I’m reading this old book that my pastor gave me and in it is a chapter rich with counsel on burnout. In this chapter is a glancing reference to an economic strategy for streamlining. Look at your spreadsheet and find the elephant (big thing). If you cut a bunch of little things you have stress over the organization without enough cuts to actually fix the problem. However, if you cut some of the BIG elephant out…little stress and obvious impact. This book took that economic philosophy and applied it to time management.
Pastors are typically horrible at time management. If you happen to be a creative pastor… well you are doomed. However, your time is a gift of God and should be handled properly for your health, your family and your congregation. So, how do you deal with your elephants?
Some elephants you have to cage.
I had to think about my schedule and cut out the elephant/s. Some things will require a measure of discipline to let go of it. For me, one of the elephants is Facebook. I keep that thing up all day and though I don’t stare at it all day, it does suck some energy from my day. Stalking, IM’ing, and developing witty tweets so that I can be seen as current can suck energy that should be used advancing my spirit, the church’s goals or the kingdom of Christ.
Some elephants you have to give away.
Another elephant is setting up and tearing down on Wed nights. It takes about 3 hours a week to do this. I have to give this elephant to someone else. Rather than praying or tweaking my message for the students, I am lugging chairs…not exactly what I thing Rivertown Church was hoping for when they hired me.
Some elephants you have to shoot.
This elephant may not seem like an elephant to you but for me it was huge. Indecision and dwelling were two elephants I had to shoot (sorry PETA). I have to learn to make decision quicker and live with them and move on. The pace we work in ministry doesn’t allow for a lot of time to dwell (evaluate to be sure but not dwell). I am having to work at decision making. This is something you can/have to train. Everything from where to eat to sermon series ideas to discipleship strategies. I would wring my hands for days, make the decision and then wring my hands for days after that wondering if I did the right thing…not cool…at all.
What are your elephants that you must cage, give away or shoot?