Do you say you are focused?  Would people on your team say that?

When I look at youth pastor’s calendars and their lives online, my first question is why?  Why would you do that?  Why are you so busy?  Which gets me thinking about myself.  Am I too busy?  Am I able to do the essential things in my youth ministry?

A few years ago, I took a group of students down to Los Angeles.  It was an amazing 9 days away.  Students who we have been discipling for years finally “got it”, and now are thinking about going off to Bible College, or doing ministry in some capacity.  The trip was a hit.  The students loved it, parents loved it, and my co-workers loved it.  It was a huge success.

The weeks that followed that missions trip were busy, and my spring wasn’t planned out, so it meant that I lost lot’s of days to things that weren’t as important as my family or ministry.

That season I was away over 23 days in the span of a few months.  I never felt how tired I was until I hit the summer.  It was the most difficult summer of my life.  Burn out hit me hard, and it hit my family as hard.

It was humbling to know that this can happen to anyone.

Important vs Urgent

If you don’t plan for the important, the urgent will always crowd them out.  What is your daily goal?  What is your weekly goal?  Do you plan out your weeks?

Planning each week helps us stay focused on the important things.  Everyone whats to do the important things, but if you are in ministry for any length of time, you will know that the urgent things creep up.  The urgent things crowd out the essential things I should be doing in my youth ministry.

So, it got me thinking about my schedule, and what are the top three things I have to do, and what three things I should do, and what are three things I shouldn’t do.

In one season, I eliminated all the should and shouldn’t.

How did I do it?  I said NO.  It’s pretty simple.  The one thing I have realized in the last two years is that highly successful people don’t do a million things.  They do a few things really well.  The key word, FEW.

So what does that mean for you?

I would take out a piece of paper.  Write 3 columns down the page.

In the first column write, I have to: 

These are all the things you must do.  If you didn’t do them, you would get fired.  Like if I didn’t run the youth ministry, I wouldn’t have a job.  It’s pretty simple.  Now, if you have more than three, try to bump one down to the next list if you can.   For now, try to be as general as possible.

In the second column write, I should: 

These are things probably that maybe you like doing.  Like web design, graphic design, worship, and janitorial work(lol).  These are things you probably shouldn’t be doing, but you built a bad habit initially, and now you can’t get out of it.  Pass these things on to other people in the next 3-6 months.  You might be able to hand things over right now to someone.

In the last column write, I shouldn’t: 

These are the things that you got tricked into doing when you took this position.  In my last position, I was roped into doing a grade 5-7 Sunday school class.  There was no point, except to keep kids busy when the adults were in “church”.   These are things that you need to stop doing.  Are you needed for the senior’s lunch?  Are you really needed at every board meeting?

These are the things that are a huge distraction.  This might be time to sit down and talk with your supervisor.  You can only do a few things well.  Why is _________ on your job description.

How you got into this mess.  

Let me tell you.  It all starts with fear.  Fear of losing my job.  Fear of approval.  Fear of _____________.  We all have fears, but when we let them take us over, we lose our passion and drive for what we are called to do.

We mask that fear with busyness.  I was there once.  It was awful.  I was terrified inside, but deep down there was a desire to do the thing God was asking me to do, but I couldn’t because there was way too much on my plate.

How to get out of it 

Prayer.  You need to start with praying through your list.  What is one thing you should bump down?  What can you pass off to someone else, or completely kill?  The best way to figure this out is by praying about it.  I pray every week that God would help me understand what is essential in my youth ministry.

Asking friends for advice who don’t live life maxed out.  You know who those people are.  I have friends who are doing home renovations and other trips while their youth ministry is incredible.  I don’t know where I heard this, but it’s true, busyness doesn’t equal fruitfulness.

Another person to ask for help is your senior pastor/supervisor.  Be honest.  Be real about how you are feeling with the workload, and cast a vision for what could be.

This might be a season to cut back.  It might be the season to do a few things really well.  Your ministry will benefit from you saying no to things that shouldn’t be yours in the first place.