Time management is a key to success in the life of the bivocational minister. Knowing what your priorities are helps in time management probably more than any other single factor. Years ago while taking a course called “Life And Work Of The Minister”, taught by Dr. Kim Richardson, we were asked exactly that question. What comes first in your list of priorities? Is it your secular work? Your church? Your family? Your studies? As a group we discussed it and came up with a list of various items for the list, then each of us wrote down our personal list of priorities from top down. It was then that Dr. Richardson sprung the trap…NONE of us was right! During the following discussion he gave a series of guidelines and tips, which are summarized below.
- God should be at the top of everyone’s list. All the following items remain below this single priority. Our life is dedicated to God first and foremost.
- The remaining part of your list is flexible. At times our family must take priority over all other concerns. Sometimes, though, ministry will be at the top of our task list. At other times we will have to move our secular work to the fore. If you promise your child that you will be at their championship game, BE THERE! If someone goes into the Emergency Room at 2am, ministry needs might dictate that you need to be there.
- Guiding principle: your family, and especially your spouse, are your first ministry.
- ‘God’ does NOT equal ‘church’. Your personal relationship with God and your church ministry are not the same. You must make time in your day for personal study, reflection and spiritual growth.
- Determine a set of guiding priorities, set up your calendar accordingly, but remember that circumstances change.
- Many pastors think that being busy and stressed out means you are successful. This is incorrect. God would rather have you burning steadily for Him for decades-long ministry than as a bright but brief flash in time. Burning out is not wise.
These are just a few tips for you, presented as food for thought and reflection. May God enlighten you as you seek to find HIS priorities for your life.
“For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life” Proverbs 9:11 (NIV)