The past couple of weeks I’ve noticed myself constantly responding (reacting?) to one thing after another that has popped up on my radar or come across my desk as pastor. That certainly happens in the ebb and flow of ministry. Some things arise and must be dealt with quickly. That’s okay to a certain point.
But I could tell it was time to refocus my time and energy in order to be as good a steward of myself and what I should bring to the church as possible. My first three months were noticeably (to me) focused, strategic, and impactful, in terms of my time, energy and strengths. It was time to step back and look at the next three months in order to be as focused, strategic, and impactful as possible.
So the past couple of days, through this morning, that’s what I’ve been doing in between other responsibilities. Here’s how I’ve approached it.
1. I got out my trusty yellow pad and made a list of focus questions that I thought could lead me to the answers that would best assess my work and guide me in prioritizing for the next 3 months. Here are the 7 questions I came up with:
- What are the most impactful ways I can use my time over the next 3 months?
- Who are the people I need to engage for positive impact on my ministry leadership over the next 3 months?
- How am I cultivating my own creativity, teaching, leadership, management, and (most importantly) spiritual health?
- What are the key issues/major areas in the church that need my attention, especially over the next 3 months?
- How am I intentionally leveraging my strengths in order to maximize my personal effectiveness and the effectiveness of the church’s ministry over the next 3 months?
- How am I making room for my best effectiveness through delegation and team ministry?
- What would be my personal “continue doing, stop doing, start doing” assessment for the past 3 months, to apply over the next 3 months?
2. Continuing with my yellow pad, I wrote down everything that has been somewhere in my mind concerning ministry and church and self-work that I needed to capture on paper. This was about a page and a half.
3. I printed off my preaching calendar for October through February. A significant part of my calendar and work rhythm revolves around Sundays, of course. And a major area to focus on in planning is worship, so my preaching calendar tells me a lot about my time and where I’m headed.
4. I began with a “continue, stop, start” assessment of myself (#7 on my focus question list). Standing in front of the mirror is your friend. That was very helpful on its own.
5. Then I started at the beginning of my focus question list and with my trusty yellow legal pad–and the other pages named in the first 4 steps, answered the remaining focus questions by making a list for each one.
It’s incredible how clear-headed you can get from an exercise like this. That’s one value of taking the time to do it. But what will really make it valuable is my next step: Taking what I’ve got on paper and translating it into appointments on my calendar, clarified projects to pursue, and relationships to nurture.
Question: How do you refocus? What other steps or elements would you add to my list here?