The world is just waking up to Christmas and grumbling about receiving the first card, but you’ve been living it for months. When did you start focussing on it? June, probably, before the schools broke up and you could get the muso’s together.
Planning well ahead is one of the secrets to feeling that you’re not out of control in your life and ministry, so it’s worth identifying now two golden, secret periods. I guard these jealously.
1 Just after Christmas and into the new year. This is especially true if you’re an assistant minister who probably works that first week anyway as your boss is away.
Here’s the secret. No one wants to see you. Funeral directors try to avoid funerals round then. Hospitals postpone operations. People travel to see their families. Even keen Christians have had their fill of you.
So what do you do if you’re working then? Get a great roll of black bin liners and go through every file in your filing cabinet to chuck out everything you don’t need. Every single one. For all that you’ve tried to go paper free it’s still in there, clogging up your system (Panicky? Obsessive? Then register with Evernote, scan everything, and then chuck it). And loose bits of paper all over your study will make you inefficient. I know. I’m preaching to myself here.
Use that week to get on top of the piling system.
2. This one takes more planning, but put in the diary two or three days in June, before the holidays start, when you can start to think and pray over the next calendar year (yup, looking 18 months ahead). Arrange now that you won’t preach, or speak at anything in the Sunday following so that you can have a clear head.
Take a decent diary (paper or electronic), Bible, loads of writing materials (ditto) and try to be a responsible steward and pastor. Thinking through the preaching, training, evangelism needs of the church, and work out how you’ll fit them in. Bible overview, doctrine classes – put them in first and let the small stuff settle round them.
If you’re in a team go with others, but in my experience this takes a lot of solo thought and prayer.
Don’t blow money on it- at that time of year you can take a comfortable chair into a nearby park and no-one will bat an eyelid.
But you’ll need to put in in now, before you get asked to lead that Wednesday meeting.
And leave your mobile at home.
What’s best next? by Matt Perman. The best book on stewarding your time and energy as a Christian.
Getting Things Done, by David Allen. He may be a secular Buddhist, but if he can get me organised he can do it for anyone
For June: whichever book on church jazzes you up and challenges you at the moment. Even better, re-read it before you go to get the juices flowing.