Making Room for What Matters | Use Your Schedule to Your Advantage


On Sunday, I finished our Breathing Room series at Revolution by looking at how to find breathing room between work, life and everything that has to get done. This week, I want to share 6 simple ways I’ve done that and you can to. I’m going to share one each day so you have time to process them and hopefully put some things into practice.

The first one we looked at was how to get a good night sleepTuesday, we talked about why you should take a break every 90 minutesWednesday, we looked at what electronics can do to our margin. Thursday we looked at what will probably be the most controversial or at least, the one you think is unattainable: Pay people to do what you hate and yesterday we looked at one of the most important things to making room for what matters most: Live the life you want, not the one others want you to live

As we wrap up this series today, I want to share something that we often don’t think about when it comes to our lives and schedules and it is crucial to finding breathing room and making room in life for what matters most. It’s this: Use your schedule to your advantage. 

Every job, career, has a schedule and a rhythm. If you have kids in school, you know this. If you are in school, you know this. No matter what you do, no matter what stage of life you are in, there is a schedule and a rhythm. There are times that are busy and times that are slow. You have days that are more stressful and hectic and tiring than others.

Use them to your advantage instead of letting them use you. 

Simple right?

Here’s what I mean.

For my rhythm as a pastor, the fall and spring are the busiest times of the year. The slowest times? From Christmas Eve until the first week of January and the middle of June to the middle of July. Because of this, I strategically take breaks then. During my week, Tuesday and Wednesday are my most stressful and intense days so I don’t plan much on those evenings.

I am also blessed with being able to make my own schedule so I can work on my sermon, plan meetings when I want.

Maybe you work in the evening and have the days free. How can you be more strategic with those days?

Can you make your own schedule and decide to take a break for your kids during the day? Some people can.

Can you start work earlier to get done earlier? Some people can. Most people can’t (not because their company won’t let them but because they haven’t asked).

When is your slow time? When is the busiest time of the year for you?

Plan accordingly.

The problem for most Americans is we never think about this. We simply roll from one day to the next, one season to the next without ever catching our breath.

When I begin preaching in January, I know it is a long time until summer. That’s okay because I took some downtime over the holidays.

It’s the same in the fall.

Sit down and look at your calendar for the year. If you don’t know when you are busiest, look back and see what you did and how it went. If you are a teacher, you know when it slow down. Use that to live the life you want to live.

Don’t let your schedule dictate your life.


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Almost the Best Books of 2013


It’s that time of year again, time to share my top lists of the year. Yesterday, I shared the top sermon downloads from Revolution Church.

Tomorrow I’ll begin sharing my favorite albums of the year. First, the honorable mentions, then on Friday you’ll get my top 13 albums of the year.

Today’s list are the books that almost made my favorite books of 2013. To see my list of favorite books from past year, simply click on the numbers: 200920102011 and 2012.

I’ll share my favorite books of 2013 on Thursday. To make this list, it does not have to be published in 2013, I only needed to read it in 2013. As always, this list was hard to narrow down, but here are the honorable mentions for the top 13 books of 2013:

The Conviction to Lead | Al Mohler

Mohler said, “The problem is a lack of attention to what leaders believe and why this is central. If our leaders are not passionately driven by the right beliefs, we are headed for disaster. At the same time, if believers cannot lead, we are headed nowhere.” You can read my review here.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On | Jonah Berger

While this book is mostly a business marketing book, the implications for pastors when it comes to preaching and communication are enormous. When you preach, you want your topic and ideas to spread, to “catch on.” That’s the goal of this book. You can read my review here.

The Power of Habit: Why we do What we do in Life and Business | Charles Duhigg

He talks about the habit loop, which is when there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: Over time, this loop—cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward—becomes more and more automatic. You can read my review here.

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success | Adam Grant

Give and Take looks at who are the most successful people in the world: givers, takers or matchers. What he found from all walks of life, those that are givers are more successful than takers or simply matchers. This is counter-intuitive and what makes the book so good. You can read my review here.

Stay tuned for more “best of” lists tomorrow.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


John Piper on When we send someone to their death.

Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media. One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya. Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father.

Jon Bloom on For all who have ever lost a child.

Suffering. Evil. Death. All of us experience them. They consume the lives of our precious loved ones — sometimes in unspeakably horrible ways. They bend us to the ground and produce tearful groanings too deep for words.

Thom Rainer on One of the biggest mistakes pastors make.

Pastors, I want to talk frankly and, hopefully, with a spirit of love, about one of the biggest mistakes I see many of you make. Most pastors have little emphasis, or sometimes, even knowledge about the content that is taught in groups in their churches.

Jonathan Holmes on Why does he look at pornography.

Something I have found personally helpful in counseling with both men and women through this issue is helping the counselee identify what motivates him or her to seek out pornography. In some ways we might say the actual viewing of pornography is symptomatic of a deeper worship disorder that is happening in the heart. What motivates and precedes the viewing of pornography? Once that can be identified then more specific biblical counsel can often be offered.

Letting pastors be real.

We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it’s because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we’re creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.

One Family’s Adoption Journey

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • What a great thanksgiving weekend
  • We had a packed house on Thursday of family and friends
  • Love hosting a big party like that
  • Even though my Steelers lost, they played hard
  • Can’t believe we lost 4 starters in 4 plays at the end of the game to injuries
  • What our season has been like
  • Yesterday was a great day at Revolution Church as we had my friend Jack Schull from Elements City Church come to preach
  • He did a great job
  • Love the relationships we are building with other churches and the unity among pastors that is started to grow in Tucson
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • I have been moved by the generosity I am seeing in our church during this season with our Christmas offering and our partnership with Magee middle school (where we meet)
  • If you haven’t given to our Christmas offering, you can do here 
  • We want to raise $10,000 to give away and fight sex trafficking in our city and plant churches and help bless Magee middle school
  • Read 2 incredible leadership books over the weekend: Leadership as an Identity and The Heart of Leadership
  • Excited to go and spend Wednesday with the other Acts 29 Pastors in Arizona
  • Love to be praying with them, sharpened by them and hear how God is moving in their churches
  • I’ve been reading John Stott’s book The Cross of Christ as I prepare to preach on the death of Jesus this week
  • Overwhelming when you consider all the angles of why Jesus died
  • And how I put Jesus on that cross and how clearly you can see my sin in the people who literally put Jesus on the cross in the gospels
  • We are not having a service on Christmas Eve this year
  • Instead, we will do a Christmas service on December 22nd about how to pick up the pieces of your year
  • You definitely don’t want to miss it as we wrap up the gospel of John that day
  • Not having a service on the 24th gives our volunteers a break and allows families to spend the time together
  • We will hand out materials to do the final advent reading as a family or individual on Dec. 22nd
  • On December 29th we are starting a brand new series that I am pumped about called Breathing Room
  • It is going to be an incredible 4 weeks as we talk about how to find breathing room in your life, schedule, work, money, with your family and health
  • Perfect way to start the new year
  • So many great things happening in the next month
  • Time to get at it