This curriculum was originally written for pastors and full time missionaries; however the principles and tips apply to all those who work and have a family or one or the other!
Focus on doing the Will of God.
You can find Scriptures and questions to ask yourself from our channel on God's Will. Here are three things to keep as a mindset whenever plans and action occur:
- The key to success is to find out what God wants you to do, and then do it. This can be done through knowing His Word and with prayer!
"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." (Ephesians 5: 15- 17)
- Look at how Jesus prioritized and managed His time.
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." (Mark 1:35)
"I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." (John 17:4)
- Remember, there is always enough time to do God's Will, there is never enough time to do yours. WWJD was very popular a few years back. What would Jesus do? We may not know the mind of God, nor can we ever second-guess Him. However, we can know what direction He would have us go by focusing on Him and His character. Let this be your guide!
- With the above principles in mind, evaluate how you spend your time.
Good management is "Proactive Scheduling," which produces results. "Crisis Management" does not! Proactive Scheduling is being well organized and making plans by budgeting the time so daily pastoral crises and realities of life that come up can be dealt with, while still maintaining your call and goals. By setting priorities and keeping a calendar of your appointments and activities, you will be able to stay focused on the goals and mission of the church, while still being available to pastor and shepherd the people.
To accomplish this you need three very import items: a calendar, a "to do" list, and a phone list. Experience has shown that it is best to have all three in one, and have a back up with an assistant in case you lose it. If you use a PDA or other electronic devise, back it up!! Although those things are fun to use, they are very unreliable and are often stolen! In order for you to be an effective Christian leader, your calendar and "to do" list should reflect those priorities discussed above. Effectively organizing all the details of your life and ministry will allow you to relax and keep focused on Christ and the call He gave you, while still having the time to be a pastor and a Shepherd. Details and responsibilities will be accomplished and not "fall through the cracks" of disorganization!
Here are some ideas:
- Have a well-organized PDA or Appointment Book to keep a time log of activities (if you have a PDA or any electronic appointment devise, back it up daily!). This is an overview of the year, month, week, and day. Go over it once a week to see how time is spent. What needs to increase? What needs to decrease? Observe which "time wasters" can be eliminated. Use this procedure to evaluate your own spiritual condition. How much time are you in prayer and in the Word? Make sure to develop a system of follow-up on meetings, appointments, and commitments made. Do not count on remembering everything, because you will not!
- Use the appointment book to keep track of places to go, people to see, and main things that need to be done during the day. In addition, this calendar can be used to block off time for the family and your personal spiritual growth time! Keep track of planning time, personal and family time, study and sermon preparation, pastoral care and counseling, appointments, meetings, projects, staff management, time with your leadership team, fellowship activities, telephone calls, email and other correspondence, and errands. Also, schedule interruptions and break times.
- Pastors and church leaders should keep a list in the appointment book of the leaders, people and volunteers for whom they are responsible. Have a system to "flag" them for when and what you are going to do, to pray, encourage, check up on, and so forth!
- Use your calendar to develop a "Standard Week" with when meetings, and family time are, etc. Thus, you can be prepared to take on more responsibility, or to say "no" when your book is too full!
- Have a well organized "to do" list. These are the details of the appointment book. Make a list with three columns: 1. What needs to be done (give this the most space, and allow room for notes. When you make notes, use another color of ink; this will keep you from missing something!). 2. Time needed to get it done. 3. Priority of tasks.
- Check out a stationary store to find a good system that will incorporate these two together. Find one that works for you.
- Group similar activities together, such as email, phone calls and a meeting all on the same subject. Then, you can make notes about them for your follow-up.
- Have a PDA or a portable telephone directory of important numbers to keep with you.
- There is always ways to improve oneself in time and spiritual management!
- Concentrate on the priorities listed above.
- Consider that your planning is a spiritual process because you are seeking to serve Him. He is your prime directive. Make sure you discern God's Will for your life and ministry. Take the time to plan and establish faith goals and priorities. In addition, do not forget or neglect your family!
- The top management consultants teach that the successful executive needs to be responsible with his time by organizing it, and then delegating it and/or disposing of what is unnecessary. This is also a great idea for church leaders as long as the focus is on a listening ear and a heart for God!
- Do the first priorities first, and do not procrastinate.
- Do one thing at a time!
- Publicize your main schedule in a church publication so people know when to reach you and when to leave you alone. Make sure if you are unavailable, someone else is taking pastoral care calls! Never leave the sheep unattended, but do not be the only one attending them!
- Have a system to highlight priority activities and appointments in advance.
- Have someone watch your calendar if you are not good at it.
- Make sure you regularly schedule, at the very least, one afternoon a week to meet with church members on a regular basis. If at all possible, and depending on the size of the church, visit each family once a year. Make sure each leader contacts the families under his care once a month, by visit, letter, email, or fellowship gathering!
- Get involved in a pastor's fellowship. This will give opportunity to vent, to bounce ideas around, to be refueled, and encouraged by others who will listen to you!
- The secret of good time management is concentration. Keep your desk neat and organized. File things right away, and do not allow them to pile up.
Other ideas for time management
- Develop a good file system by subject.
- File your letters and correspondence by subject, not by title or whom it was for or from. This will enable you to retrieve it more easily!
- Try to handle papers once. When papers, magazines, or mail comes in or anything else that comes for you to handle, do not just put it in your in-box. Deal with it as soon as possible. Do not put it aside unless you are waiting for something. In this case, put a "post it" note on it and use the in-box!
- Before you make phone calls or email, think about what you need to say first. This will save you a lot of time.
- Go through your files every year and get rid of what you do not need. If in doubt, place it in a file box and store it. If you do not get into it during the year, you can safely throw it out.
- Deal with hate mail, even if it is anonymous! Most pastors throw it out, but consider that it gives you a sense of what might be wrong in the church. Do not let it bring you down. Do not respond out of anger. Pray, and wait before you respond! You can copy it with your reply and then post it in the church somewhere! That way, the anonymous mail will stop, and the people will know that you are not afraid to deal with their issues. (Luke 12:3)
Manage your teaching schedule too!
· Come up with a general teaching/sermon plan for the year, such as Bible books and topics you will teach and cover throughout the year. Divide the year by weeks, and then give a very rough outline for as many as you can. At least, write out the verse, read the passage, give it a title and main theme/ topic sentence, and your first impressions and thoughts. Then, set up a file for each category. For example, if you are teaching in the book of John and in Colossians, you will have two main files. Set up a file for each lesson. Throughout the year, keep your "radar" out for illustrations, ideas, references, and anything else you can think of that comes to you from prayer and devotions. Then file them in those categories.
· This system also works for meetings and other projects!
· Try to get your church to give you a paid week or two off a year just to work on this! Write out all teaching outlines for the year. You will find preparation much faster and more efficient, because you can have your entire year of sermons and teaching outlines in advance! For ideas, use our "Into Thy Word" method. This will greatly liberate you for other management and pastoral duties, so you are not working on your sermon on Saturday evening or, worse, on Sunday morning!
More Pastoral Management Ideas
1. Make sure the Pastor is encouraged and equipped to do the work he is called to do.
2. Pastors should, on a regular basis,
- Realize that he or she, (the senior pastor) is the "pace car." He has the power of the pulpit to significantly promote, and endorse programming, and equip the church!
- Know how to lead himself, and others, to bring the church deeper into the heart of God, so to worship and glorify Him!
- Go to seminars, conferences, and other group training sessions for ideas, refreshment, and edification! Be open to new ideas and at the same time be able to discern what is "hogwash" and what is Biblical.
- Take other leaders to your seminars and events so they may be edified, too.
- Allow time to do your own research and study.
- Allow people in the congregation to bring you sermon, curriculum, staffing, facilities, yearly planning, vision casting, planning, and teaching ideas!
- Spend time planning mentoring, and equipping the board and leaders.
- Be aware of the shifts, and trends in ministry, but only use what you need and what is Biblical! That way, when people want to move in a new direction that may be hazardous or unbiblical, you can educate them.
- Make sure that people with broken relationships and special needs are included in the church.
- Emphasize family but do not leave out others in the church, such as singles.
- Do not allow some leaders to maintain the perception that their ministry corner is more important, or that it needs more attention than the other ministries. Every season of life is important, and needs to be met by ministerial programs filled with love and care! We are all parts of the Body.
- Be aware of "turf," and political agendas.
- Both the senior pastor and the rest of the pastoral staff must support the church and its programs publicly as well as privately. If there is a disagreement, take it to the boardroom!
- The training, discipling, recognition, and encouragement of the church are critical roles for the pastor. If the senior pastor feels he does not have the gifts and abilities to equip and train others to do ministry, then he needs to build a team around him that does! If this is ignored, the church will fail! Some pastors are great teachers, but cannot do anything else. A pastor cannot be expected to do everything, for he is not the sole part of the body of Christ. He is the shepherd for it! A pastor must operate in his gifted area, and build others around him to compensate for the other areas where he is weak and do his best to still give support and the rest of these bullet points (see The Four Hats the Pastor Wears in, A Primer on How to Lead and Manage the Church: The Big Picture and Overview! (Romans 7:4-6; 1 Corinthians 10:14-16; 12; Ephesians 4:9-16)
- To be able to make his support public, the pastor must be convinced that the concept and purpose of the program/ ministry is necessary and real.
- Pastors cannot do everything but must be a good model of Christ's character wherever possible!
- The pastor should be plugged into the main fellowship and community events for support. "Work the room" in people contacts!
- The pastor should lead the church in a celebration of serving Christ outside of worship as the progress and growth of the ministry is recognized, and the volunteers are thanked publicly.
- When the "chips are down," the pastor must support the team leader, find out the cause and motivations for personal attacks, be in prayer, and be wise. The other leaders need to do the same with the pastor(s)!
- If misconduct allegations are made against a leader with someone under 18, that leader needs to step down immediately and temporarily, and the allegation investigated, even if no wrong was done. Most of the time, such allegations end up being false. However, you have to protect the children and the leader from further allegations, and seek the truth! Afterward, restore the person to leadership and publicly clear the air! If there is misconduct, the authorities must be involved as well as your denominational leaders, since there are strict procedures and insurance guidelines that must be followed, such a person should never be allowed in leadership or around people under 18!!
- The pastor needs to be sensitive to the gifts and abilities of leaders, so he can equip and encourage them to work as a team. They can "cover" each other, those who are not gifted in certain areas with those who are. Ministry and the Body of Christ is all made up of different parts, thus we have to work as a team to be effective.
- The senior pastors and leaders should regularly exercise "random acts of encouragement." A personal note in the church or home mailbox, or
- well-chosen words at a public meeting and/or in a private conversation would be good ways to accomplish this!
- Very important: Have a system of pastoral care to train your staff and leaders so when they hear of a church member, or of another leader, (many churches neglect their leaders, thinking they are OK, and do not need anything!) or someone in their family with a pastoral need or emergency, that they get immediate response to that need! Assign a key person to be in change of it in 24-hour shifts, with a contact list and trained deacons or care workers to be on stand-by. No one is self-maintaining. We all need support and care! Make sure there are caring people able to get there in a timely manner! (I Corinthians 13:1-8; Colossians 4:5; 1 Timothy 3:14-15; Hebrews 12:14-15)