Any pastor who wants to be productive needs a good plan. Last week I shared my seven least productive habits, so today I will show how I have turned those same bad habits into better ones.
1. Prioritizing My Texts
Give yourself permission to answer texts eventually instead of immediately. This will create realistic, healthy boundaries with people in your life and ministry.
A recent example is a ministry related text I received at 6:45 Saturday morning. I responded, but not that day.
Also, never interrupt a face-to-face conversation to answer a text unless it is a family emergency, a previously scheduled appointment, or you are in the seventh grade.
2. Managing My List
I learned that the key to keeping my promises was to simply write them down. Otherwise I will keep on smiling, nodding, and forgetting.
When someone asks me to pray about something, I write that request on my phone in front of them. This doubles the impact of pastoral care for them, and quadruples the odds I’ll actually pray for them.
3. An Empty Email Inbox
Since email is literally electronic mail, it serves a different purpose than a phone call or a text. I don’t respond to emails as quickly as texts, otherwise my mind has a difficult time staying focused.
I keep an empty email inbox by reading emails only once before I respond, forward, or delete. A full email inbox at the end of the day feels like a plate full of unfinished tasks.
4. A Social Media Schedule
Last week I warned about the dark side of social media, which I hope did not dissuade any pastors from using it. Utilizing free communication (shepherding) channels is not only productive, but is missional.
Don’t hesitate to repurpose content into short blog posts or video clips. If the message you spent hours preparing is good enough to share live on Sundays, it is good enough to share with many others who are willing to connect with you on their turf.
5. Setting Ground Rules for Meetings
Last week I wrote, “If you are in charge of a meeting that has no agenda or time limit–repent (i.e. change).” What if you are the guest of an agenda-less meeting? Politely ask for the agenda and estimated length ahead of time. Invariably there are some meetings you do not need to attend, or at least attend the whole time. If there is no time limit set, tell the leader you can only stay for 60 or 90 minutes. I assure you that meeting will be over after 90 minutes whether there are still people present or not.
6. Protecting My Study Time
You are there to love, lead, and feed your people, so protect your study time as if you are under direct orders, because you are. Racing to finish at the end of the week is inevitable some of the time, but it is avoidable most of the time if you plan ahead and close your door.
7. Practicing the Sabbath
There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive. We all get 168 hours a week, and shorter weekends will not actually help you get ahead. God set up a rhythm of work and rest and put it on his top ten list. We all work better after we are rested, so practicing the sabbath sets us up to be more productive.
I hope these tips will help you become a more productive pastor. I would love to hear your feedback in the comments section of this post.