Whether we know it or not, we are in a tug of war between demands that constantly compete for our attention.
We have demands that are urgent. These are demands that are right in front of us and need our attention ASAP. Some of the urgent items you might see on my list could be:
- Choosing songs for this weekend’s worship service.
- Committing a worship leader to next week’s Men’s Event.
- Communicating call times to volunteers.
Some demands are important. Tending to them will benefit team culture, longevity, and health. Important needs have a significant impact on our lives, our work and our ministry.
- Recruiting new team members by holding auditions.
- Investing in young vocalists to develop them into strong worship leaders.
- Listening to new songs and sounds to musically move your church forward.
Every task in front of us has some degree of urgency or importance. Appropriately prioritizing can be tricky to sort out, but here are a few ways I’m learning to manage!
1. Know what’s what on your to-do list.
This knowledge is essential to the prioritization process. Identifying urgent tasks will help you know what you need to tackle next.
Urgent: Your team is preparing for tomorrow’s worship set and a song has to change at the last minute. Communicating this change with them demands timely action.
Likewise, knowing what’s most important will help you understand how to manage your time once you’ve knocked those urgent items off the to-do list.
Important: You’d like to invest in people. The amount of mid-week events is growing at your church, and you can’t sustain being the only one who can run the audio console. Training up a volunteer you can trust may not need to happen today, but it’s undeniably important.
2. Beware of exclusively tackling the urgent and neglecting the important.
We have to raise the priority of things that don’t seem to be time-sensitive to be successful in ministry. Things like self-care, tending to the spiritual growth of our team members, and training up volunteers have to be in focus.
Don’t make the mistakes I have—ignoring those important things, only to find myself treading water. At some point, the critically important things will become an emergency that can’t be resolved overnight.
3. Learn to delegate the things that are less important or less urgent.
You can’t do it all on your own. Start by handing off regular tasks that need to get done, but may not destroy a project if they aren’t done right the first time. As competency and experience increase so does your trust of that volunteer. Eventually, you can hand off things that are time-sensitive or mission-critical.
The result is an all-star leader who bears your team DNA, is deeply connected to your church and is using his or her gift to serve God. AND you have more space in your schedule to dedicate to the more important or more urgent needs of your ministry.
4. People always matter.
When we use lists to help our work, it can become easy to allow them to dictate our lives. Written plans are helpful in providing focus and direction, but never forget: people always matter, planned or not.
As we learn to balance the urgent and the important, know that we’re following in the footsteps of Jesus, who, with full clarity of priorities in view, counted our lives as both important and urgent. May we always remember to love others in the same way.