One of the ironies of leadership – whether you’re a worship leader, a senior pastor or in any kind of position where you are leading people – is that success typically results in complexity not simplicity.
A worship leader grows their worship team and now has to manage scheduling multiple worship leaders and multiple worship teams. More complex, not more simple.
A senior pastor whose church is growing has to sustain new ministry programs, multiple worship services and perhaps launching new sites. More complex, not more simple.
Success isn’t wrong and complexity isn’t necessarily bad but unchecked complexity will quickly be the downfall of what was once success.
Success leads to complexity. Complexity undermines success.
As leaders, how do we push and pray for success while at the same time remaining focused on the key things God has called us to in our ministry? How do we raise up new leaders while personally maintaining visionary direction over the areas we have been tasked with leading? How do I as an individual stay close to Jesus and connected to the source of my leadership and my effectiveness so that I don’t burn out?
I’ve been thinking about this and working on this in my own leadership over the last year. Here are three strategies I’ve put in place in my life to help me do less as a way to effectively have more impact in my life and my leadership.
If you’ve never spent time blocking out your own calendar you are doing irreparable damage to your own leadership. Leaders will never have enough time for all the tasks, never enough energy for all the demands. If you don’t own your own time for the responsibilities which are crucial to your role you will find yourself overwhelmed with other’s people’s expectations, other people’s meetings and other people’s ideas of how you should spend your time.
Consider this a plug if it’s needed but if you haven’t checked out Carey Nieuwhof’s High Impact Leadership Course let me add my recommendation. After working through the course I’ve been able to develop a new, effective, prioritized monthly blocked calendar that places my primary responsibilities within my prime time effectiveness.
Of course we all have responsibilities to be flexible and available as needed and we get called in to meetings which may not be our favourite things but if you start with your own priorities scheduled first you will make much better use of your time. You’ll end up doing less so you can do more.
The biblical mandate to rest in the midst of work or to work out of rest is perhaps the most overlooked leadership strategy of doing less so you can do more.
The American dream which has made its way around the world is that we should work hard for five days and rest for two. Work for the weekend!
The cultural expectation for pastors is often to be available 24/7, working constantly for the people they are called to serve. This is a calling, not a job!
As usual, the biblical model is neither of these but a third way: work six days, rest one. Modelled in Genesis and instructed by God, all of creation is designed to fit this rhythm of work and rest that actually allows us to do less so we can do more.
By working hard for the five days we’re expected to work at our jobs and then a sixth day where we can work on a hobby, a side project, work on our home, whatever it is. We then guard that seventh day as sabbath and keep it holy and set apart for the Lord.
My sabbath is typically Friday evening to Saturday evening. We have family time, my wife and I have date night and the Saturday is spent “praying and playing,” encouraged by Eugene Peterson in his book Working The Angles.
By focusing on working six days instead of seven you’re freed up, energized, rested and you’ll discover how doing less can allow you to do more.
Time With Jesus
So far we’ve talked about strategy that will give you a monthly calendar as well as a weekly rhythm of doing less so you can do more.
In all of these leadership strategies we have to remember that our daily strength comes from our time with Jesus and how the Spirit of God equips us to do the work He’s called us to do. My personal ministry verse this year has been 1 Peter 4:11 “If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”
If we’re going to serve Jesus and His kingdom, we have to do that out of the strength that He gives rather than our own ability, talent or expertise.
This means as often as possible I need to be in communion with Jesus, strengthened by His Spirit so that I can continue to do the work that He’s called me to do.
This is more important than strategic planning. More important than casting vision. More important than scheduling volunteers. All of those are tasks which have to happen and all leaders need to spend time doing those things but if I’m doing those out of my own strength rather than this strength that God provides then it’s a downward spiral.
Leaders, every day. Time with Jesus. You will be doing less but in the end you will do more because of your willingness to be strengthened day after day after day by God who loves you and calls you to serve Him and the world.
What about for you? What are some ways that you have been able to learn how to do less so you can do more?