I’ll Just Do It Myself!
I recently heard two very conflicting statements from pastors. One pastor told me “I literally sit at my desk when I walk into my office and I have no idea what to do.” The other pastor said, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.” While you may not be able to completely identify with either of those pastors, you can probably find yourself somewhere between those two extremes. The big question everyone seems to always have is, “What is the best use of my time?”
I am constantly reaching out to pastors and leaders who consult with me in an effort to make me better in the area of leadership. One of those mentors pulled no punches with me when he said, “Anthony, you’ll never go to the next level of leadership until you learn to do the things that matter most.” He was right. I was spending so much of my time doing lots great things, but in turn I wasn’t doing everything that great. Many were tasks that other leaders could handle, but instead I just kept piling it all on my plate.
I love to create things like Web sites, new sermon graphics, videos and print media. I could honestly spend hours a week on one video that would take up about 2 minutes of time during a service on Sunday. My point? Just because your time is productive doesn’t mean it is profitable. Sure, it was a kicking video, but it’s possible my sermon could have been much more effective if I had spent a lot that time preparing to deliver God’s Word.
“But Anthony, It’s just easier to do it myself.” Yep, I used to say that a lot. It was easier to do everything on my own. I didn’t have to worry if it would get done on time or the way I wanted if I just did it myself. Ultimately, this means I robbed others of the chance to use their unique God-given abilities. I sacrificed quality in the areas that mattered most to God because I had too much pride to let go of the things that mattered to me.
Here’s another powerful lesson that I have learned: “I must spend my time on the things that will produce the largest impact.” Sermon graphics are great but they certainly aren’t more important than the content they represent! I only have a certain number of hours in a week and I must concentrate my time on tasks that will be most effective and that only I can accomplish. As I wrote down every task that I complete on any given week, I began to realize there were a lot of responsibilities I could give away that would allow me to concentrate more on the things that matter most. It also gave me the chance to mentor other leaders and cultivate the gifts and ministries that God has placed in the hearts of people around me.
As I spent time praying and asking God to clarify the things in my life that I must concentrate on as a pastor, I kept coming back to these main aspects of my calling that I CANNOT delegate.
Preach the Word
2 Timothy 4:2 (NLT) – “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.”
As a pastor and leader of our congregation, the most important thing that I can do is preach the Word. However, standing in front of the congregation and delivering the message is the easy part. Preaching the Word also means praying and spending time in Scripture to be able to effectively present the message that points people to Jesus. People often ask me if I get nervous when I speak after all these years. The answer is unequivocally YES! I am scared to death, but maybe not for the reasons you think. I have no issue with public speaking. I don’t get nervous talking in front of a crowd. I actually love it and it gives me incredible amounts of energy (and I don’t even have to picture anyone in their underwear!) I do, however, have an overwhelming fear that what I say will not be life-changing. I want every message that I speak to be powerful and effective for the Kingdom. If I’ve not allowed myself time to adequately prepare that message, it won’t be. (And in case you are wondering, waiting until Saturday night to decide what you are going to preach is not adequate time to prepare!)
Cast a Clear Vision
Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) – “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
The leader of a church or any type of organization must be able to cast vision clearly and rally people around that vision. That takes tremendous amounts of time and energy. It’s wonderful that you have a dream and burden, but if you don’t know how to share your God-given dream, it will likely never be fulfilled.
We must strive to strategically get that vision into the DNA of people in our congregation, which means we cast clear vision effectively and often. Saying it one time in one particular way doesn’t cut it. You must say it constantly and communicate it in as many ways as possible. One person said, “Just about the time you get sick of saying it is about the time when others start to get it.”
2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT) – “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”
In other words, God has not called you to do it all…He simply called you to get it done! You don’t have to know how to do everything; you simply must surround yourself with a great team!
Now, that doesn’t mean you start dumping tasks onto the shoulders of people who aren’t prepared. It does mean that you slowly begin to train and release responsibility and authority to faithful people. Willie George says, “Delegation without definition is a disaster.” When you define the responsibility and release people to operate within their gifts of ministry, amazing things begin to happen. As John Maxwell says, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”
If you ever find yourself feeling a bit arrogant or filled with pride as I am at times, you may have even had this thought, “Nobody can do it better than I can.” First of all, that’s a lie you are telling yourself. You probably aren’t as good as you think you are and when you begin to release some areas of ministry that may be a startling discovery. However, if it is true, just because you are the best at something doesn’t mean you should be doing it. It is often said that the enemy of GREAT things are GOOD things. That responsibility that is consuming your time may be a good thing. The problem is that it’s keeping you from doing the GREAT things. Remember, largest impact in the smallest amount of time. There is a simple concept that I learned in my early days of leadership, but it still rings true today. You must keep the MAIN thing the MAIN thing – with everyone working by this principle as it applies to their God-given calling, your ministry as well as your team’s will be unstoppable!