When the personal interrupts what’s primary

Effective leaders consistently focus on what’s most important. For a pastor staying focused on the primary aim of ministry can be particularly challenging. One consistent interruption for a pastor is in the form of personal interactions and relationships with church members.

These breaks come in the form of phone calls, text messages, emails, and office drop-ins. To help handle the tension of preparing to preach and responding to the needs of the church here are three tips to consider:

1. Schedule what’s important in advance of your week.

Before the week begins, mark out space on your calendar to do the things that are primary for your role and ministry.

Dedicate empty your space in your schedule to handle the things you didn’t anticipate.

Schedule time to manage email, text messages, and social media each day. Instead of responding all day long, take time two or three times a day to empty your email box, reply to text messages, and post to social media. If possible consider using a third party app, like Hootesuite, that will let you schedule your social media posts for the day.

2. Communicate your calendar to those who support you in your ministry

Regardless of your ministry, there are those who help you and serve alongside you. Let them know when you have dedicated time to pray and study. Allow them to help with the needs that occur during that time.

Communicate clearly to your support team what situations warrant interrupting you. (Deaths, emergencies, specific people- like your wife, etc.)

Examples: Family, other staff, church leaders, and assistants

3. Stick to the plan

Don’t give in the first day to the tyranny of the urgent! Stay the course, over time the reward of a routine and rhythm will benefit the congregation more than answering that email right now.

Don’t buy into the myth of multi-tasking. No one is effective when they are distracted, instead, focus on one thing at a time. This means you won’t get as much done in one day, but what you get done will be done well each day.

Remember that by focusing on what is primary; you are making yourself more effective at handling what is personal. You can be present in the moment with people and not worried about when you are going to get back to your sermon preparation.