TIME: A Tool for Ministry Expansion or a Source of Growth Distraction?

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Leaders seeking to lead thriving ministries commonly express struggle in one of three critical ministry growth factors: time, team, or financial resources. There’s never enough time to complete all that needs to be done. Rarely are the skills of the staff sufficient for the task at hand. And money? I can write pages on the gaping hole between ministry vision and financial provision. The truth is, we have more than we think in each of these ministry growth areas but realizing it requires a shift in perspective.

Believe it or not, an effective use of time should be the number one priority of a Pastor who desires to grow a healthy church, as well as a CEO who seeks to build a profitable business. Those leading successful ministries today know intentional focus of one’s time is no longer optional. When positioning for growth, it’s imperative leaders view time as an asset to be wisely invested. With distractions looming at every click of the mouse or beep of a mobile device, how does a leader manage the ministry growth factor of time? Four steps are clear.

  1. Set clear ministry growth goals. Lack of ministry growth goals is the quickest way to give up control of your time. The vagueness of your ministry growth goals welcomes an onslaught of distractions. Leaders who fail to clearly define daily what they’re time will be used for shouldn’t be surprised when daily time “runs out”.
  2. Focus on tasks that position for growth –Pastors of growing churches do things that lead to growth. Sermon prep is good, but it’s not enough. Along with an intense focus on personal growth, spiritual growth, and team training, leaders must be intimately be involved in the implementation of specific ministry growth strategies. The number of Pastors who don’t have a church growth strategy or know what one looks like surprises me. This is a problem and must be addressed. Rarely do ministries grow without a plan for growth.
  3. Track your time daily – Paying relentless attention to what consumes your time is the only way to ensure you are placing the necessary value on this vital ministry growth factor. A popular practice of leaders of growing organizations is to plan the day BEFORE it starts and review the day as it concludes. There are tons of time management systems with equally as many time management philosophies. I have found the simpler the system the more likely it is to be implemented. A great start to tracking your time is to follow this simple time tracking system:
    • Plan - The evening before your ministry work day take 30 minutes to create a plan for the day. This plan can be as simple as a list of tasks you’d like to complete oras detailed as an hour-by-hour breakdown of your ministry work day.
    • Review -At the conclusion of your work day, review your plan by identifying what was completed, left incomplete and never started. For the growth-focused leader, identify which of the tasks listed when completewill lead you closer to your growth goals. Which are total unrelated?
    • Plan again – Draft the next day’s plan.
  4. Beware of time thieves –Busyness has many leaders deceived into believing they’re productive. Our level of exhaustion at the day’s end often is our measure of “effective ministry”. Exhaustion often follows invasion, by what I like to refer to as “time thieves”. “Time thieves” are situations that distract your focus from matters most. What distinguishes a “time thief” from an ordinary distraction is it sneaks upon the leader unaware. Masked as a “good idea”, “this will only take a quick second” or my favorite “I need your opinion”, time thieves have no intention of bringing harm but upon their departure one often feels robbed. Good intentions are the biggest thieves of a compassionate leader’s time. I am not suggesting isolation. But, if your desire is to grow your ministry you must be relentless about creating an environment fit for expansion.

    Prioritizing your time is a great way to ensure your ministry growth is not an afterthought. By investing dailyin activities designed to foster growth you position yourself and your ministry for expansion. For this month’s Expansion in Action assignment I would like for you to prioritize your time. Here’s three ways to gain control of your time so you can maximize your ministry’s reach:

  1. Make a list of all the tasks you perform in a typical week. Be specific.
  2. Identify activities that do not expose new people to your mission. Prepare to eliminate or delay them.
  3. Schedule 2 hours each day during which you focus on activities specific lead to ministry growth.

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