Are you busy?
As I interact with children’s ministry leaders I am constantly confronted with the idea of “busy-ness”. There’s a lot to do in children’s ministry! In fact, I would challenge you to find a ministry department that manages more details than children’s ministry.
But we, the leaders of children’s ministry, should rarely find ourselves consumed with busy-ness. Of course there are times when many things just have to get done and we are overly busy. But these should be the exception, not the rule. In my experience with children’s ministry leaders all over the country, it’s often the opposite.
The problem is, when we are constantly busy we cannot do some of the more critical part of our job very well, like:
- Spend the quality time necessary in our relationship with God (which our ministry ought to flow from);
- Give necessary attention to
building relationships with people in our ministry (and we know that ministry always happens best in the context of relationships);
- Focus on equipping others to do the ministry and developing leaders for greater ministry (this leads us to doing too many things ourselves);
- Provide the important time our family needs from us (which will eventually destroy our ministry if left unchecked);
- Prevent us from leading into the vision we have for the future of our ministry (leaving it stagnant, uninspired and ineffective).
So how do you beat “busy-ness”? Here are 3 practices that have helped me overcome my tendency toward busy-ness:
1. Define what only you can do and do it.
As the leader of your ministry, doing “what only you can do” should make up a large part of your regular work. Typically, the larger the church the more you focus on what only you can do. But this is important regardless of church size. To do this:
- Schedule time to do your work. Wherever and whenever you work best, put this time in your calendar and do everything you can to keep it from being interrupted.
- Stop multi-tasking as a habit. It doesn’t work. A narrow focus will produce greater productivity.
- Choose a task management system and stick to it. There are many available, but the important thing is finding one and making it work for you.
2. Identify what’s important but can be done by others and delegate.
You can’t do everything, and there’s still going to be important things to do aside from “what only you can do”. Here’s how I identify these things and manage them:
- Ask “what needs to be done that’s important?” Make that list.
- Ask “who besides me can get this done?” This list might include more than one person.
- Ask “how can I support them in this task without it getting put back onto my to-do list?” This might be connecting them with others, providing the necessary resources or simply taking the time initially to equip them.
- Ask “when should this be completed?” And create a system of accountability to follow up (this might be as simple as putting a reminder in your calendar to call them on a specific date).
- Additionally: assure them that you are available if they need you; allow them to do things their own way, even if it’s different than how you would do it; avoid circling back and once again taking on the responsibility yourself.
3. Eliminate and forget about tasks you shouldn’t be worrying about.
This doesn’t mean that other things still don’t need to be done. But stop taking on the responsibility of doing them yourself! This can be done by:
- Reviewing how you spend your time and your to-do list and eliminating those things that are unimportant
- Creating a list of things that you can completely hand off (and forget about) but still need to be done and handing it off via step #2…let someone else figure out how they’ll get done.
When you’ve done these 3 things, start back at #1.
Most of us have a tendency to continue taking on things that we don’t need to take on, which is how we get back to the unwanted state of “busy-ness” all over again.
You can’t accomplish all this overnight – it takes practice – but if you adopt the mindset that includes these ideas, very quickly you will be focused on the things that are most important to your role.
When you beat busy-ness like this, you will be amazed at how much more you get done and how much more effective you are as a leader.
PS. Here’s a few things which I believe should NOT be on the Children’s Ministry leaders’ weekly to-do list (be willing to do these and available if needed, but they should not fall to you as a matter of practice):
- Managing the curriculum order (yes, I said managing the curriculum order – someone else can do it!).
- Managing the resource room, crafts supplies or anything else along these lines.
- You also should not be preparing or distributing the weekly classroom supplies.
- Counting kids & tracking attendance.
- Cleaning bathrooms, classrooms or nursery toys, or vacuuming the lobby.
- Managing the media for your ministry.