Busy Work

Some times we just assume things. Like whether something “on our list” really needs to be done. Some times tasks turn in to habits – and we have to ask ourselves whether the original reason we started doing “it” is still viable. It really is a question of value. How much value do I get from doing the task, and how much does it cost me to do it?

Here are some ideas to help you think about busywork in life, career and ministry… Continue reading “Busy Work”

Planning and Execution

Execution is a strange word. In different contexts, it can mean killing someone, making things happen, or working intentionally. It is this last meaning that I want to elaborate. Execution is working intentionally. To work intentionally, you must:

1) Establish goals.
2) Determine how you INTEND to achieve those goals.
3) Spend your energy and time in ways that honor your intentions.


This sounds really simple, until we realize that we spend most of our time being distracted by administrivia, our own bad habits, and other peoples issues. Working intentionally, is plain and simply:

“bringing sufficient focus to a goal to justify ignoring the normal distractions enough to accomplish the goal.”


Unless you are one of those completely mission-oriented, type A personalities – you probably find this difficult. Moreover, the further the goal is away from your normal responsibilities, the harder it is to break free from the ordinary rhythm of activity to work on it. A wise man I met at my second employer used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!” While this isn’t necessarily theologically sound – it sure expresses how things often work out. Continue reading “Planning and Execution”

Planning and Scheduling

Most people who are not professional project managers, build plans without much rigor. For simple endeavors, this can be just enough structure to get to done.

We have already discussed in our Planning and Goals Post about defining what done looks like. In this post, we are going to talk about how to put a schedule together, and how to think about resourcing the plan. This is a conversation about When and Who.


Schedules and resources are inextricably linked together. Your ability to accomplish the What by When of a goal, is determined by the ability and availability of the Who. But the starting point of a schedule is a sequence. These activities in some order will get to done. The order is determined by dependencies. Dependencies are simply an inability to start some activity until some other activity is finished.

What are the benefits of building the schedule to achieve a goal?

Continue reading “Planning and Scheduling”

Planning and Delegation

Many leaders find it hard to let go. They find it very hard to let other people run aspects of their project, their ministry. They feel a constant need to be in the center of everything, coordinating, keeping track, holding the project together. I know how this feels.

The thing is, this is a sure way to make a project fail. You inevitably become a bottleneck. People end up waiting for you to make decisions, your “say so” becomes important to the timeline. Inevitably, you will burn out, alienate people, be frustrated, and think it was everybody elses fault.

But think about this: This is not the principle on which God operates! He, being infinitely competent, and infinitely capable, has chosen to delegate the work of his Kingdom on earth to us, incompetent, incapable us. Why, because he knows that we need it in order to grow in our relationship with Him. If he does everything how will we glorify him? Continue reading “Planning and Delegation”

Planning and Goals

Pastors and other vocational church leadership staff are educated in many things. If they have an M.div they typically have studied the Bible very deeply. They typically have studied church history, and probably have some counseling or other shepherding in their education.

In talking with pastors and other staff that I know, neither their undergrad or seminary experience prepared them for the “normal challenges of organizational leadership”. Some of them are great leaders, but it really is innate skill or talent, undeveloped until it needed to be exercized in the heat of battle.

Today’s post is about two simple activities in organizational leadership: Planning and Goals.


Planning is an activity that takes goals as an input, and creates action steps as an output. Goals are expressed as a what by when; some desired outcome on some desired schedule. Goals can be very simple, such as, “Preach a sermon series on marriage in May”, or they can be grandiose and complex, such as, “Convert our sunday school communities to small group communities by the end of the year.” Continue reading “Planning and Goals”

Program Event Repetition

Does your organization have some special events or programs that happen on a regular cycle but infrequently (i.e annual, semi-annual or quarterly)? Does it always seem like these are thrown together, or disruptive (taking time away from more frequent programming)? Are they hard to recruit volunteers for, and hard to plan?

Perhaps treat them all like one big program, so that there is some common coordination, and process accross them. Find what works for each aspect of each program and carefully document that so that knowledge is shared. Figure out common roles and responsibilities that can be shared across events or programs. Establish a common rhythm for these events – planning, meetings, schedules. Continue reading “Program Event Repetition”