Youth Leaders and Time Management

By: Greg Bixby

The California coast was shrouded in fog that Fourth of July morning in 1952. Twenty-one miles to the west on Catalina Island a 34-year-old woman waded into the water and began swimming toward California, determined to be the first woman to do so. Her name was Florence Chadwick. She had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. The water was a numbing cold and the fog was so thick she could hardly see the escort boats. Several times, sharks had to be driven away with rifles to – protect the lone figure in the water. Fatigue had never been her big problem in these swims…it was the bone-chilling cold of the water.

More than fifteen hours later, numb with cold, she asked to be taken out. She couldn’t go on. Her mother and her trainer, in the boat alongside, told her the shore was near. They urged her not to quit, but when she looked toward the California coast, all she could see was the dense fog. She asked to be taken out. Hours later, when her body began to thaw, she felt the shock of failure. She had been pulled out only a half-mile from the California coast. A reporter asked, “What was it, Miss Chadwick, that kept you from swimming that 1last half mile?”

“It was the fog,” she replied. “If I could have seen land, I could have made it. When you’re out there swimming and you can’t see your goal, you lose all sense of progress and you begin to give up.” With no land in sight, her motivation was gone.

Let’s look at some ideas to help part time youth workers get out of the fog of “How do I find time to be a youth leader?” and into youth ministry.


“Time is life. To waste your time is to waste your life. To master your time is to master your life.”

An important step in taking control of your life is to set goals. Think of goals as a target. The bull’s eye is 100. The concentric rings are 80, 60, 40, and 20. If you aim for 100, you may only hit 80 or even 20. But if you don’t aim for 100, you will hit zero every time.

Make sure your goals are God’s goals. Spend time in the Word and in prayer. Be willing to conform to God’s plan for your life.

Write your goals. If it’s not in writing, then it’s not a goal. An unwritten desire is only a pipedream that will probably never happen. If it’s in writing, then it’s a commitment. Begin by making two lists. Answer these questions:

What are my long-term goals? (3-5 years)

What are my goals for the next six months?

As you answer these questions, let your imagination run free and be intuitive. Write fast and go for quantity. Hey, these lists are written on paper and not in stone! You will be able to scrutinize them a little

Make sure your goals are measurable in time and performance. Schedule completion. Be specific. If the goal is vague, then you can never becertain when you’ve arrived.

Be sure your goals are realistic. If you don’t believe that with God’s help you can achieve it, you won’t pay the price for it. Break the unreachable goal into subgoals. A good idea to help discover a subgoal
is to ask yourself this question: “What would be a good first step toward this Goal?”

Classify your goals. Listed below are four major categories that can be used to assist goal classifying. A great framework for goal setting is also suggested in Luke 2:52, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature,
and in favor with God and man.” There are few worthwhile goals in life that won’t fit into one of these spheres.

Increase in wisdom: Intellectual Increase in favor with God: Spiritual
Increase in stature: Physical Increase in favor with man: Social


1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
4. 4.
5. 5.
6. 6.


1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
4. 4.
5. 5.
6. 6.


Another step in taking control of your life is to evaluate your goals. As your life changes, so do your goals. Frequent re-evaluation of your goals insures that you spend time on the things that are important to
you. Once you have set your goals, ask yourself these questions:

1. Is this goal realistic?
2. What is required to accomplish this goal?
3. How much time will be necessary to accomplish this goal?
4. Do I have the ability to accomplish this goal?
5. Will achieving this goal help me feel the way I want to feel?
6. How does working for and reaching this goal affect other significant
people in my life?
7. What is the cost of this goal mentally, emotionally, physically and
8. How does this goal support and reflect my values?

Goal evaluation should be done in some form about every month. This gives you some time for achievement. It also catches areas you discovered were not really top priority. Perhaps your priorities with
the youth have changed due to some survey you took. It will take a few weeks to make the transition to good time organization. Don’t give up or get discouraged. The whole process is simple and well worth the initial time invested.

Let’s look at six reasons why people don’t make goals.

1. The fear of failure
2. Our unwillingness to hurt others
3. The dislike of your job
4. Love of trivia
5. Not having any goals
6. Because it takes time



Everyone operates under some kind of priority system. We may not have a list, but we can pinpoint them by asking three simple questions:

1. What am I anxious about?
2. How do I spend my time?
3. What do I buy with my money?

Jesus made it clear what His priorities were when he answered the lawyer concerning the great commandment. He gives us a hook for all our priorities to hang on. He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” His priorities were:

1. God is more important than people.
2. People are more important than things.

A widower who was trying to be both father and mother to his 12 year old girl felt he never had enough time with her. He was really looking forward to the Christmas vacation. He was disappointed when his daughter spent all her time, except for meals, in her room. Finally on Christmas morning, she presented her father with his present…a pair of hand knitted socks. “Daddy,” she said, “I was afraid I wouldn’t get them done in time! I’ve been working on them in my room. Do you like them?”

“Darling,” he replied, gathering her up in a big hug so she couldn’t see his tears, “Of course I do, they’re beautiful! Thank you very much.” But deep in his heart he was thinking how much more he wanted her time, attention and her love. He wanted to talk and to do things with his little girl. A case of good intentions, but wrong priorities!

Establish a Biblical priority system. Use this to test your goals. Everyone needs some sort of practical priority system by which you organize your lifestyle. If you don’t have a specific pattern, give this one a try.

A. God (Matthew 22:36-38)

B. People (Matthew 22:39-40)

1. Immediate family (1 Timothy 5:8)

a. Spouse (Ephesians 5:21-22, 25)
b, Children (Ephesians 6:4)

2. Family of God (John 13:35)

3. Non-Christians (Galatians 6:10)

Set your goals in the order of your priorities. Use the following guide to divide your goals into three priority categories, A-B-C.

1. A – Items of high value to you
2. B – Items of medium value to you
3. C – Items of low value to you

Number the goals. In each priority category, number all the goals 1-2-3 according to their importance. When you have finished lettering and numbering your goals, go back to the four main areas of your life goals (Personal, Family, Career, Youth Ministry) and pick the six most important goals. Begin to work on these first.

Make a daily list of “Things To Do”. This list is the common denominator of successful people. They focus your attention on the activities you need to do to reach your goals. Remake and update your list daily.
Prioritize this activities list using the ABC method. Have only one list, using any style or form, but always write it down.

Start with your A activities and not your C’s. Many people spend time doing C’s because they’re easy and fast. So, you feel like you’re accomplishing something. Always remember the 80/20 Rule!

80% of everything in the world is a category C.

80% of the benefits come from 20% of the activities, so identify and concentrate on the 20% that is of the most value to you.

Sometimes we associate activity with accomplishment. Good time organization is getting more done in the allotted time. It is maximizing output for a given input. Work smarter not harder. We need the Lord’s
wisdom and strength to do this. Remember to pray for the mind of God in your ministry. Time spent with God is an investment and not a waste!

Do it now! Consider the real price tag of procrastination. Problems will usually escalate and the task seldom just goes away. A good cure for getting big or difficult jobs done is the “Swiss Cheese” method. Poke
holes in large jobs with “Instant Tasks”. These are tasks which take only five minutes, but keep the project moving. Do something, just get moving! You will discover the job wasn’t so difficult and you will develop momentum.


One very vital area for any part time youth leader to consider is his family. How can I make it working full time and being involved in youth ministry? Won’t my family suffer greatly? The key for your family is
QUALITY TIME. These are some tips that will help you be effective with your family:

A. Set aside one night each week as a family night. Don’t let anything  disturb this family time. Play games with the children. Go to the  park or nearby playground. Read books at home or go to the library.

B. Go away with your spouse for a romantic weekend once every six  months. Get a baby-sitter for the kids and have a good time just being together.

C. Plan a family vacation for a minimum of three days. Your trips don’t  have to be long or far away. Just being together and having fun will be remembered by your children for a long time.

D. Plan one day each month that you can spend with each of your children. Go for a donut breakfast, play dolls or army, go on a bike ride, go shopping at the mall, and give personal attention to each child. Make this day your child’s special day. If you can’t make a whole day of it, spend at least 4-6 hours alone with your child.

E. Listen intently and more often to your spouse and children. Perhaps mealtime could be used to greater advantage in this area.

If you have no children, then take advantage of this fact. You and yourspouse can begin by doing everything you can together. All your visitation, planning, ministry will be enhanced if your spouse shares
your burden for youth. Living, laughing, learning and enjoying same blessings of God together will be very fulfilling.


These are some ideas that have been gathered from many various people who have been successful in the youth ministry. Use what helps you, save what you don’t like until you do like it!

1. If your youth group is small, go in with other groups on things. Don’t be afraid to ask another group to some of your activities. This way you can pool resources and have a better activity.

2. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Delegate responsibility to others. Enlist the help of a few adult sponsors that love youth.

3. Meet at least monthly with your volunteer staff for prayer, training, and fellowship.

4. Prepare a good job description for yourself and stick to it!

5. When your time is limited, send your kids letters of affirmation. Buy or make a greeting card and let them know that you are thinking about them.

6. Say something positive to your teens. Compliment them whether alone in a group. This will build their self-esteem.

7. Always arrive early and stay late on youth night to get extra minutes to talk with your teens. You can also communicate with  parents at this time.

8. Don’t take yourself or your circumstances to seriously. Nothing is ever as good as you think it is. The flip side is, nothing is ever as bad as you think it is.

9. Set up a phone chain to spread the word about upcoming events.  Personal contact is the best method. Ten young people who could call  ten others will personally touch 100 teens in a night.

10. Take a couple days off to prepare for especially busy times during the year.

11. Start a file on each teen. Get family and personal information,  photos, vital statistics, and school records. This will help you get  to know the kids. You will be more effective in your counseling,  too.

12. Plan some early morning or late night activities. The kids will love  the adventure and intrigue. Scheduling conflicts will be at a  minimum.

13. Visit each young person in their home. Ask to see their bedroom.  Notice what they collect and display. This will give you insight  into what they’re thinking.

14. Get adults in your church to “adopt a teen”. Challenge them to  pray daily for their teen and get to know them better.

15. Communicate availability, even though you may be swamped with  work. Just a few minutes of your time let’s them know you really  care.

16. Use surveys and questionnaires to their best advantage. Find out  what young people are thinking and begin to meet their need. Don’t  waste several weeks trying to hit the mark.

17. Keep a fresh flow of creativity. Use brainstorming sessions and be  sure you don’t criticize any ideas. You can always weed out the  bad one later.

18. Develop good job descriptions for your volunteer leaders. This will  help them be most effective and feel less frustrated. You will feel  good too, because they will be getting the job done.

19. Observe your volunteer workers. Catch them doing something right and give them special recognition.

20. Set up a resource library for yourself. Don’t be afraid to get  some youth books. One idea alone can be worth more than the price of  the book.

21. Learn to say “No”. You must keep time for your family and personal interests. Jesus said no at times and there were many things he  could have done.

22. Attend a seminar or workshop on youth ministry every year.

23. Join or develop a youth worker’s fellowship for ideas sharing and  inspiration.

24. Keep your mind fresh. Subscribe to at least one youth ministry  periodical.
25. Don’t depend on immediate results to determines success or failure!  The harvest is at the end of the age, not at the end of your  meeting. Real results come later.

26. Plan several months in advance. This will give you time to prepare a great time for the teens. Don’t be afraid to use an idea in series.

27. Organize at least two retreats and or camping trips each year. This time together is worth a month of meetings.

28. Get away! Accept an invitation to visit another youth group. Turn your youth night over to your staff for one week. You will come home refreshed and with new vision.

29. Build relationships! Youth ministry is a relational ministry! Be people oriented, not program oriented!

30. Love God! Love your wife! Love your kids! Love your teens!


Maybe you’re saying, “Man, I’ve got this all together. I don’t need to think about managing my time. I do pretty well on my own.” Here are some tips from Gordon MacDonald to tell if you are organized or

1. Your desk takes on a cluttered appearance.

2. The condition of your car is dirty inside and out. You have lost track of the maintenance schedule as well.

3. You become aware of a lowering of your self esteem. You’re a little concerned that people think they aren’t getting their money’s worth from you.

4. You’re disorganized when there are a series of telephone messages you’ve not returned: series of forgotten appointments, and deadlines which you have begun to miss.

5. It’s overtaking you when you tend to invest your energies in unproductive tasks.

6. You begin to feel poorly about the work that you do accomplish.

7. Disorganized Christians rarely enjoy intimacy with God.

8. You’ve arrived when the quality of your personal relationships reveals it by becoming shallow. Maybe you don’t even have significant conversation with your children during the day.

9. When you are disorganized in your time, you just don’t like yourself, your job, or much else about your world.

Budgeting time is the key to being a husband, a father, an employee, a Christian, and a youth leader.

You can do it, but you better DO IT NOW!


Youth Pastor’s Handbook 110 Tips & Time-savers
Strang Communications Co. Youth Specialties
Altamonte Springs, Florida

Ordering your Private World Create In Me a Youth Ministry
Gordon MacDonald Ridge Burns
Oliver Nelson Pub. Victor Books

Brown Bag Seminars or material on time management by Alan Lakein would be very beneficial also.

(The original publisher of the above material is unknown.)

Christian Information Network