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Issue #43: How To Protect Your Schedule Without Being a Jerk

Feeding & Leading the Sheep

I had a conversation recently with one of our staff members who told me their calendar was getting out of control. They have requests coming in each week for meetings. New people want to connect. Long-term people desire discipleship.

How do we as leaders respond to all the requests? How do we choose where to direct our time and energy?

That is the subject of this week’s newsletter.

“Yes” and “No”

This staff member and I talked about the importance of not letting everyone else dictate our calendars. It’s hard in ministry. You feel a sense of obligation to meet with everyone who requests time from you, but you also have a list of tasks and responsibilities (outside of meetings) that must get done.

I discovered the domino effect of saying “yes” to every meeting when I was younger. When I say “yes” to meeting requests, it created a logjam in my other responsibilities (sermon writing, preparing for elder meetings, budget planning, managing staff, etc.). Some of those things could be pushed off to another week, but not all of them can. Nobody will care how busy my week was if I stand up on Sunday morning with no sermon to give.

The need to get all my work done led to working during the time I should have been focused on the family. I stole time from them to get everything at church completed. Why? Because I was unwilling to say “no” to someone requesting to meet, so I said “no” to giving my family time.

That stings to say, and it stings to hear, but it’s true. A “yes” to one thing is a “no” to something else.

1 Actionable Tip

Create blocks of time in your schedule
to meet with people who request it,
but don’t touch the blocks of time committed
to your most important responsibilities.

The advice above is what I told my staff member. As a leader, you must block your schedule off to accomplish the most important responsibilities first. They are non-negotiable. Then you can create a few spaces in your week for meetings that are spontaneously requested.

For example, if you have Tuesday from 1-3pm and Thursday from 9-10:30am available to meet with people each week, then when people request time with you, those are the slots of availability you send them. If this week is full, tell them that, and ask if they want to schedule for the next week (or week after). Only make changes in emergency situations. If it is an emergency, find out what it is and determine if you are the best person to deal with the issue. Sometimes they reach out to you, but you’re not the one they really need to talk to.

If you’re not in control of your schedule, somebody else will be. But they won’t know everything else you are responsible for, nor will they care. It’s your job to manage your time wisely. People without emergencies can wait a few weeks before getting coffee or lunch with you after they request it. It’s not going to kill them. But it will allow you to be a more effective steward of your time.

Opportunities for Students & College Age Young Adults

Are you helping the students and college-age kids in your church stand firm against the opposition coming at them in the culture? If you’re not actively equipping them on issues of gender and sexuality, you can be sure the culture is. We’re here to help.

Join us October 13-15 at Black Mountain, NC (at Ridgecrest Conference Center). An incredible line of speakers will be teaching students about who they are as image-bearers of God. These foundations will supply students with important understanding of their identity. Plan to bring your students. It’s going to be a fantastic conference.

And we have our Arise Camps for students summer 2024. These resources exist to help keep your students in the fight. Partner with us in helping them fight the good fight of faith in a world that wants to snuff it out.