In my last post I was whining about my life feeling out of control and that I was moving at hyper-speed. One of the comments to that post came from Josh, an intern at Community Christian Church. He commented: “i think that you are absolutly right. i agree. i just dont know how one does it. any suggestions that you have at this stage of leadership would be incredibly helpful to a guy in my early stages.” Good question, Josh. Here are a few thoughts…
Last week I spoke at a conference for Pastors of Mega Churches. There were over 100 pastors along their wives from churches that had 1,000 to 18,000 in average attendance. It was really an exceptional group of leaders. Great people! However, I left with the impression that many of these leaders were living with unmanageable schedules. I talked with a couple guys who (because their wives were sitting next to them) admitted that they didn’t take a day off and were gone most evenings. When I was in Seoul, South Korea speaking at a leadership conference a couple years ago I came away very impressed with the commitment of those people to the Jesus mission. But it was also clear that the church staff worked 12-18 hour work days, 7 days a week. Wow?!?
So, back to Josh’s question: when you are in a significant leadership role how do you do life and not let life do you? Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way…
1. Schedule time off. – This sounds like a no-brainer, but lots of leaders don’t do it. Since my assistant takes care of my schedule now she knows not to schedule anything on Mondays or Thursday mornings. My time off starts on Sunday afternoon and then extends until Tuesday AM. I also stay home on Thursday mornings and teach our youngest Caleb, who we are homeschooling. Even when my schedule is crazy (like now) I still take off Monday and stay at home to teach Caleb on Thursdays. How do I do it? I schedule it.
2. You don’t have to work in the evenings. – I almost never have an evening meeting. Since we literally do not have a single committee at CCC, I don’t have any have that stuff with which to deal. We do have teams who have to both decide and implement ministry, but I have worked it so that none of my teams meet in the evenings. So, I’m home by 6 pm and for dinner every night. I am willing to start my day as early as anyone will meet me. 6 am? Sure! If I ever cheat on my schedule I will cheat on the front end while Sue and the kids are still in bed or just starting to get ready for school. The only evening I’m typically out is for my small group. And that has nothing to do with leadership, that is because I’m a Christ Follower.
3. You can work stuff around your kids activities and sports. – This takes some coordination and real hustle, but it can be done. If Amy has a concert or a lacrosse game it goes on my schedule and it’s an appointment that will not be interrupted. Sometimes you have to lobby to make it work. For example, the last several years I have coached my two boys baseball and basketball teams. (And I love it!) But in order to make it work I’ve had to request that the league schedule my Saturday games between 11- 2 pm so it won’t interfere with Saturday evening services. And they do it. Sometimes I come rushing in just in time for a Saturday service or I have to review the media/powerpoint at an earlier time. But if you make it a priority, it can be done. I know that many on our CCC leadership team do this – Jon, Troy and others.
4. Have people that will tell you the truth. – I have told Sue, “honey, if I blow it at home, I have blown it! And I need you to tell me the truth when you think I’m not being the kind of dad or husband I need to be.” The truth is much more imporant than my feelings and I am fortunate to have a friend/wife who will shoot straight with me. Sue tells me the truth.
5. Create the culture and don’t just respond to it. – One of the advantages of being a church planter is that you get to create the culture. At CCC, our staff does not have office hours. I guess you could call it flex time. We have never called it that; it’s really a “get your job done” and part of your job is to make time for God, spouse and family. So, if you are wondering how does a guy leading a large church and network get that much time off and not have eveing meetings…it is how we started CCC. Nobody knows any different, it’s a part of the culture.
In order to give full disclosure – I probably work at least 55 hours a week. And while I’m working, I work hard and I’m going full speed. But even when it is crazy, like it is right now…I try to make sure that I’m doing life and not letting life do me.