Moment of truth–pastors are not always known for being the most organized. In a highly relational career, other strengths take priority, and pastors can go years without really gaining a sense of an organized rhythm in their jobs. Pretty soon, all hope for a healthy rhythm can feel like it is lost. 

What level of organization do you feel in your job? While it’s easy to joke about how “crazy” our work lives are when we go from meeting to meeting, sermon to sermon, week after week…it’s not healthy, and it’s not sustainable. 

What action are you willing to take toward a healthier outcome?

We’d like to offer three practices you can strategize with your team to get to a place of health and organization. It will take some effort. It won’t be initially easy–because it’s fighting against the pace of our culture–but it will provide you with tools to prevent burnout.

  1. Evaluate your organizational priorities. This is a crucial first step toward organization in your work life. Everyone has an idea of what the budget should go toward, what the theme is for Christmas, what outreach projects you’re spending time on, etc., etc. The rabbit trails lead far and wide! If you’re not grounded in an understanding of your priorities as a church or a team, you will get lost in all the good ideas. Pastors, you cannot accomplish every good idea. You need to prioritize what your mission is. This leads to an important reality in your job–saying no when even a good idea is not a part of the mission God is calling you to. Your leadership includes seeking God for wisdom and discernment in the focus He has for your church. Spreading your priorities too wide makes for an all-around weak ministry. 

    Key questions to ask in this practice:
    – How much time have we spent praying for direction?
    – Who can we meet with to narrow our priorities?
    – Is anyone feeling burnt out? Why?

  2. Make a plan. This is not a joke. It’s not a simplified step. It’s a key component of ministry that many pastors devalue when they either neglect to make a plan or have too many plans. Make one plan. And make sure your staff and key leaders are aware of the plan. Communication is integral throughout this practice. Much of the disorganization in churches comes from the leader not clearly communicating the plan! To be clear, this “plan” comes directly from your previous practice of clarifying your values and direction. The plan will help implement the practical ways your priorities come to fruition.

    Examples of organizational plans:
    – Revamping how and why you call meetings as a team.
    – Sticking to a regular flow of communication with your staff.
    – Allowing your assistant to set a practical schedule for you.

  3. Stick to the plan. It needs to be said. When you think about it practically, a plan is nice, but it means nothing unless you act on it. It’s too easy to resort to the excuse of ministry being too this or too that for you to stick to the plan you’ve committed to. Pastors, it’s time to commit to a sustainable way of ministry. While you may feel heroic in the moment of meeting all needs at any time of day in ways that leave you feeling like “work is crazy,” you’re actually setting yourself up for a short sprint in ministry. Prepare like you would for a marathon instead. 

    Key reminders for sticking to your plan:
    – Empower someone to keep you accountable to the plan you’ve made.
    – Check your attitude before beginning.
    – You have a chance to set a healthy precedent in your workplace, and for your team. 

Don’t settle for disorganization within your ministry. It’s not doing anyone any good. And it’s not setting the tone for healthy outcomes. Try these steps and see if you can break the cycle of “crazy.” Maybe the next time someone asks you “how work is,” you can answer honestly by saying, “It’s refreshing! I’m setting my team up for a manageable pace!”