Time Management: I Need Eight Days a Week!

That’s the cry of every leader. If you are anything like me, we will wrestle with how to accomplish the most in a day’s work. What does God deems most important for me on a daily basis? Am I able to accomplish what will give the most benefit?

The Next Step

In my devotions recently, I came across the deliberation Paul was having with Jewish conservatives demanding that his new converts be circumcised. After lengthy debates, Paul states:

Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts” (1 Cor. 7:19).

Paul was tired of the minutia and missing the main point. It was not a medical procedure that gave us favor. It is keeping God’s commands. That is the bottom line. Obeying His laws and staying true to what is righteous and biblical. That is where it all starts … or ends.

But here is where my wrestling begins.

My struggle is not with obeying God or following His laws. I don’t struggle with disciplining myself to stay away from nightclubs, porn sites, or drugs. I love God and love His Word. I sit daily in His presence the first thing every morning and enjoy it immensely.

My issue is the step beyond this… Discerning and capturing His assignment for me for today. It is discovering my “current mission” from the myriad of possibilities available and accomplishing that mission.

There are so many things we can do for the Kingdom, and they’re all wonderful! There’s always more! More people to win for Christ, more leaders to train, more energy given to more creative ways to share the Gospel. It can be a 24/7 endeavor.

I know there are only a few things that are necessary. After I have spent time at His feet listening to His Word (like Mary did in Luke 10), now what?

How do you still the storm?

Here’s an example of my “today.”

  • I am taking my wife Anna to Lanai, the island just off Molokai for two days. I know I need to give her time, and do what would fill her tank. But in the middle of that, I have some pod-casts to write and record, two messages to prepare for next week’s speaking, research for the messages that beg to be done, and exercise… Oh yes, I am in a season of losing ten pounds and reducing my body fat.
  • Oh I forgot; we have a Practicum coming up this week with a busload of pastors coming from the mainland to spend a week shadowing me so I can share secrets to successful ministry. (I guess I’d better figure out what those secrets are by Thursday!)
  • I have a Bible College class to teach, staff re-structuring to map out, a book display I am designing for my resources, and an afternoon of filming vod-casts. The Program Director has been needling me for the synopses of the next three months of what I will be speaking about each weekend, and did I mention that I need to finish writing the Christmas play for our holiday services. To throw a wrench or two into the mix, I have a key staff person who wants to leave, another who is having marriage problems, and a dentist’s appointment for a cracked tooth. (I’m really looking forward to that).
  • Oops, I also have a book to write… no, two. Add to this a revision of the former book I had written “Gem’s Along the Way” that would be nice to have in hand by Christmas.

“Lord, could You add a few hours to each day? I know You made the sun go backwards in Joshua’s day. Can You do that for me every day? How about eight days a week, then I won’t bother you for a few months?”

Where do I begin?

I know God’s character. He is loving and understanding. He would never give me more than I can handle… or would He? I have heard people say that God ALWAYS gives me YOU more than you are able so you have to depend on His strength!

OK. So, which is which?

I can hear others say, “Just don’t do all that begs to be done. You can just do so much! So just do what you can and don’t worry about the rest!

Sounds nice and holy to them, but disastrous to me! Which ones do I cut out? Maybe I won’t write the books. Let the publishers wait and let my gut cringe from not fulfilling my gifts. What if I don’t prepare for the weekend messages? Perhaps I shouldn’t preach or should I not train leaders? Or what if I cancel my trip to Lanai with my wife? (That would be suicide!)

It’s awfully easy for others to be the Bildads or an Eliphaz of the Old Testament character, Job. We all have the capacity to be sorry counselors that minimize things that are not important to us personally. Our counsel sound so spiritual, and it is for those who don’t feel strongly about the responsibilities God assigns.

So what’s the answer?

Not sure, but what I do know is that I have tons to do, and I have to get going. I can commiserate till the cows come home (an old farm saying), but that only leaves hungry cows and depressed farmers.

Taking The Reins and Leading … Again

Several years ago, I went through a cave in. My soul began to shrink and my energy stalled. For the last three years, I have been assessing the damage and retrofitting my life so as to avoid this common pitfall to leaders.

I came to understand that one of the causes was the suppressing of my gifts. Besides leadership, one of my top motivators is evangelism. If I am not able to see people come to Christ, I am bothered. For the past few years, our seating capacity at our weekend services has been on maximum capacity. If I did a crusade and five hundred came to Christ, we’d have no place for them to sit. After several tries and seeing our follow-up flag, I felt defeated. I receded backwards to managing the church rather than leading it.

When a leader becomes a manager, his soul begins to erode.

We need managers, but here is the difference: Managers solve the problems of today. Leaders solve the problems of tomorrow.

Four Principles

It’s time to get down to business. Here are four principles that guarantee higher rates of success:

In order to succeed, you need to:

  1. Organize. Yes organize what needs to be done. Get the “lay of the land.” Take an hour or two to sit, think, check calendars to systematize, put in order, arrange, clarify, sort out, and whatever other adjective you can come up with to gain an accurate view of what is on your plate and what is not. Take time for solitude. If you do not, the lack of solitude become the need for isolation. They are not the same. Revisit your assignment and calling to know what is your responsibility and what is not. There is a large difference between what might be your concern and what is your responsibility. Don’t confuse what your concern is and what your responsibility is.
  2. Delegate. Build a team to help. Who is it that will be able to give you back “time?” Certain tasks will require more time than others. An example is research. Delegate that out. Another may be getting the facts in presentable order… PowerPoint slides, reports, graphs: delegate them. Call people who have these gifts and would be happy to help. Your goal is to “Get these assignments accomplished.” It is not necessarily to “accomplish them yourself!”
  3. Prioritize. List what you must do in order of importance. Items, which may require more time, may need to be delegated first. Determine what must be done first, second, etc.
  4. Execute. Stick with you plan, and be patient! Don’t rush through things “just to get it done.” It can get on paper, but if it is not an optimum plan, it will not save you time in the long run. It will cost you untold hours of repair and backtracking. An extra hour on planning can save you weeks of suffering.

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