One of the toughest things to do in ministry, or in any occupation for that matter, is managing your time. In youth ministry, this brings about a great deal of challenges! It is easy to get tangled up in youth videos, surfing the net, looking at every student in your communities photos and facebook profiles, tweeting, blogging (hence, still read my blog), programming, fun, etc. It is very easy to do some of these things, and not get a lot done at the end of the day! Also, it is very easy to neglect your family, and this is a big NO-NO! Here are a few tips on how to manage your time effectively:
- Focus on your relationship with Jesus above all – This is a no brainer, but it gets overlooked when you are dead tired from the night before with students and you sleep in and miss your quiet time with the one who created you. He can be overlooked in our ministries, and we can be all about doing, and forget about being, and being starts with your relationship with Jesus!
- Plan a family night each week – This is vital and crucial to the success of your student ministry. We always use the cliche, “God, family, ministry;” and there is a great deal of truth in this, but do we live it? This is where it gets real. Do we actually live that cliche, or is it just a cliche for you? By the way if your relationship with Jesus is what it is supposed to be, this cliche will fall right into place. Each week, you need a family night to keep your family healthy, and to prove to your family that you mean and believe that cliche. Some people believe that you need an actual date night each week, and for me, this means going out somewhere nice for dinner and maybe a movie. This is nice, and for sure you should do this, but with my family, we cannot always afford or practically pull this off. so, we make sure that we as a family are together for an evening of the week in our home together. We will eat dinner together and watch television together. Make sure you have time for your family regularly.
- Prioritize your “To Do” List – Each week, I would encourage you to look at your calendar and what you must get done. Analyze when and what needs to be done. Then, put it all together, and actually prioritize your list. Put what is the most important on top, and what is the least important on the bottom. Then, start from the top and work your way down. If you do not do this, you will find yourself doing the things on the bottom of the list when you must get the things at the top of your list completed first. I would encourage you to schedule some sit and think time to analyze your schedule.
- Turn off emails and forward phone calls when working on “top” priorities – This is very tough to do for me. You may not have the ability or staff to forward your calls, but if you do, use it, and do not be afraid of it. Sometimes, we feel that we must answer every phone call, text, or email right away, but this is not the case at all! You must get your priorities completed, and then if you have time, answer your calls and emails.
- Limit facebook usage – Now, I may be the only one who struggles with this, but I can look at a student’s profile for a long period of time. Sometimes, ministry calls for this, but not every day for an hour. It can be a waste of time, or it can be a huge asset to your ministry. Learn to use this for ministry. I have learned not to look at profiles or pictures, but primarily use facebook for groups, events, and for messaging.
- Take the last 15 minutes of your day to think about tomorrow’s schedule! This will help a lot. This will motivate you and organize you ahead of time for the day ahead. It also helps you to remember things on time. For example, I have forgotten meetings when not looking at the next day.
- Communicate with great clarity – Now, this is obvious, but if you actually stop and think about it, how many times do we have to re-communicate things to our leaders, parents, and students? Now, in student ministry, you may be doing this, and still the students are clueless as to what is going on, but make sure it is getting communicated correctly. If you answer all of the questions people may have up front, you will eliminate phone calls, text messages, emails, etc of people re asking the exact same questions that you explained.
- Learn to say NO – This is the toughest thing for student pastor’s in my opinion. Well, some have no difficulty in this area, but I am naturally a passive person. Honestly, I love pleasing people. My heart would much rather someone else get their way than me so that they can be happy. This is a really cool characteristic, but I can be a pushover sometimes. I struggle saying No, and it burns me out. If you are going to manage your time effectively, you must learn to say No regularly. Say NO to picking up students, hanging out, lunch appointments, etc. You have to do this so that you can manage your time with Jesus, time with family, and your student ministry effectively.
- Take a vacation – Make sure you schedule a family vacation. This goes along with number 2 on this list, but it is important. This will throw you for a loop, but try to schedule your vacation before the ministry calendar. Try not to dictate your vacation upon the ministry, but dictate the ministry calendar upon your vacation.
- Use your schedule – Do not go to the office every day without a plan! This will kill your time. I used to do this, and would hardly get anything done, and found myself working at the house last-minute on ministry stuff. Go to work knowing what your tasks are, and plan the means of accomplishing those tasks.
Managing your time can be a very difficult thing to do, but it is a “must” do. If you do not have respect for your time, no one else will either. If you have any other thoughts on this, let me know. I encourage your feedback. Also, there are many good seminars and podcast for you to learn more about managing your time.