Five Ways to Start Your Day Productively
A pastor’s day is often going from one meeting to another, or putting out one fire after another. What started as an opportunity to “get something done” can become a string of tangents ending in a feeling of futility and non-accomplishment. A male in the United States will have, on average, 29,565 days of life. Your days are finite, numbered and you have the opportunity to make something of each one that your blessed with. The key to a productive day is having a plan for a productive day. Here are five great practices to help you make the most of your day.
On time. Begin your day on time. Determine your waking time, set the alarm clock and establish a pattern. Widely varying schedules, pulling all-night work sessions, then getting up early and going to bed after dinner the next day sets the body into a difficult pattern. The God-designed human body likes routine and grows stronger when it is not forced into oddly-shaped weeks. If you find yourself lacking energy to take on the day, consider whether or not your waking and sleeping schedule is the culprit.
In the Word. Even if you are not a “morning person” there is something to be said for putting your mind into God’s Word as your first waking thoughts of the day. The Word sets the tone for the day. As a pastor the Word will help you order your thoughts around God’s mission and ministry plans for your day. Even if you do your primary Bible study time at another point in the day, consider beginning the morning with some moments in the Bible to order the hours ahead.
On your knees. Along with a time in the Word, consider too how you can be praying about the day ahead. How often we dive into our days without seeking God and His plans for us. This can be as simple as asking God to drive your day according to His Spirit, or seeking His guidance for key decisions or meetings you have for the day, or simply requesting the Lord remind you and open your eyes to opportunities to minister throughout your day that He may have planned for you. Never assume your calendar for the day is God’s calendar as well—pray for and be watchful for divine appointments.
With your family. Despite what may appear to be a packed series of daily responsibilities, don’t bolt out the door, coffee in one hand and smart phone in the other, without giving significant quality time to your family in the morning. First, though you may have more time “after work” to spend with your family, prioritizing them in the morning speaks volumes to their importance in your own life. It gives you the opportunity to pray for their day as you conduct yours—ask what is going on in your spouse’s life and children’s lives. Don’t begin your day as a stranger to your own household. Ask, too, that they pray for you throughout the day. Use thoughts of one another and spiritual support for one another as an opportunity to grow your family closer to each other and to Christ while you are apart.
A task ahead. Finally, look to the task just ahead for your day and prepare personally and spiritually. If your first meeting is with a church member or staff member, pray for that time as you drive and approach the office or other meeting place. Keep your mind on what is before you. In general schedule tougher tasks earlier in the day before you get tired and your mind is not as alert and fresh. Don’t be afraid to reschedule a meeting or task that you simply are not prepared for if that is the very best option. Many pastors burn out because they cannot keep their minds on ten things at once. Don’t try putting 10% of your mind into 10 things all at the same time. Give 100% to what is before you, allowing God to work on the next task following the one you will first engage.
Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.