Don’t Go Alone. Lead like Jesus. Jesus walked with his disciples everywhere. Every ministry opportunity was also a teaching opportunity. Don’t go places alone. Disciple people as you work together. Always be inviting others to come with you when you have errands, hospital visits, leadership conferences, go out for lunch, or whatever. You will accomplish the task and build a disciple at the same time.
The work of ministry is never done. There is always more you could do. More people you could meet with. More sermons to write. More emails to answer. More outreach opportunities.
More. More. More.
Productivity matters for pastors. You will never be able to do everything, but the Bible encourages us to be wise and make the most of our time.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16, ESV)
Pastors and others who work in ministry will be held accountable for how well we steward the time God has given us.
How are you doing with that?
I have not always been the most productive person. However, in my years of ministry, I have learned a few things along the way have benefitted me.
I wish I knew and practiced these productivity tips earlier. I hope they will help you as well.
- Practice Spiritual Discipline
Without exception, begin your day with time in God’s Word and prayer. Disciples are disciplined. You cannot lead your people spiritually if you are spiritually empty.
Prayer and time in the Word is productive. God will always accomplish more in you and through you than you could ever do on your own.
- Exercise Regularly
Exercise is proven to increase productivity, especially as you age. You will have more energy. You will feel happier. And you will be healthier.
Exercise also boosts creativity. Pastors must be more conscious of their physical health, and better stewards of the bodies God created for us.
- Delegate, Automate, or Eliminate?
Look at all the things you have to do this week. Ask, “Can this be delegated, automated, or eliminated?” If you can delegate it, send it someone else’s way. If you can automate it with technology or a template, do that.
If you are honest, a lot of things simply do not need to be done. If it’s a recurring task from a church program or meeting that doesn’t advance the mission of the church, eliminate it. Just say “No.” Stop doing it, and do the things that produce the most fruit.
- Delegate Responsibility, Not Tasks
By far, one of the most productive thing you can do is delegate. You cannot do everything yourself. Don’t even try. You need a team of people and volunteers working together. But many pastors delegate poorly. They just give people a task to do.
Nobody wants to be given someone else’s to-do list. Leaders want responsibility. If you want to build leaders (and keep leaders), you have to give them authority and let them lead. When you delegate to someone, give them responsibility for a certain area.
Be clear with them what the desired outcome is, give them boundaries is needed, and then step away. Don’t tell them exactly what to do or how to do. Just tell them what they are responsible for, and let them lead. Only come alongside to help if they are struggling or are not achieving the desired outcome.
- Automate Your Appointments
Use a tool like Calendly to set appointment blocks in your schedule. You pick the times when you will be available to meet. People can then look at your open time slots, and book themselves.
This saves the hassle of multiple emails back and forth trying to set a date and time for the meeting. Instead, you just send them a link to your Calendaly calendar. The appointment will automatically appear on your calendar. This is a game-changer for counseling appointments or any other meetings with church members!
- Schedule Appointments with Yourself
If you do not fill your schedule, others will fill it for you. Schedule the most important things first. For example, if you need a few hours every Monday morning to work on your sermon, make a standing appointment for sermon prep every Monday.
Then, when people ask if you can meet at that time, you can look at your calendar and say with integrity, “Sorry, I have an appointment at that time. How about…” Think of all the things you need to do every week, month, or quarter and block time for it.