TIME MANAGEMENT AND THE CHRISTIAN WORKER
ROBERT E. BINGHAM
Time Management is the maximum utilization of time in order to achieve your objective most effectively.
A Case Study
It was too good to be true. A local church in Atlanta had asked me to lead in their annual Bible study week. Fortunately, it was the book of Acts, with the emphasis on the beginnings of the missionary movement of the church. It lent itself to challenging the local church to follow the example of the Antioch church and the missionary zeal of the apostle Paul.
The pastor and minister of education had encouraged me to demonstrate creative ways of teaching. This was an important by-product since many of those attending would be Sunday School teachers. I had just finished writing a thirteen-week series for adult Bible study in Acts and had organized it along the same lines as requested by the church.
The class could be taught two hours each weeknight, enabling me to give full time to my regular vocational work. To
top it all off, they offered a most generous honorarium, considerably more than I had ever received before for any kind of extra ministry. It was a far cry from the early days of gasoline money and a set of cuff links!
Strange things emerge from such idyllic surroundings. The clerk of the federal court sent me a summons for jury duty that same week. Little did I know that several crucial matters were going to surface regarding my regular work. They demanded immediate attention, and that meant going into the office very early each morning. The idyllic arrangement degenerated toward the predicament of the classic one-armed paperhanger. Leaving the house at 6:00 A.M. and returning at 10:00 P.M. meant that somebody, somewhere, was going to be shortchanged. (I just do
not have sixteen hours of productive and creative energy.) Would it be my regular work? The jury scene? The church at Bible study?
As it turned out I tried to give my best efforts to the nightly Bible study. I might be able to take up the slack at my
regular job and the other jurors might pull my weight for me.
Surely, the Lord would see me through this bit of overscheduling. After all, was not I serving him by teaching his
Word and serving in the cause of his justice?
The week began with the excitement of the challenge. Each day took its drain and showed the strain. My wife gave her usual support, which was always more than I deserved and more than any man could ask.
The last straw came Thursday night. I dragged myself from the automobile into the house, gave a lip service greeting
to my wife, sipped her offered cup of tea, and stared into space. She spoke. I stared. The following dialogue is verbatim. I shall never forget it.
“Bob, I just want to ask you one question.”
“What are you trying to prove?”
A long pause ensued, filled with my quizzical glance. “What do you mean, `What am I trying to prove?’ ”
“Well, you must be trying to prove something. No one can go at this pace without trying to prove something. Is it
that you do not feel that you earn enough money to support our family?”
“Is it that you feel that the Bible will not be taught unless you teach it to the cross-town church?”
“Is it that you think you are invaluable to the kingdom?”
“Well, I ask you again. What are you trying to prove?”
Another long pause produced the confession. “I don’t know. I want to do so many things that I try to do too many.
I just don’t have the time.”
At this point, I had only confessed. Little did I know that I was on the road to a far-reaching commitment.
It came right after she responded, “Your efforts to serve the kingdom are commendable. In the process you seem to have no time for your family or for your own spiritual growth.”
It was as close to a Damascus Road experience as I ever had. In a moment, in a flash of insight, I saw the wisdom of the question and her evaluation. It did not require the usual hassle of charges and counter-charges. There was no need to be defensive. She had lovingly stated her diagnosis of a long, chronic, problem. I was not “prioritizing” my time in terms of my objective. My excuse was classic: “I don’t have the time.”
Within ten seconds I volunteered a commitment to a new priority for the use of my time. I had as much time as anyone else.
Locating the Traps
Major Trap-There is a time shortage. Not enough hours, days, months, years. I want to get so much done that it is impossible to do it in the time available. Other people may have time to plan, take a full vacation, be with their family, enjoy leisure, read a novel, write a book, and the like. But not me. I give every bit of my time doing the essentials. That doesn’t leave any time for the extras.
Any of us could have written the above paragraph. Is there a mortal who has not said, “There are not enough hours in
the day?” That seems to be the only question when the real and probing question is, “How can I use the hours available to their best advantage?”
It is just another form of escapism to claim that others seem to have more time. Indeed, often it appears that way. What we do not know is the demands of their time.
Stop a minute and think of the persons who seem to get more done than the rank and file. How do they do it? We will
stay in the trap if we try to excuse our poor use of time. That process may make the trap more tolerable, but it will not extricate us from the trap. Here are some common excuses:
1. Their job is not as responsible as mine.
2. I don’t have enough staff.
3. My secretary isn’t efficient.
4. You can’t imagine my family responsibilities.
5. My health won’t tolerate the pace.
6. My office environment won’t allow concentration.
7. I could never catch up on my regular job, not to mention taking on any extra-vocational work.
8. It takes time to become involved with the personal needs of people.
Add your own pet excuses to these standard ones. Assuming we are well-motivated, we tend to find an excuse for our failure to achieve. A good excuse is more palatable than a poor one. But a poor one is better than no excuse. A realistic appraisal might be that other people seem to have more talents or gifts in using the available time. (But who wants to be that objective and admit it?) If the truth were known, the other “gifted” person may have disciplined himself over the years to become the master of time, rather than vice versa.
Other Traps-1. I practice the “Open-Door Policy.” My office is open to anyone at any time. If you are going to be a leader, you must be available. It may take a lot of time, but it is worth it.
An attractive trap, isn’t it? In order to avoid the charge of having a closed door, we tend to overdo our availability to everyone. If we push the open-door concept too far, we eventually will face some other problems.
(A) We spend so much time giving ourselves and listening to others that we have no time for filling up our emotional and spiritual reservoirs.
(B) We have a lifestyle that is impossible to discipline.
(c) We tend to force our family or secretaries to cover up for us and reply that we are not available. None of these seem to help in solving the problem.
But, are there no options to the two extremes? Of course there are: announced times for public availability, agreeing to see the person later in the day or week; talking briefly on the telephone.
2. There are so many meetings that I must plan (or attend). You cannot imagine how much time they take. I meet myself coming and going. I told my associates the other day, “We’ve got to quit meeting like this!” If you don’t find yourself attending an abundance of meetings, then what do you do with all your time? Every manager is engaged in calling meetings. Therefore, the question is not whether to have meetings. The question is how to make your meetings advantageous, rather than a drain on your emotional, physical, and time-conscious being.
3. If I could just get away from the telephone. People disrupt my concentration. They talk for hours on end. They call at the office, at my home, while I’m on vacation. If I could disconnect Mr. Bell’s invention, I could save several hours a day. On second thought, recognize some of the advantages of telephone communication when we want to get our message to others. It is possible to rig your instrument to operate on outgoing calls only. But that is as negative as the closed-door policy. The answer seems to lie in more efficient use of the telephone to your advantage, to meet your objective.
4. Answering my correspondence takes so much time, you wouldn’t believe it. I spend so much time with dictating equipment that I don’t get to spend enough time with people. Could it be that we do not know how to utilize this part of our daily work? Are we spending too much time in making a business letter into a literary masterpiece? Are we taking two pages to write what two paragraphs could do more effectively? Are we generating some correspondence that could better go undone? Are we using time-honored methods of the 1940s when we have easy access to the updated word processing procedures of today?
5. Personal visits would take every hour of my day if I would let them. As it is, I seldom have time for my family because of the hours I spend talking with other people-home visitation, counseling, drop-in visitors, salesmen, and the like. And my ministry depends on contact with persons. I just don’t have time left. Your solo voicing of this dilemma joins hundreds of others and becomes a giant chorus. Do not think you are alone in this problem. As in correspondence and telephone discipline, could it be that you are not managing well what time you do have? How
vividly I remember one evening going to visit a prospect for our church with a deacon who knew the family from another city. Upon arriving at the home, they had one great reunion, talking about everything from their former church to Little League football. They agreed to visit our church (and later became excellent members). A good use of our time? Maybe? I neglected to tell you the visit took three and one-half hours! That is a total of seven man-hours. Could it be that we could have achieved the same objective in half that time and visited another family that same night?
6. Who has time to take a day off? I can’t even find time for a vacation. When you work seventy or so hours a week, how can you take a day off? The demands of this job do not even let me find time for that personal touch that I want to give my associates.
Busy man, you have had a little day! Research upon research has shown that occasional time off is productive in the long run, be it coffee break, an afternoon off, day off, or the scheduled vacation. It is only in this century that business and manufacturing personnel have enjoyed any holidays other than Christmas Day. And yet, today’s worker can be a productive worker, when motivated.
It is not working that wears us out as much as pretending to work. I recall when working as a market analyst for Black, Sivalls, and Bryson, that some days there was not enough work to do in our office. I felt it necessary to pretend that I was busy. It seemed that 5:00 P.M. would never come. I was absolutely exhausted when I got home. The “busy” person does not necessarily get the job done. The organized person usually gets more done.
Good advice: Work smarter, not longer.
And about the personal touch. You either have it, or you don’t. It is not something at which you must work. Your
associates can tell. People are smarter than dogs. Dogs can instinctively tell whether you like them or not. It just can’t
be explained. The more serious trap is, do you feel too important to be bothered? That really is bad news.
7. I don’t understand it. I use all of the time-savers written in current articles. I have streamlined my office procedures, enabling me to minister outside of the office. And yet, I don’t have enough time and the result is an unproductive ministry.
This trap seems to be contradictive to the others. You have found some shortcuts and designed efficiency into your
management style. But still little time is available and no results are attainable. But whoever said that shortcuts and
efficiency makes for results? Maybe you have cut down and cut down until you have cut out the heart and spirit of your ministry. Some ministers mechanically visit every day every member who is hospitalized. But the visit is cold, quick, and self-defeating. Would it be better management of his time to visit every other day and stay longer at each visit? Or would a visit every third day (in noncrisis situations) allow him to make some other visits in the community that otherwise would go unheeded?
Yes or No
1. Is my time more important than my money?
2. Is a calendar my only time support document?
3. Do I plan my schedule longer than a month in advance?
4. Am I willing to change a prearranged schedule?
5. Do I usually get done what I plan to do?
6. Do my associates feel that I have time for them?
7. Do I feel bogged down in paperwork?
8. Do incoming telephone calls hinder my work?
9. Am I taking time to do things that could be delegated to others?
10. Am I over-supervising my associates?
11. Am I spending too much time doing and not enough time managing?
12. Does my open-door policy work to my advantage?
13. Do other people seem to have more time than I?
14. Do I plan my meetings to be time-savers rather than time-spenders?
15. Do I handwrite my letters?
16. Do I take my allotted vacation?
17. Do I tend to procrastinate and then forget?
18. Do I attempt too much at one time?
19. Do some snap decisions come back to hurt me?
20. Do I prefer to manage by the priorities of others?
21. Is the coffee break a time-waster, as a rule?
22. I don’t have time to get my job done.
How to Avoid the Time Traps
General Guidelines-There are so many traps in this area that it is risky to identify such a few. Since time is common to everyone in an identical measure, time management becomes universal. Executive, laborer, homemaker, professor,
student-everyone struggles with time management. Then why is it that so many never understand the solution to the riddle? Where does the time go? How does time fly? Time is against us. There are not enough days in the week.
Oversimplified, the following time acrostic may help to get the answer to the riddle of time shortage.
P lanning your time in terms of your objective.
O rganizing to provide leisure and vocational time.
W orking consistently at your objective.
E valuating results in terms of time spent.
R eprioritizing your time for more effectiveness.
You will note some basic administrative overtones to the acrostic. Time management is basically the same as any other type of management. The power that good time management generates is not power over other people. It is to power yourself to accomplish what you set out to do in the same 168 hours per week available to everyone. Here are some general guidelines to assist.
1. Nearly everyone wastes two hours every day. That comes to thirty days a year. So all those things that executives
say they don’t have time for, they do have time for. That’s what Merrill E. Douglass, director of the Time Management Center and author of the book How to Control the Time of Your Life, told participants at AMA’s meeting on “Time Management,” held in San Francisco, July 6-7, 1977,
In addressing the meeting, Douglass listed what he considers to be the biggest time wasters. Interruptions, drop-in
visitors, and telephone calls, he said, constitute the greatest offenders. The second largest time wasters, in his opinion are being involved in too much detail and attempting to do too much at the same time. Then come crises: lack of objectives, deadlines, or priorities; meetings; and paperwork.
What can people do to schedule their work time better? In Douglass’s opinion, the first thing that managers should do is clarify their objective and priorities. Decide on the best use of their time.
2. To the administrator who says that he “ran out of time,” James L. Hayes, president of AMA says, “Actually, no one can “run out of time.’ ” Time is a relentless commodity hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Unlike money, it must be spent; like money, it may be wisely spent or squandered.
So what appears to be a problem with the availability of time is really a problem of misspent time. Like the hapless
do-it-yourselfer who paints himself into a corner, the manager, who suddenly finds that there’s no time to do something critical, hasn’t been paying enough attention to what he or she has been doing.
The real value of managerial time expenditure depends on both the amount of energy invested and the appropriateness of activities undertaken. By doubling your energy, for example, you can get twice as much done in a given period thus, in effect, doubling its value. But if the activity involved is irrelevant to the job or is something that someone else should have done, you have wasted your managerial energy and devalued the time you spent.
Hayes further says that the basics in time management involves:
(1) Taking a personal time inventory to find out where the workday actually goes.
(2) Planning activities in order of priority to ensure that first things do come first, instead of being inadvertently preempted by the trivial.
(3) Delegating properly to free managerial time for managerial activities.
3. Most every speaker on time management lists time thieves. Most lists will include these, by one name or the other.
(Not necessarily in order of thievery.)
Unproductive meetings — Crisis decisions — Attempting too much at once — Can’t say no — Can’t say yes –Failing to delegate — Lack of authority — Needless telephone calls — Poor planning — Inadequate information — Snap decisions — Goals too high — Making same mistake twice — Goals too low — Lack of good policies — Outside demands — Flood of correspondence — Television — Doing instead of managing — Lack of priorities — Lack of self-discipline –Procrastination — Unavailability of the boss — Uncertain objectives — Job expectancy not clear — Office interruptions — Fatigue — Undue socializing
As you look at the list, note that some of our favorite time stealers are conspicuous by their absence. For instance,
nonproductive associates, inefficient secretaries, poor working conditions, unreasonable boss, unrealistic responsibilities, impossible task, job lacks potential. These are usually the excuses we give. They major on passing the buck and sharing the blame with someone else. When we take time to be objective, most of our time stealers originate with ourselves. Pogo was right when he declared, “We have met the enemy and he is us. ”
4. A group of doctoral students at Midwestern Theological Seminary provided the following lists. All of them had been out of the seminary five years or more and made their observations from their experiences in local fields.
Effective Use of My Time (Listed in order of effectiveness)
1. Quiet time with God
2. Family togetherness
3. Setting objectives and priorities
5. Preparation for preaching/teaching
6. Training others
8. Community involvement
9. Continuous education
Ineffective Use of My Time (Listed in Order of ineffectiveness)
1. Failing to delegate
3. Poor planning
4. Failing to make a daily schedule
5. Failing to “prioritize”
6. Open-door policy
8. Ineffective meetings
10. Failing to evaluate
5. A fundamental barrier in time utilization is failing to understand the difference between urgent and important.
Given some thinking time, you can probably state the difference between the two. But ask yourself this question, Do I make my daily decisions for time utilization based upon my academic knowledge of these two words?
Urgent has an immediacy about it. The job must be done now, or it cannot be done at all. It may not be very important. Assume that your decision is between watching an 8:00 P.M. television program or reading this book. If it is 7:59 P.M., that is urgent. Probably not important, You may be able to see the television program on its rerun, and you can read the book tomorrow.
Important has a crucial consequence about it. The job must eventually be done or the entire objective will suffer. It
may not be urgent. Assume that your decision is attending to pastors’ conference at noon or working on the proposed long-range plan for the church. You can attend the luncheon meeting if you wish, since the deadline for your recommendation to the church council is two months off. However, if you consistently put off the important matters in preference to urgent matters, you will soon have a real crisis on your hands. that is, you have to make a time decision that involves two matters that are both urgent and important. Usually, this is caused by failing to handle important tasks before the deadline arrives.
Specific Guidelines -1. Reduce your objectives to writing and keep them in front of your planning processes. A card on your desk or a note in your datebook will serve as a discipline when you want to decide how to use your time. Take some time to establish your priorities in terms of your objective and specific deadlines. You may want to do this
monthly. Thirty minutes spent in this way may save hours and maybe days during the next month. You made your decision some time ago, and now all you have to do is carry it out. Naturally, emergencies may change your direction. This in known as “managing by exception” and is a faithful friend to the effective administrator.
At the end of the month look at your calendar to see how well you stayed by your priorities. Learn from your own mistakes and affirm your discipline by your success. At the same time, determine your priorities for the next month.
2. Use your desk calendar as your master calendar. Transfer each week’s schedule to a pocket-sized card that will
stick to you closer than a brother for that week. You can make penciled changes on it throughout the week if needed.
This keeps your immediate information where you need it, in your pocket. It keeps long-range dates where they are
most functional and the safest, on your desk. If you have a secretary, trust and train her to make office appointments for you. This makes you available to your associates. She may make a few mistakes in underbooking or overbooking appointments at first. But she will learn. The safety factor lies in the situation of not being trapped into taking an engagement just because you do not have another appointment.
How many leaders have accepted engagements only because the inquirer asked if that date were available? The unsuspecting administrator whips out the traditional annual pocket calendar and is trapped. His inquirer knows that the date is available.
What can you do? Be candid and say, “No, I don’t want to come.” Far better to ask the person to write you a note and check it with your desk calendar when you get back to the office. In the meantime you can decide whether that meeting is supportive of your objectives or of his objectives only. In some cases, you will need to be candid and tell the inquirer that the date is not filled with another engagement but that you need that time for other matters.
Almost universally successful salespeople spend the last few minutes of the working day reevaluating how they intend to spend the hours of the next day. They say those few minutes are the most productive time of the day. Maybe religious leaders could take a note from their notebook. Let’s don’t take their practicality and “baptize” it by equating it with our evening devotional time. They are both important, but different processes.
3. The telephone can be another Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. What would we ever do without it? Books have been written about its two-faced character. Let’s see if we can capsule the essence of its capabilities to steal time from us. (But let’s not be fooled: No inanimate object can steal anything from us. We lose it by default!)
Most of the time the telephone aids us when we want to talk to someone else. It tends to rob us of time when others
want information from us. Therefore, take care of the time spent on incoming calls. (This is not to be selfish. If your objective is not selfish, then your priorities will probably not be selfish.) By your placing the call, our culture’s courtesy allows you to initiate its termination. The alternative has kept many of us on the line for hours.
It is recognized that this principle cuts across the grain for some people. Let us use the long-distance call as an
example. The telephone company has done an unbelievable job of making us think a long-distance call is both urgent and important. When someone announces that we have a call from another city, what do we usually do? Drop everything (and everybody) and rush to the phone. But wait a minute. What does that say to the person with whom you are talking? What if it comes during a private prayer in your office? How many times have you received a long-distance call from someone who wanted to give you something? Do they not usually want something from you? Then should it not fit into your priority system?
Perhaps this seems a bit cold to you. It need not, for the essence of your being will be interpreted after you get on
the line. Many of us in religious work are so sensitive about the feelings of others that we lose sight of our objective. We can be “thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent” until we become Eagle Scouts and fail to accomplish our goals. Still seems cold? Recall when Jesus’ mother came to ask him to help out with the impending social crisis of the Cana wedding? At first, he balked because it did not aid in the accomplishment of his objective. Later, he performed the miracle to use as a foundation sign for his ministry.
4. Correspondence can generally be cut in half by cutting our letters in half. Victorian rhetoric and business cliches
are out-of-date. A good letter has four parts. State the purpose of the letter. Explain the details as needed. Be specific in what response you want the reader to make. Add any personal note that you think appropriate and productive. Often this latter feature is done with a “P.S.” which is now the most read portion of the average letter.
We misjudge our readership when we assume that they value our appreciation of them in direct proportion to the
length of our correspondence. The exact opposite is generally the case. Busy persons respond better to brief, direct mail.
Most executives find it helpful to handle their correspondence the first thing in the morning. It not only allows their secretaries to finalize it before the afternoon mail goes out but also relieves the mental anxiety of needing to get to that task throughout the day.
Time studies have shown the most expensive ways to originate a letter are in this order: handwrite the letter and
have it typed; let the stenographer take it in shorthand and transcribe it; put your message on dictating equipment at your leisure and have it transcribed at the leisure of the stenographer. If you are an organization with as many as five
persons initiating correspondence, you should look into more sophisticated systems of word processing.
Since the cost of sending the average business letter has now reached over five dollars a letter, we should be careful
of the way we use this communication device for both the economy of time and money.
5. Drop-in visits to your office seem to have a double or nothing consequence to them. Both helpful and distracting.
You can neither close the door forever nor can you continually have the open door. A closed door with a sign on the
doorknob saying, “Please interrupt,” may be a good compromise.
Give your secretary specific instructions concerning how to treat visitors and incoming phone calls. Most callers
understand the need for occasional privacy or conferences. When visitors come without an appointment, they should expect some delay or that you might not be in the office that day. Your secretary can then make a specific appointment for them at a later date.
Once your guest is in the office, his mission will determine how long you can comfortably talk with him (as compared to what you had planned to do with that time.) Your seat placement and body language will give him some hint as to
your availability. Sitting across the desk indicates formality and strictly business. Using straight chairs is emblematic of brevity. Overstuffed furniture is an invitation for informal, casual, and unhurried conversation. When you put your feet on the table, your guest knows that you have plenty of time. When you sit on the edge of your chair, he knows your time is limited and so is his.
Interoffice conversation is tricky at this point. Some managers think it is a status symbol to have associates come to
their office. Maybe it is. It is also a potential time-waster. An American business proverb could be, “He that goes into another’s office has the advantage of choosing when to leave.”
Obviously, there are exceptions. Do you want to use your time effectively? It is up to you. The hourglass grins as it
prophesies: “Pay me now, or pay me later.”
6. Meetings. Meetings. Meetings. There are those that are effective, ineffective, and those that the boss calls, and
who is to say. But like so many other time traps, they can be helpful. You are the one to decide, especially if you are the supervisor. Try these suggestions for better meetings.
1. Write down the purpose of the meeting and expected results.
2. Determine who would profit the meeting with their attendance.
3. Establish a proposed agenda. Share it in advance with those who will be invited for their input and preparation.
4. Have your secretary verify that contributing members will be available at the time set. Change time, if possible,
to get full participation.
5. Start on time.
6. Accept all input and have it recorded by someone other than yourself. You cannot moderate and take minutes at the same time.
7. Ask, and expect, divergent opinions. Why else did you need a meeting? Determine the intensity of the divergency.
8. Look for alternatives.
9. Give a full explanation as necessary.
10. Have necessary research done in advance.
11. Review actions taken at the meeting prior to adjourning, noting assigned responsibility.
12. Note time of any future deadlines or meetings.
13. Adjourn on time.
Some of the best meetings are stand-up meetings. Some of the most productive are three-day retreats. A meeting’s
importance and urgency determines the length.
If the meeting was called to find group consensus, then keep moving until you feel you have it. If its purpose was for
information for your ultimate decision, let that be known at the outset. Remember a management decision long delayed is one cause of a morale problem.
When evaluating your meeting (always an important aspect of managing), consider what can be accomplished in
seventy minutes. President Carter asked several denominational executives for lunch at the White House. He hosted the meal, engaged in proper interpersonal conversation, proposed a massive volunteer missionary movement among Southern Baptists, received enthusiastic support of the autonomously related agencies, and told everyone good-bye, all in seventy minutes.
7. Cluttered desks may give the appearance of being over-worked. More than likely they indicate underorganization.
An immaculately clean desk can be just as deceiving. Anyone can stuff the papers into empty drawers and closets five minutes before your arrival. Consider these practical suggetions.
* Use the traditional “incoming” and “outgoing” boxes. Be sure you at least look at all material in the incoming box prior to leaving for the day. Ask your secretary to remove all material from the outgoing box in time for the afternoon mail.
Make a notation on anything that needs urgent handling.
* Reserve certain portions of your desk for papers that fall into the following classifications: (A) Letters to be
answered. (B) Matters to be discussed with persons in the organization. (C) Matters that you must handle that day and those that can be handled later. (D) Material that you want to read sometime in the future.
* Use your wastebasket frequently. If in doubt, put the matter in the pile to be looked at later; it usually will be
delayed one day getting to the round file.
Try to handle most paperwork only once. It takes time to read and get the essence of the material. A second handling
wastes time. When in doubt, make a penciled note concerning the decision to be made later.
Keep memos as infrequent and brief as possible. But they are an indispensable interoffice communication time-saver. They help you get the message on paper when it is convenient to you and allows the reader to read it at his convenience. Take caution to avoid using memos to avoid face-to-face conversation. Alienation is sure to follow.
A Case Study
Jack Lawson had completed his seminary training and had profitably pursued a year’s graduate training in pastoral and interpersonal relationships. He was well-liked by his peers and he liked other persons. He was one of those unusual people who genuinely likes everyone.
Upon accepting the leadership of his second church, he felt that his objective would be helping that church grow
spiritually and physically. A second objective was the establishing of a mission church in a contiguous community.
Jack began by gaining church and community-at-large acceptance. He was visible in public places, attended civic
meetings, and supported community projects. Similarly, he regularly visited the sick, the bereaved, the depressed, the unsaved, the unenlisted, you name them, and he had ministered to their needs.
The church showed an immediate response to such care and concern. After a year or so, the church’s growth seemed to plateau. Jack redoubled his time for people. Always available to talk with people at their convenience and for the duration of their pleasure. No doubt about it, Jack was a popular pastor and community personality.
After another year, the plateau was still laid out on a straight line. When he reassessed his objectives, it became
apparent that some adjustments were needed. Jack and his family took a few days off his regular work schedule. His rationale was that he was not getting the job done working seventy hours a week, so what would a few days in planning matter?
If you are not succeeding in goal achievement, it is only a matter of the degree of your failure. Why not risk a few days for reflection and planning?
With time at an abundance and distractions at a minimum, he began to reflect on his ministry of three years. Acceptance? Yes! Objective reached? No! Failure as a minister? No!
Reappraisal of objective? Confirmed! Then what changes in his use of time should be made? Heretofore, there was no time to plan with the deacons and church school leadership regarding church growth. While he engaged in an abundance of personal visitation, he did not take the lead in a churchwide program of enlistment. When he tried to be factual in determining how he utilized his time week-by-week, he found he did not have the information. The minivacation ended with the decision to make a time study of his activities over a period of two months.
The results validated his suspicions. He was not using his time to accomplish what he had set out to do. What could he do to get back on the track? He listed everything he thought he needed to do each week and the amount of time normally taken for that activity. It totaled 125 hours.
Obviously, some priority needed to be set to reduce the activities to some reasonable time frame. He reassessed the time he would allow for certain actions based upon his objective. Hard decisions. Some of the things he enjoyed doing most were drastically reduced. Some eliminated.
His calendar was reordered appropriately.
One year later he reevaluated his objectives, his time utilization, and his calendar for the next year. He was happier
for he was attaining some portions of the objective he had sought. His family was happier for they were included in his priority schedule. The church was happier for they found more joy in the growth of the church than in their abundant interpersonal relations with the pastor.