How I Structure my Week


I get asked by a lot of pastors or church planters how I structure my week and when I do things. I have tried systems and using an ideal week, but no one system has really fit my style the best. I’ve kind of blended things together.

While this won’t be as neat as a laid out calendar, here are principles that I use (not in a particular order):

  • Determine what is most important. This is something that Brian Howard helped me with. Determine the top 8 things for your job and then determine how long those tasks will take and how much time you want to get give them. Stick to that.
  • Do what is most important when I’m most awake. For most people, this is the morning. Reserve this time for the most important thing on your list of 8 things. For me, this is sermon prep. It is when I need the most brain power, need to be the most alert, so I do this then. During this time, turn off social media, email, your phone and alerts.
  • Check email twice a day. Email is a destructive, helpful, necessary force. It is great but can be a time sucker. Do whatever you need to do so that you check email only twice a day, at lunch and then right before you leave. What if someone calls or stops by your office and asks, “Did you get my email?” Say, not yet, I’ll check it in an hour. You may want to put an auto response to let people know what time they can expect a response, but don’t let email control your day.
  • Take breaks every 90 minutes. This is helpful. Every 90 minutes, stop what you are doing and walk around, stretch your legs. This helps to move your blood, wake you up, and bring more creativity to the task you are doing.
  • Make meetings matter. Meetings are also necessary but can be a huge time waster. Here’s how to make meetings matter: stack them back to back so you get into meeting mode, always know the agenda of every meeting you go to (it is amazing how many meetings you could skip or could be phone calls if the agenda is clear), keep meetings to no longer than 90 minutes (at 90 minutes your brain is toast so end the meeting for your break).
  • Nothing before my sermon prep. Or your most important task. On the mornings I do sermon prep, I have no meeting before that. If I do, I’ll spend the whole sermon prep time thinking about the meeting I had. I want to wake up with a clear head and dive right into my sermon.
  • Stick to hard deadlines. Everything has a deadline and an end. My sermon needs to be done at a certain time. Make a deadline for the end of your day and get out of work on time. Nothing is worse than things being passed til next week because you mismanaged your time or getting home late because you didn’t prioritize. Think about what happens the day before you go on vacation, you get everything done. Now, do that every week.
  • Everything that is important gets put on the calendar. No matter what it is, it gets a minute on your calendar. I get asked how I motivate myself to workout, one answer is that it is the next thing on my calendar. If something is going to get done, no matter what it is, it needs to have a minute on your schedule, otherwise, it will get passed.
  • Start with bible reading. First thing in the morning, meet with Jesus. This changes the mood and feel of the day.
  • Then, spend 1 hour on reading for yourself. If you can work it into your schedule, read to grow for yourself. Read books that push your thinking on the gospel, leadership, theology, church, being a man or woman, whatever you need to grow in. Again, if you want to grow, it needs to have a space on your calendar.


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The Expectations of and For a Pastor

You can feel the pressure of the expectations for your future in ministry that were placed on you because you did well in seminary. You can feel a weight of responsibility to a denomination that invested in you and in your ministry. You may feel the burden of the vision of long-term and seasoned elders who have had significant impact on the culture and direction of the church. You probably carry the load of your own hopes and dreams for yourself and the vision of what your ministry could be like in the years to come. If you have the heart of a pastor, you feel the weight of the desires, expectations, and spiritual needs of the people God has called you to serve. You feel the responsibility of building the right ministry reputation before the eyes of a watching community. You feel the weight of the obligation to lead a variety of ministries that don’t always work in unison. You carry the load of needs of finances and facilities. You face a variety of voices that comment on your public teaching, preaching, and worship leadership. You are drawn into solving problems you didn’t create but must be solved. You face the burden of opposition and criticism. You have to deal with leaders who want control and are more political than pastoral. You feel the weight of all these things pulling against the enormous responsibility you have as husband and father.

All of these are legitimate concerns, but together they can result in a heart that is seldom at rest and a ministry that lacks focus, careening from one serious concern to another. There is another thing: it is right to carry the responsibility of all these things, but you must not let any of them rule your heart. All of these concerns can become seductive pastoral idolatries, and when they do, you may think that you are serving God, but your heart is ruled by something to which you have attached your pastoral identity and inner sense of wellbeing. In your ministry you can faithfully call people to submit their lives ot the lordship of Jesus Christ, and in that very same ministry surrender your heart to a whole catalog of pastoral idolatries. When this happens, you do ministry in the hopes of getting horizontally what you have already been given vertically. In ways which you are unaware, you ar asking ministry acclaim, success, reputation, etc., to be your own personal messiah. This will never work. It always leads to bad choices and never results in the inner security that you seek. Think about the insanity of this subtle ministry idolatry.

This Weekend: If Today Was Your Last Day

Saturday night we are wrapping up our series on the life of Elijah.

We’ll be looking at the end of his life, how it is different (because he didn’t die) and what that means for us and asking the question, “If today was your last day on earth, what would you do with it? How would you spend it?”

It is going to be a great way to wrap up this series.

You do not want to miss Saturday night, see you at 5pm!

Links of the Week

  1. Ed Stetzer on Evangelical gullibility
  2. Craig on 10 reasons to invite people to Jesus every week
  3. Perry on Seeing God
  4. Jonathan on A movement of people
  5. Billy on Give vs. Take – How to love your city
  6. C.J. on Priorities + Single Staff Pastors
  7. Scot on Lowering the drinking age
  8. The meaning of green
  9. Dan on his trip to 722