Have you ever been late to a meeting because you simply forgot about it? Have you scheduled an evening meeting at the same time your son had a basketball game?
In the next three posts, we’ll take a look at calendaring and if you should utilize an online calendar or a paper calendar.
We live in a day with instant access to social media, email, podcasts, books, bank account information and much more all on our smart phone device. Even while sitting behind the desk throughout the day, we easily have access information related to work or ministry on our computer. The same applies to online/electronic calendars. With an online calendar, you can access your schedule anywhere in the world and as long as you have internet access, your calendar can be updated in real time. Here are additional benefits on using an online calendar as well as a reason to not utilize an online calendar.
Shareability - Most online calendars have the capability to share your schedule/calendar with other people. You can create a Family Calendar, work calendar, blogging calendar, etc. and share that calendar with your Administrative Assistant, family or supervisor so those close to you are aware of your schedule.
Accessibility - Whether you are at a conference, a trip overseas, or a training event, you can access your calendar. Also, most smart home devices have the capability to add an event to your calendar without even opening up your smartphone, simply by speaking to a device. Accessibility to online calendars are easier today than years past.
Reminders/Notifications - You can set most online calendars to remind you automatically of an event 10 minutes before the event. You can even receive a daily email schedule of the events in your calendar. Reminders and notifications are great tools to use to keep you on track throughout the day.
Distractions - Finally, one reason to not use an online calendar would be how easily distracted a user can be. Email notifications, text messages, social media alerts, or websites can become distractions to the task at hand. If you fear you can become easily distracted or you have other reasons to not use an online calendar, then a paper calendar is the other alternative.
Next week we will discuss paper calendaring and explore how it is beneficial and if there are any concerns with using a paper calendar.
Share with readers what ways you see online calendaring more beneficial than paper calendaring? How do you see online calendaring less beneficial?
Bugs, Clowns, Snakes, Heights and Zombies are still outranked. They still cannot take over the #1 spot.
Americans still view Public Speaking as the #1 Fear.
Yet, no matter how long we try to avoid it, we’re still going to have to speak up at some point. Whether it is a staff meeting, the wedding of a friend, a school show and tell for your child or a report, we’re going to have to speak up in front of our family, friends and peers eventually.
Looking ahead, I want to give you 3 tips to help you overcome your fear of speaking.
No matter how many times you give a presentation in your life, you will have some anxiety associated with your public speech. But the key to all public speeches is preparation. How do you prepare for a public speech? Share with others your keys to giving a successful presentation in the comment section below.
Church volunteers are truly on the front line of ministry. Many local church volunteers work a full time job, have a family life at home, are active within the community and still serve faithfully each week in the local church. The church places volunteers all over the church campus each week: Greeters, parking attendants, small group leaders, technology volunteers, nursery workers, elementary leaders, student ministry leaders and more.
Knowing each ministry volunteer have their own struggles away from the ministry, it’s important that local church leaders and ministers pray for their ministry volunteers.
Here are 10 ways you can pray for your ministry volunteers. Each point will be stated, then supported with Scripture. When you pray for your ministry volunteers, remember to pray over them using the Scripture referenced below.
Here are 10 ways you can pray for your ministry volunteers this week:
Health - John told Gaius that he prayed for his health. Third John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health…” Ask God for protection from sickness and healing for those who are in need.
Preparation Time - Peter reminds the church in First Peter 4:10, “...whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…” May those who serve within your ministry serve with God’s strength so that He will be glorified.
Serving Time - Ask God to bless the actual time your ministry volunteers serve, as they interact with members and guests. Once again, Peter says in First Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Family - Appeal to God on behalf of your ministry volunteers and their family, asking God to bond them together. Like Cornelius in Acts 10:2, may this be said of your ministry volunteers and their family, “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household…”
Spiritual Life - With a busy schedule, often a daily quiet time with God is neglected. Ask God to bless your leaders with a strong personal devotion time. And as they read and pray in private, may their knowledge of God grow and be evident in public. Once again, Peter writes in Second Peter 1:2, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
Social Life - Wherever your ministry volunteers spend their social time, ask God to bless them with opportunities to share the Gospel. Malachi 1:11 says, “For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My Name will be great among the nations…”
Work - Ephesians 6:7 states, “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” Ask God to bless your ministry volunteers at their workplace with a spirit to work as to the Lord.
Motivation - Why do your volunteers serve? This may be a good question to ask them on a Sunday morning or a midweek program. If you are afraid of how they may answer the question, pray for them and their motivation for serving. May their joy be found in Christ alone. Paul writes in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
Growth in Leadership - Are your leaders growing? The work of the ministry is to actually equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Pray to God asking Him to grow their leadership in their ministry area. Ephesians 4:12 reads, “equip the saints for work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God…”
Special Requests - Finally, Interact with your ministry volunteers. Actually ask them how you can pray for them. This may sound like a simple task, but during the busyness of a Sunday morning or midweek program, too often ministers can be task focused rather than ministry focused. Paul said in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
The ministry volunteers are truly a gift to the church. They deserve our prayer and encouragement.
Are there any points I left off this list? What would you have added to the list? Write in the comments below ways you pray for your ministry volunteers.
All Scripture is taken from the ESV.
Have you ever spent Saturday evening preparing for a sermon? I’m not talking about a Saturday evening review or some final edits. I’m speaking about actual preparation for the sermon the next day.
Obviously there are circumstances that arise that require last minute changes. There are also situations where God leads your sermon/lesson preparation in another direction. What I am speaking about is last minute preparation because of calendar interruptions.
Someone drops by your office, a response to an email that takes much longer than expected, or a staff meeting lasts an extra thirty minutes. I know there have been some weeks that I have spent my Saturday evenings preparing for an upcoming lesson or sermon because my week was spent running around performing tasks that were unplanned.
One method to help better equip busy ministers is called ‘Time Blocking’. Instead of tasks, or the to-do list, you should schedule blocks of time on your calendar to work on your most important tasks. Successful business leaders use the time blocking method (http://time.com/4027015/business-success-habits/) and the book ‘The One Thing’ goes into detail on how to implement this method of task management (https://www.amazon.com/ONE-Thing-Surprisingly-Extraordinary-Results/dp/1885167776).
The first step in time blocking is to think about what is most important within your ministry. Once you prayerfully consider what’s most important, then you need to block off a section in your calendar in order to accomplish your one thing.
I’ve chosen these five topics as most important within the ministry. I am sure you may disagree with some of these, considering what role of ministry you are serving in. However, I always consider these important within my ministry.
Sermon Prep/Research Time
Time for Visioning
Time for First Time Guest Follow Up
So each day, I consider each of these five areas then block off at least one hour at least three of the above areas. Typically, I spent the first few hours in the office focused on three items. Once those items are finished, I begin answering emails, meeting with staff members and/or making phone calls.
As a result of time blocking, I have found more flexibility for ministry. And I always understand that emergencies can arise and may cause my calendar to become disrupted. However, most interruptions can wait because I have made an appointment with myself to make sure I am productive in what matters most within my ministry rather than staying busy attending to every single decision.
While this is simply an introduction to Time Blocking, I would like to ask you what are your top priorities for ministry? What do you block out chunks of time for on your daily agenda? Leave your comments below to create discussion with other ministers.
168 Hours a week. As Ministry Leaders, we often think of ways we can maximize the 168 hours God has blessed us with and be more productive. However, 24 of these 168 hours should be spent resting your body, both physically, mentally and emotionally. While we are created in the image of God, we are not omnipotent. We need rest. Here are 5 ideas you can use when thinking about your next day off.
This is a brief list of ideas you can use to rest on your next day off. Do you have a couple of ideas you would add to the list? No matter how you rest, take time to take care of yourself and in doing so, you will be better equipped to serve the body of Christ.
Leadership Pitfalls to Avoid in 2018
In 2017 we saw the fall of many leaders in America. While I am sure many of these individuals thought they would never fall from their lofty position, the Scripture still rings true, “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall (First Corinthians 10:12 NIV).” As Christian leaders, what are some pitfalls we can avoid in 2018 so that we are not making the same mistakes others made in 2017? Here are three Leadership Pitfalls to avoid in 2018.
As leaders, let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. Let us grow in godliness, serve those we lead and learn more in 2018 than we ever have before. More importantly as Christian leaders, let’s seek the glory of God in our leadership rather than the glory of man.
Over 2.1 billion people in the world own a smartphone (Source). From social media posts to text messages, we are able to connect to one another instantly. While there’s the possibility of unproductive smartphone usage, I want to look at eighteen different ways we can use our smartphone for ministry in 2018.
Notifications - My smartphone is always with me, so I take advantage of notifications. Notifications are simply alerts displayed on smartphones. Notifications can typically be controlled by the user. My notifications are generally for calendar alerts, scheduled to-do lists or prayer needs.
Calendar (Widgets) - Often someone will want to schedule an appointment or a meeting with me. In the past, I would take their name and number then call them later that week to schedule a time. Now, I simply use the Calendar app or look at my calendar widget to see what times I have available. The most popular calendar apps: Google Calendar; Sunrise Calendar; Microsoft Outlook.
App Organization - I have organized my apps into separate, labeled folders. So instead of taking time to look through a screen full of apps, I have my apps organized into four folders: Productivity, Finance, Social Media, Communication. On most smartphones, you can label and organize as many folders as you would like to have.
Note Taking - As I make hospital visits with church members, it’s often difficult for me to remember the details of each visit. So I take time after each visit, using my smartphone, to type a few notes about the visits and ways to pray for the individual using my note taking app. I personally use Google Keep, but there are others like: Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, and Simplenote.
Camera - This may seem simple, but the camera is one of my most productive ‘apps’ on my smartphone. Not only do I use it to take pictures of church events, but when I notice a maintenance issue or an out-of-date promotional poster, I simply take a picture of the issue and email it to the proper staff member or keep it in my camera roll as a reminder to resolve the issue at a later time.
Minimal Gaming/Social Media - Personally, games can be a distraction to my ministry, so I have deleted all games from my smartphone. Also, I have minimal social media apps downloaded on my smartphone as well as social media has the reputation of distracting employees in the workplace. Don’t misunderstand, I am not saying playing games or social media use is a sin, but when they distract me from Kingdom work, then I delete the apps.
Voice Assistant - This aspect of the smartphone has become controversial in recent years, but I use my smartphone voice assistant more for productivity related issues. When I’m driving and need to add something to my to-do list, I use my voice assistant by saying (for example), “Hey Google, add Call John to my calendar tomorrow” and the assistant will automatically add it to my calendar. I understand privacy concerns, but I mute my voice assistant during any important conversation and counseling sessions. Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa and Cortana are some of the more popular voice assistants.
Bible - While I don’t use the Bible app on my smartphone for personal devotion usage, I have uploaded it for emergency use in the event I have forgotten my Bible. I do know ministers who use their Bible app for preaching/teaching. The Bible App from Life.Church is the app I trust on my smartphone.
Podcasts - Whether I’m driving or walking to an appointment, I occasionally like to listen to podcasts from my smartphone. Podcasts from Google Play, Podcast Addict, and iTunes are apps that you can listen to podcasts.
Email - I have both personal and ministry related email apps on my smartphone. However, recently I decided to turn off notifications from my email apps as I found myself checking every single email notification I heard. Now, I have to manually refresh my email app in order to upload any new emails.
Video Calls - I only use these apps for family use. Often, ministry takes me out of town or I simply like to check in with my kids from the office. I’ll use a video app to say hello to my family. Google Duo, Facetime and Skype are each popular apps to use for Video Calls.
Lastpass - This app saves passwords to websites and app logins. This can save time because if you’re like me, I have about 37 different passwords to choose from memory each time I try to log into an app or website. With Lastpass, one Master Password is all I need to remember.
Trello - I use this app for events and event planning. Each phase of an event has its own board and each board has individual ‘cards’. If I’m walking around the campus during the planning stages of an event, I can utilize Trello to review how planning is going or add an action item to the plan.
To-Do Lists - I am not a fan of to-do lists, but they are necessary at times. Often if I am out of the office, I will utilize my to-do list app to record an item before it slips my memory. I use Google Keep, but other apps include: Todoist, Wunderlist, Asana, and Microsoft OneNote.
IFTTT - This app can bring different apps together to help you become more productive. For example, during schedule meetings on my Google Calendar, IFTTT automatically will mute my smartphone. Or if I post a picture of a church event on the ministry Facebook page, IFTTT will run an ‘applet’ that will repost the picture to my personal facebook page. There’s hundreds of different ways you can use IFTTT.
Pocket - I enjoy reading articles. Often when I’m reading an interesting article and want to refer to it at a later time, I will save it to the app Pocket. Even if I am offline, Pocket will make the articles I’ve saved available to read.
Cloud Management - I don’t like to use the storage space on my computer or phone for work related items. I use a cloud management system, Google Drive, so I can access all my work items from anywhere. If I want to see a budget report while I am out of the office, I can utilize my cloud management system to view the report from my phone. Microsoft Office, Dropbox and Google Drive are some of the more popular systems. NOTE: Many church membership management systems are using the cloud so it makes it easier to access membership information. Check with your church membership management system to see if it’s available.
Rewards Cards - Finally, there are different stores I shop at that provide rewards cards. Instead of filling my wallet with another card or having miniature cards attached to my keychain, I have downloaded an app that allows me to scan my rewards cards. Now, when I’m an a store that uses a reward card, I simply open the app, find the reward card, show them my smartphone and they scan it. Android Pay, StoCard and others can be used for rewards cards.
These are some of the ways I use my smartphone for ministry. What are some of the apps you utilize most for your ministry or area of work?
I promise I'm not trying to get a Taylor Swift song stuck in your head by titling this article: Blank Space. However, when talking about time management, including some blank spaces on your calendar can be beneficial. While I have written a past article about scheduling my to-do list, I also leave about three blank spaces a day (three hours total) on my calendar for three reasons.
1. Conversation - Yes, I am an introvert and I am refreshed after time alone, but I also understand the importance of conversation. So I leave blank spaces on my calendar to allow for conversation. Whether it is conversing with members of my team, or calling a key volunteer or a co-worker dropping into my office, I have some blank spaces on my calendar for moments of conversation.
2. Get Ahead - As I finish one task I look ahead to the next item on the calendar. When I approach a blank space on my calendar, I often look ahead and try to finish one item from the next day's agenda. This will free up space on the next day for items on my 'important/non-urgent' list (like personal development, prayer, lesson planning, etc.).
3. Interruptions - Finally, every leader will have interruptions. For my calendar, having blank spaces scheduled each day allow for interruptions. Whether it's a work emergency, helping a co-worker or a surprise visit from a key volunteer, I am not worried about being off schedule as I know I can adjust my blank spaces and arrange accordingly.
When I first began my current time management system, I had every minute of the day blocked off and something was scheduled during those blocks of time. However, I noticed I was not intentional with conversation and when an interruption happened, I was stressed. However, now that I am allowing up to three hours worth of 'blank space', I am allowing some flexibility into the daily calendar.
How do you arrange your daily calendar? Do you have any flexibility in your schedule?
The more leadership books and articles I read, I become more aware of self-awareness. True, I am learning more about myself as I read, but I am also learning more about this concept of 'self-awareness'.
Apparently, leadership guru's like to talk about self-awareness. John Maxwell states, "If you want to change and grow, then you must know yourself and accept who you are before you can start building." -- John Maxwell. However, one Bible verse alone let's me know about who I am - "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it." Jeremiah 17:9. How then can we lead a people if we are deceitful, sick and full of sin?
Proverbs 1:7 is a great place to begin. To lead well, I argue that instead of leading from a foundation of self-awareness, leaders should begin by becoming a "Proverbs 1:7 Leader". Let's explore it together:
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
First, a Proverbs 1:7 Leader will lead from an understanding of who God is. The Majestic King of the Universe created all things for His glory, yet mankind sinned (Genesis 1-3). Because of mankind's sin, death entered into the world. Now, we have all sinned and deserve eternal punishment and eternal death. But God's plan was to send His perfect Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin. Jesus was our substitute when He died. So now, when we place our faith in the work of Jesus, we can be saved from eternal death and punishment.
Once a Proverbs 1:7 Leader recognizes his or her own need for a Savior, he or she will 'fear' the Lord. Fear in this passage means to be in awe or reverence. The more a Proverbs 1:7 Leader knows and understands about God, the more he/she will grow as a leader.
Secondly, fools despise this type of knowledge. If someone is not in awe of God, then who would they be in awe of? Self, money, fame, and possessions. We have already noted above that the human heart is sick and and deceitful. So when someone is not in awe of God, they are in awe of their own sick heart and they place their trust in the deceitfulness of their own heart.
Since we are deceitful and sick, the Proverbs 1:7 Leader must follow someone before they can lead others. So in order to be a Proverbs 1:7 Leader, you must:
1. Be in awe of God.
2. Revere God.
3. Recognize your own sinfulness (self-awareness)
4. Rely on God's wisdom and strength as a leader.
Are you a Proverbs 1:7 Leader? What is the foundation of your leadership?
In May of 2016, I suffered a concussion from a simple bump on the head. Since that time, I have been dealing with Post Concussion Syndrome. Psychological issues, emotional changes, headaches, memory loss, an absence of visual memory, and more has caused some changes in my life that I had to learn to deal with over the past year. With all that my family and I have dealt with regarding PCS, one positive outcome has been my desire to read books.
Over the course of my life, I have never had a desire to read books. It's true, because of my undergraduate and graduate school work, I had to read numerous books during my days in school. However, aside from my assigned reading I have read ZERO books...until 2017. As I ponder this new routine and the 20+ Leadership Books I've read this year, a few things come mind about reading.
Focus - I've found that reading a book enables me to focus on one idea at a time, rather than jumping from one idea to the next. Multitasking and jumping from one idea to the next takes more brainpower than we truly realize. So focusing on one idea/concept has been a big part of the healing process for my instance of Post Concussion Syndrome. I also do not move on to another book until I finish the one I'm in the middle of reading. Not only does it keep me focused on one concept, but it also motivates me to finish and move on to the next book.
Memory - I understand many other people who suffer from PCS may have different experiences than what I faced, but my experience has greatly affected my memory. Granted I didn't have the world's best memory before my accident, but my short term memory and especially my visual memories have suffered since May 2016. While I don't remember much of what I read this year, I have learned to take notes and use postcards to capture thoughts I have about a page or chapter I finished. And I even use my phone at times to take a picture of a quote or certain page I wanted to remember. I now have a folder in the photo section of my phone for all of the John Maxwell pages I've enjoyed reading this year.
Rest - I am aware that for some people, reading a book and trying to focus while reading can be stressful on the brain. However, after my concussion, I find reading a book to be restful and relaxing for my brain. I have found that reading a chapter from a book before I go home at the end of the work day can be beneficial in helping the brain rest after a long day in the office. If you do find reading a book more stressful than relaxing, try reading until you find a book/genre you enjoy. Start with a small book as well. You can also download a book and listen to it while driving or running.
These are a few of the benefits I have found from reading this year. There are many other benefits I have found along the way in my new routine. But these have been more beneficial considering the change my body has gone through since May of 2016. What benefits do you receive from reading?