Those in leadership - small business owners, pastors, or CEOs of corporations - often find their lives out of balance. The demands of ministry, the competitiveness of business, your cell phone, blackberry, e-mail and other tools make it very difficult to get away and relax. Leaders often find their mind and body are in two different places. Their body is at the dinner table with family but their mind is on their ever growing “to do list".
It becomes easy to miss piano recitals, football games, or school plays. My dad, for instance, had a full-time job and also ran his own business. He was forever working. My mother would often tell him “Gene, do you have to work so much?" His response was always, “I'm working to make your life better. " One year, he worked extra hours to buy her a 25th anniversary present - the special dining room suite she wanted. She got the furniture, but my dad died three months shy of their anniversary. Mama often said she would trade the furniture for him in a heartbeat. My father was fulfilling what he saw as his role as provider, but he missed out on the more meaningful role of husband.
As a pastor or CEO, you are responsible for the lives of many people. So how do you keep a balanced perspective where the needs of your family (and personal time) are concerned? After all, Genesis 1:24 says “Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh. " It does not say, “. . . and shall cleave unto his wife and congregation/staff; and they shall all be one flesh. " Here are a few strategies to help you be more balanced:
- For everything you need to do, ask yourself this question “Am I the ONLY one who can do this?" Place all of the “No" items in one list and all of the “Yes" items in another. Delegate the “No" list (see #3). For example, if the decision at hand is a choice between going to pray for a sick church member, attend a meeting or go to your son's baseball game, the answer to the above question is “No" for the prayer need and meeting and “Yes" for your son's game. Send your assistant pastor to pray for the sick, send a manager to the meeting and you attend your son's game. The decision is then made; do the thing that ONLY you can do.
- For everything on the “Yes" list, ask yourself, “Will anyone be harmed if I do not do this today?" Again, separate “No" items from “Yes;" place the “No" items on tomorrow's “to do" list. You'll find many items on the “No" list are not as urgent as you initially thought. If there are items that you cannot easily determine take them through this process: fold a sheet of paper in half. Place “Pros" on one side and “Cons" on the other. For each item, make a list of pros and cons of doing that task today (be sure to weigh the impact against the items already on your “Yes" list). If the “Pros" of doing this task today outweighs the “Cons" add it to your “Yes" list. If not, it moves to tomorrow's list.
- For every item that does not meet the standards of #1, heed the advice of Jethro to Moses; appoint others to assist you (see Hiring the Best and Hiring for Key Positions ). No matter how large or small your church or business, you do not have to do it all. If you are responsible for 50 people or more you should have a pastoral staff (directors in business) to assist you. In business the optimal span of control is 7 to 14 direct reports so to try and be personally responsible for 50 or more people violates the basic premise of effective leadership. Remember, the resources God provides are not always found within your congregation or business but they are available to support you. Be open to using them.
Once you have identified the things that ONLY you can do and have confirmed that they must be done TODAY, focus on those items. If anything else is brought to your attention or put on your plate, go through these three steps again; do not automatically go into solution mode. Take the time to prioritize. Keep in mind that the key is that your family should be part of your list and not an afterthought.
As pastor or CEO you have been placed in a position of accountability, but that does not necessarily equate to having the responsibility of actually doing it yourself. Taking the time to follow the three steps above will make a tremendous difference, but there is one other step: wherever you are, focus your thoughts on that place. Cast down and capture every thought that is not directed at the task or activity at hand. Multitasking is another way of saying you are doing a lot of things at once and none of them very well. Focus on the time and space that you occupy at the moment.
Follow these steps and you will find the balance that provides mental peace, increased effectiveness and greater fulfillment, your family will notice the difference.
Karen Hosey is the founder and president of Z. O. E. Consulting and Total Ministry Makeover. She assists business owners, pastors and individuals improve their results and achieve success. Services include strategic planning, marketing and leadership development. Both customized coaching and group servides are available. Remember, “Life happens, success is on purpose. "