So Much to Do, So Little Time
Since it’s a new year, you likely have new goals and new ideas. Or, maybe you’re stressing about last year’s goals that you still haven’t gotten to. I know, if only you had enough volunteers, you could get it all done. Maybe it’s time for a different approach.
Here are three questions, as well as suggested action steps, to help you manage the stress of “getting it all done.”
1. Are all the goals, tasks, or projects on my list absolutely essential?
We tend to do a lot of things just because we always have done them. But not everything is necessary or even useful. Ask yourself these strategic questions to determine on what goals, tasks, or projects you should focus.
- How does this goal, task, or project align with our vision and strategy? Does it add to or distract from our vision and strategy?
- Does it need to be done now?
- Is this something I have to do? (We’ll address this question further in the next section.)
Action Steps: Place these four headings on a notepad: “Mission-Critical,” “Time-Sensitive,” “Cut,” “Parking Lot [place on hold].” Then list each goal, task, and project under the appropriate heading. Keep your focus on those items listed under the first two columns.
2. What is it that only I can do?
This is a question I ask myself and my team on a regular basis, especially during those times when I feel overwhelmed. As leaders we need to figure out what tasks we should be doing at our level of leadership, and then ask, “What can I delegate to someone else?”
Action Steps: List everything you do; highlight the things that only you can do; and then list those things someone else can do.
You may say, “I don’t have anyone to delegate to.” We’ll address this issue next.
3. Who’s on our team?
So now you’ve narrowed your focus to essential tasks that only you can do. The next question is: “Who does everything else?” Let’s dig into this a bit by looking at Jesus’ leadership development approach.
When Jesus first called his 12 disciples, He told them to drop everything and follow Him. Among the 12, Jesus had an especially close relationship with Peter, James, and John. (You could say that they were His inner circle.) These three walked with Him during some of His most intimate times of ministry, including His transfiguration. Beyond the 12, Jesus later sent out 72 others to minister in towns to which He would be going. He devoted himself first to the 3, then the 12, and then the 72—they would be the next generation of leadership when He ascended into heaven.
Here’s your leadership reality:
- You need a leadership team—you cannot do it alone.
- You cannot invest in everyone at the same level.
- You must identify your “3” as well as your “12” and invest in them accordingly.
The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders. ― “Courageous Leadership: Field-Tested Strategy for the 360° Leader”
In the quote above, Bill Hybels recognizes that the outcome of redemptive work on earth will be determined by how well church leaders lead.
Will the men and women who have been entrusted with leadership gifts take their gifts seriously, develop them fully, and deploy them courageously so that the willing and gifted believers in their churches can work together to make a difference in the world? ― “Courageous Leadership: Field-Tested Strategy for the 360° Leader”
This quote starts with a clear vision, which we share repeatedly with our leaders. Why? Vision leaks, and our leaders who understand and are passionate about the vision will be its best carriers.
Don’t make the mistake of investing in leaders purely for your benefit and that of the ministry. Invest in leaders because it is the right thing to do; they will step into the role to which God is calling them. Invest in leaders for the sake of leadership development, not to fill the gap you have in your ministry. I’m not saying don’t invite people into leadership positions; do that, but have more potential leaders that you invest in for the sake of leadership development. This investment will bear fruit in the Kingdom, and probably in your ministry too.
Final Action Steps:
• Clarify and record the vision and strategy that forms the basis of your ministry.
• Plan how you will share vision with your leaders.
• Identify those on your leadership team. “Who are my 3 and my 12?”
• Identify whom you many need to add to your team.
• Create a plan for how to invest in your leaders.
If you take the time to answer the three questions and formulate a plan to implement, chances are your level of stress decrease, your ministry will become more focused, and you will have people around you who are in step with you and the vision to which God has called you.
So what are you waiting for? Go do what only you can do.