Friday, February 6, 2009

I'm Re-establishing Boundaries for Myself

The last two years have been about the craziest years of my life. This last year, 2008, has been probably the busiest and most awesome year of PCC’s history. Needless to say, we are thriving and on an upwards swing. We are going to the next level. It almost couldn’t be any better at PCC right now – except for me. I realize that my schedule and time-management has gotten out of balance.

Things have been so busy for me with too much to do that I have worn myself thin. There is no way to sustain this pace any longer, so I have come to a decision.

I’ve seen a lot of church people crash and burn – pastors too. Many pastors are ineffective in their ministry because they are doing too much, aren’t taking care of themselves, and have not set up boundaries. They try to be supermen, attend every event, take every call, fix every problem, and counsel every crisis. In the process they end up burning out and losing touch with themselves and their families. I refuse to allow that to happen.

I thought I’d share with you some decisions I'm making in order to re-claim my life:

I’m admitting to myself that I am spread too thin. I don’t have to do it all, and won’t attempt to do so. Some things can be done without me. If we can’t find the volunteers or hire the staff to get it done, it will simply go undone.

I’m maintaining regular exercise. I sleep better, feel better, have more energy, and think more clearly when I’m in top shape. I’m in good shape now, but it could be better. I’m sticking with it and taking it up a notch. Besides, America already has enough fat preachers with heart disease who live short lives.

I’m protecting my Bible time and prayer with ferocity. It’s easy to allow other things in my schedule to crowd this one out and I have to fight hard against it. Most of you know I maintain a prayer journal where I record my prayer requests or reflections from the scriptures – and what this does to strengthen me I cannot fully express. But there is a constant tension between my quiet time and office duties, phone calls, mini-emergencies with people, and a bunch of other stuff that needs to be done. It’s like a conspiracy of interruptions. If I have to get out of the office and go to the woods, then I will!

I need a personal assistant – Someone who will manage my schedule, take my calls, schedule appointments, run interference for me, and manage my e-mails. There is so much going on at PCC right now that I’m getting lost and drowning in the details. I’m a “big picture” kind of person and don’t have the time to micro manage.

I’m going to be saying “no” more often without feeling guilty for saying it. This is a matter of priorities. By saying “no” to some things I am saying a “bigger yes” to other things. I can’t approve every idea that’s suggested, say yes to every request, meet every expectation, answer every phone call, respond to every crisis, or answer every question that comes into our offices. As much as I hate it, I cannot personally connect to every person that attends PCC. I would love to accept every invitation, enter every persons home, and be at every birthday party. But I can’t. Between leading our staff, preparing messages each week, planning the weekend services, plus being a husband and father, my time is limited. This is EXACTLY WHY everyone at PCC needs to get plugged into a small group or ministry team so that you can have key connections.

I’m going to limit my evenings out at church-related events. Okay, I’m a firm believer that the most healthy thing a Christian can do is attend about two church-related events per week – those being the weekend services and a mid-week event (such as a small group, etc) – with an occasional extra meeting thrown in because of necessity. Two time slots is a healthy amount. But I’m doing about 5-6 church-related events each week in the evenings and it’s too much. I’m going to be paring back on the number of events I attend, maintaining a healthy limit. So don’t be offended if I don’t show up at your event – trust me, there are thirty-five others going on at the same time and I won’t be at theirs either.

It’s amazing how a few changes like this is empowering me to re-claim my life and get in touch with a person I left behind….. myself.

Comments are open....


Anonymous said...

Absolutely YOU NEED TO PROTECT your time with God, Family, and priorities! Good for you for recognizing it BEFORE it brings you down. Simply tell me (others) HOW we can help you make this happen. Many love you, our pastors, and our church but simply don't know how you'd like us to help. Just say the word, Pastor!

Anonymous said...

It's safe to say that the very FIRST thing our church family can do for its pastor is UPLIFT HIM IN PRAYER (and all your church leaders)on a regular basis. Not only does that provide a covering for your pastor, but having a REGULAR prayer life like that also keeps you, the church member, in a right relationship with Christ, and when we are in a right relationship with Christ we as a church are stronger and healthier and better able to carry out our mission together. It is true the demands of the ministry are GREAT, and very few will every fully understand what being in full-time ministry feels like - sometimes it is exhausting because you're in a spiritual FIGHT for people's lives every day, and I can tell you the enemy of our soul does NOT lay down on the job, and about the time you take one hill and feel you might get to relax a bit, another spiritual attack awaits on the horizon. And all this while also trying to manage everything that comes with family life.
How to help? (in addition to praying) When people, like orphanlady, come up to the church in the daytime and invest their time volunteering and working not only in the church, but also in preparation for their groups or classes, it sends a SIGNAL that we're in this TOGETHER, and when this happen, the load at the top feels lighter.

Carole said...

Is there anything I can do to help, I can come in one day a week.

Ron said...

Thank you for your offers to help. It's likely I can get back with you.