What’s Most Important when in gets Messy?

I just got back from NYMC conference on Monday feeling refreshed and very inspired by what I learned and experienced. If you are like me, it’s hard to get away for conferences, vacations, etc, because in the back of my mind I am always wondering what I will be missing and coming back to.

Fortunately, I have some great volunteers who have been partnering with me in ministry for a while now, so I  don’t usually come back to a catastrophe. However, no matter how much I  get done before I leave, there are always emails, voicemail, new tasks and the ‘usual’ week to get back to. For me, all the catch up can make for a ‘messy’ week and it is easy to lose focus in the midst of it all. At these times, it’s easy to get swallowed up by the latest email, or the ‘urgent’ voicemails people have left me… 

So what do I try to do? Here’s what I have learned over the years: 

1) Embrace this Reality: That given a couple of weeks, (or less), you will be caught up. It’s path of the course. It helps to realise that the pressure I feel today with all the added admin and volume of voicemail will only be for a while… It helps because if we do not relax with the idea that we will naturally catch up, we will think we have to pour our energies into these items today. (Note: we need to also embrace the reality that admin is a part of ministry, and will always be there. Therefore, when I say we will be ‘caught up’ I don’t mean it’s ALL done)…

2) Commit to Quiet Times: Everyone in the world might think that their voicemail is the most important, or that their email needs urgent attention, or the plan that has been on their mind for the last 5 days should have been on your radar during that time too. AND, if I we are honest,  we have our own agendas and lists too, don’t we! This is why we cannot short cut our quiet times. For me, even if I am not getting the deepest Bible study accomplished I cannot short cut my quiet time. Instead of being led by the stress and schedule, I try to seek God out of silence and solitude. 

3) Commit to Contact Time: No matter how busy I get, I always maintain certain ‘blocks’ of time for contact with students and my leaders. Busyness is the enemy of relationships and I must make sure that I have certain default times to get together with the people I am ministering to. For myself personally, I have had periods in the past where I have gone weeks without good connection outside of our programs all because I was consumed with admin and organization. In the short term I get stuff done, but in the longer term I am ineffective due to a distance people feel. I must connect in community because students and leaders will follow someone who knows them… Not someone gets stuff done… 

How do you prioritize when you are busy? What defaults do you have set in place? What areas do you struggle to keep focused on?

2 Responses to What’s Most Important when in gets Messy?

  1. Todd E. Hair March 12, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    I’ve really tried hard to put first things first. The first thing I do when I get to my office is spend time with God. I work FOR Him all day, but I know I need to be WITH Him first. I have found that when I spend time with God I actually feel like I’m working WITH Him and NOT FORHim the rest of the day. And that’s a good feeling.

  2. youthworktalk March 13, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    Working WITH him and not FOR Him is a huge difference maker Todd, I agree. I need to be reminded of this all the time. Thanks for the reminder! Good stuff mate!

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