In the late '70s Bachman-Turner Overdrive bemoaned the woes of crowded schedules and heavy workloads with the hit song "Takin' Care of Business." The tune has resurfaced lately as a cultural mantra, mainly because it addresses an issue with which most of us struggle: controlling our calendars. As ministers, there's always another phone call to make, meeting to attend or issue to resolve. Consequently, one of the most important things we can do is to learn the art of scheduling our lives.
Obviously, life can never be programmed or fit into a nice, orderly package. But many of the stresses that cause us angst can be reduced or eliminated by simply developing better scheduling and planning skills. Here are a few suggestions for easing the load.
1. Develop your life according to a plan. God is a god of schedule. His first act recorded in Scripture was creation, which reveals to us that He is a god of order and purpose. He didn't try to accomplish everything in one day, and neither should you. God had an agenda for certain times of the day (e.g., evening and morning). He scheduled the seasons—an indication that certain things were to happen at certain times.
Have you learned to schedule? Revisit Ecclesiastes 3:1. Don't be bound by a schedule; just begin to use one and take charge of it.
2. Schedule routine into your life. To develop a routine means you learn to follow the same pattern frequently. It literally means to walk the same path regularly. Everyone needs some degree of healthy routine.
Discipline and healthy habits are the beginning point. Healthy habits, when followed persistently, become routines. Routine keeps you from becoming unbalanced in your life. Most of us get caught up in the activities we enjoy and shun the less desirable ones. Routine prevents this from happening. Learn to schedule important events into your life until they become routine. Daniel practiced this principle by praying three times a day until it became his custom—his routine (see Dan. 6:9).
3. Get comfortable periodically using the word no. Leadership is demanding and requires huge amounts of time and effort. But no one is called to do it all. Leaders must learn to examine their commitments regularly and adjust according to godly principles. I'm not talking about a resignation of duty or responsibility, but rather learning to say no to too many extracurricular activities. Have you learned to say no without feeling guilty, or are you strictly a yes person?
4. Limit your time-wasters. Unfortunately, all of us have "time-wasters" integrated into our lives. From sunup to sundown, gidgets and gadgets beg for our attention. If we could name the big three time-wasters, they would probably be: high-tech innovation (e.g., Internet, TV and other electronic gadgets); excessive attention to hobbies (I'm not saying hobbies are bad); and disorganization. Wasted time can never be recouped. You have to guard your time.
Based on these tips, how are you "takin' care of business"? The song may be 30 years old, but it still seems to fit, doesn't it? As leaders, we must have a plan to deal with the crowded schedule that forever shows up in our planners. It won't just go away on its own.
Becoming a more effective minister begins with controlling your own life. You must be intentional with the way you schedule your personal and public life. Why not start today?
A certified professional coach and trainer, John Chasteen is also the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Okla. You can read his blog at heycoachjohn.com.