetings, pastors are always on the go and always on call. In many churches, this simply goes with the territory—there aren’t other staff members to help out. But even in churches with several staff members, pastors’ to-do lists are always overflowing.
We realize that pastors have graciously answered the call to shepherd God’s flock and we’d never suggest that you knock a few sheep off the to-do list. However, there are time-management tips that could help you nix stress and handle your varied duties more efficiently.
Here are five suggestions that might just give you the elusive gift of time this October.
- Make self-care a top priority.
You cannot take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself. Countless pastors suffer from burnout, and it completely shuts down their ministry. Taking time for yourself will make you more productive when you’re working for others.
Exercising and eating right will give you more energy during the day. Spending quality time with family and friends will bring more joy to your ministry. Working on your hobbies will give you fresh eyes when you come back to ministry problems.
Remember this analogy: if you’re on an airplane and it’s in trouble, you must put on your own oxygen mask first. If you don’t, you won’t be able to help anybody else.
- Get others on board.
If you are looking to become more efficient with your time, invite your staff to join in. Everybody could use more time, right?
Suggest that your ministry holds multiple meetings on the same night. Create a plan that prohibits in-office meetings until after 2 p.m. Set a timer for meetings and hold attendees to it. For brief or impromptu meetings, stand up—sitting people tend to linger.
If your team is ready for it, have an honest meeting and allow individuals to share their opinions regarding overall time management in the ministry. What do they feel is a waste of time? What tasks should be given more time or less time? Brainstorm ways your team could become more efficient and productive overall.
- Utilize CTA’s Free Resources
Yes, you read that right. We offer a variety of FREE ministry resources that you can download anytime, anywhere. Here’s a sampling of what’s available in the Resource & Idea Center.
- Do you need help with a sermon for Sunday services leading up to Easter? Check out our FREE sermon outlines.
- Are you looking for a staff devotion? Download a FREE adult Ministry Message.
- Do you need a way to encourage faith-based conversations at home? Download a FREE family Ministry Message.
- Are you overwhelmed with planning your fall festival? Download a FREE event outline.
- Find a volunteer coordinator.
If your ministry is short-staffed, there may be people in your church who are willing to do their part. This tip could take several tasks that aren’t pastor-specific off your plate. Look to hire a part-time volunteer coordinator, if you can. If your budget won’t allow for that, think about a few strong leaders in your congregation and ask them if they’d be willing to help.
A volunteer coordinator can recruit and delegate volunteers to help where you need them most. Think about a care team that covers non-emergency hospital calls and nursing home visits. Consider using volunteer leaders for topical Bible studies and give them a study to work from. Find a volunteer superintendent to take charge of Sunday school.
- Make technology your friend.
No, this tip does not involve using e-mail and your smartphone constantly. In fact, if you want to free up some time in your day, stop checking your devices. Go to your device’s settings and turn off all notifications. Since researchers say that it takes 25 minutes to refocus after a distraction, this could save you hours in a day!
But don’t get rid of your devices altogether. A few apps and software programs take time management to an entirely new level. To make sermon prep more efficient, check out Logos Bible Software. If your budget won’t allow for that, look into a program like Scrivener or Evernote to store all of your sermon ideas. And, create a ministry schedule and a plan of attack with Todoist, Clear, or Cal.
As you look for ways to improve your time management, try to keep realistic expectations. God called you as a pastor because he knows you can handle it. Even on your most stressful, deadline-filled days, your forgiving Savior walks beside you. With his Spirit leading you, 24 hours in a day is the perfect amount of time.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 ESV
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