Most leaders I know are wrestling with time. To be more accurate, they are actually wrestling with priorities. We have time for a lot of things, but the problem is usually in our selection process (or lack thereof) that clarifies what we give our time to. One moment a leader is complaining that they don’t have time to spend with God and the next I hear them talking about binge-watching a whole series on Netflix all weekend.
Just yesterday I sat down with a church planter and helped him to structure his week. No one had ever helped him with a grid for how each day should be organized and the possibilities that this could unleash. Here are some priority-centered questions that can help you shape your week.
What would crush you if you failed at it? This is an identity question. Without realizing it, there are things we are striving toward with too much of our identity at stake. These things will shape our weeks along with our fears and relationships.
What is your priority today? Often those with a lot of control over their schedules get paralyzed by their freedom. This paralysis launches them into overworking or laziness. I believe each day of the week should have a different priority. Define it, schedule your day around it and accomplish it. Any space that’s left over in your schedule allows you the space for contemplation or getting ahead.
What does God want you to do? Often we will start our days with full inboxes and our weeks with full agendas but never consult God on what HE wants us to do. Make sure to find a process to consult God on your weekly schedule before it turns into the ministry treadmill where you’re always running hard but never seem to cover any ground.
Have you over-planned or under-planned? We all lean toward either over-planning our week our under-planning. We’ve all had less than fruitful weeks because we crammed them too full or didn’t prep for them at all. A fruitful week in ministry for me is intentionally planned a few weeks in advance, but has elbow room to adapt. If you had a big event and worked incredibly hard last week, plan a week to get ahead again and go lighter on meetings. If you are coming off a holiday season, plan lots of time to reconnect with those you are discipling and leading.
When is your best time? We get caught up in labels like introvert vs. extrovert, morning person vs. night owl. One of those dangerous labels is night person vs. morning person. Although I might feel more creative at night that doesn’t work well in a season with little kids. I have recognized my best time is first thing in the morning, like fresh tracks through powder on my snowboard. Figure out when you are most productive and plan your most formative activities during those times.
Have you left room for God to change your plans? I have been through a few seasons where I was booking my schedule 100% full. This left me no time for relational space, processing or the ever growing box of emails. Now I practice “The 80% rule” where I don’t fill my schedule more than 80% full so I can be reminded to attend to people, not just tasks and meetings. It’s amazing how God guides that other 20%.
Your time is not your time; it’s God’s time. Steward it well.