Growing More Time (By Redeeming the Time)
My previous post shared a few thoughts on activities that can steal away our time (https://tommykiker.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/redeem-the-time/). Today I want to share with you a tips that I have gleaned and found helpful from a number of pastors that helps “grow” more time by being more efficient with the time we have. These time redeemers are geared toward men in pastoral ministry, but many of them can be applied to any career or line of work.
- Find Your Security in Christ: We often times overextend ourselves, not to please God but man. We need to understand that it is fine to say no as long as we have a more important task or assignment given from the Lord. Be gracious and kind but labor for an audience of One!
- Pray, Pay Attention, Plan, Prioritize: The preacher in me could not help but group these 4 P’s together. Pray: Obviously we should start each day with prayer and bible reading/devotion, but we should pray and ask the Lord to guide our time through the day. It is too important a commodity not to seek God’s guidance. Pay Attention: Many of us “leak” time during the day just because we do not pay attention. Watch where your time is going, what activities are distracting you and stealing your time, and limit them. At the very least by paying attention you can “plan” the distractions. Plan: I believe that every family should do a monthly budget and review it often to be a good steward of financial resources. Likewise, we should spend a little time each day planning how we are going to spend our time. You might want to spend 15 minutes or so at the end of each work day planning the “To Do List” for the next workday. When you walk in the office the next morning you do not need to spend a lot of time figuring out what you should do! Prioritize: Many times the “urgent” tries to replace the “important”. You need to prioritize what is most important and focus on that ONE task with intensity. Do not get distracted unless there is a genuine Strive to establish a weekly routine, there will be interruptions, but consistency breeds efficiency.
- Start Your Day Earlier: A. Criswell always encouraged pastors to give their mornings to God! John Bisagno writes, “Expand your efficiency by expanding your morning.” If you get your day started at 6 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. five days a week, then you have an extra ten hours a week to get things done. How many of you would benefit from an extra ten hours? I understand you would be tired at night if you get up that early. Good! Go to bed earlier, get the sleep you need but work to be an early riser! (I’m preaching to myself too!)
- Work: The results of one survey showed that the average American worker was productive for only three hours in an eight hour workday. The writer actually suggests shortening the workday, I would say shorten the time wasters. I believe there is a place for breaks, social interaction, and other activities, but we could accomplish a lot more in an average day (which is normally more than eight hours for a pastor) if we actually WORKED! We need to limit those things that distract us from our God-given tasks. It is a matter of God’s glory!
- Schedule your day in blocks of time: There is something intimidating or nearly impossible about trying to work a straight 8-hours at a time, but if you break it down into individual tasks time can go by very quickly and you can accomplish much more. Some suggest breaking your day into two or four-hour blocks. I resonate with Nelson Searcy who suggests that we work in 60 to 90 minute blocks of time. We are much more capable of intense concentration for an hour or so at a time then for much longer periods. Work for an hour or so then get up, walk around, use the restroom, check emails for a few minutes, and then get back to the next task.
- Schedule Appointments with Time in Mind: Normal weekly or monthly meetings can be scheduled around, it is the impromptu or one-time appointments that can cause time to slip away. Make sure you consider the time of your meetings in relation to the rest of a particular day’s tasks. Just the other day I had three meetings between 8 am and noon with three different students. One at 8 am, one at 10:30, and the final one at noon. The way I scheduled the meetings there was not enough time between each one to really get anything done outside of menial email. If possible you would want to put meetings back to back, or space them out enough where there is sufficient time in between to get actual work done. Understand me, the time with students was in no way a waste, but the way I set up the meetings caused me to waste an hour or two that could have been more productive.
- Make Good Use of Mealtimes: If someone wants to meet with you or you need to spend some time with an individual meet them for breakfast or lunch (You ought to eat with your family in the evenings). You need to stop and eat your meal, it is a waste to do it alone.
- Multitask: We all like to think that we are great at multitasking. Normally we are great at doing a lot of things but none of them very well. I would normally urge you to concentrate on one task at a time until it is finished or at a good break point. However there are some instances where multitasking is of significant value. Waiting Rooms: We all have to get our oil changed, get check-ups, etc . . . We often find ourselves in a waiting room of some sort. Keep a book or easily accessible work with you that allows you toput in twenty minutes of valuable time. Commute: You probably should not read while driving between appointments but you can listen to books, sermons, and other edifying programs. You can even cut the radio off, and spend that time in prayer. Keep your eyes open, there are enough bad drivers on the road already. If you are going somewhere that it is appropriate, take someone with you, much mentoring and fellowship can be done on a car ride. Taking a flight somewhere? You can read entire books while flying. Be open to share the gospel with those seated around you, but do not just settle for a nap unless that is what you really need.
- Maintain Sabbath Principles: Seriously, sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap. You certainly need to honor the biblical principle of a Sabbath. You need to take a 24-hour period and rest from your normal work, spend time worshipping the Lord, and spend relaxing time with your family. Sunday is not a day rest for the minister, but you need to find that time period that most benefits you and your family. A refreshed minister is normally more effective than one on the edge of exhaustion.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ! (Col 3:23–24)
 Much of the material given here is a summary of multiple sources on time management. The following were particularly helpful. John Bisagno, Pastor’s Handbook (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2011), 67–69, Johnny Hunt, Building Your Leadership Resume: Developing the Legacy That Will Outlast You (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2009), 184–190. Nelson Searcy, The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013), 85–102. Austin B. Tucker, A Primer for Pastors: A Handbook for Strengthening Ministry Skills (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004), 173–201.
 Bisagno, Pastor’s Handbook, 68.
 Melanie Curtain, “In an 8-Hour Day the Average Worker is Productive for this Many Hours,” http://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/in-an-8-hour-day-the-average-worker-is-productive-for-this-many-hours.html (Accessed January 6, 2017)
 Searcy, The Renegade Pastor, 95.