1st February 2018
Whatever happened to January? It seems to have flown by! This year, with a summer sabbatical fast approaching, my diary is being squeezed as I try to fit in all that needs to be completed in the next four months. A few days ago, a young pastor contacted me about meeting up to talk through some leadership challenges he’s facing. Whilst I was keen to make time for him, I was only able to offer him a date once I return from sabbatical in the autumn.
Before going into pastoral ministry, I was involved in selling computer systems in the printing industry. This was back in the days of page makeup, when the early Apple Macs were just coming onto the market – it was that long ago! My company paid well, gave me a nice car and generous commission on any sales made, but the role also came with an annual sales target of £750k – a lot of money back in the eighties! It was up to me to make it happen. I had to decide whether to visit existing clients or concentrate on looking for new business. I had to work out whether a long journey in the car to visit a potential client was worth making. There was no daily structure provided, no weekly or monthly rhythms – I had to learn to be self-motivated, planning and organising how I spent my days to achieve the goals I had been set.
I have observed over the years that many pastors struggle with the number and variety of tasks that come with the role. Sometimes, it is a real challenge to assess what should be a priority and what could wait – it can feel as if everything is screaming for our attention. When this is the case, I find it helpful to list each task and then categorise each one as A, B or C, according to its degree of importance. I find this prevents me from feeling overwhelmed and spending time on the wrong things – it helps me identify the priorities among the many demands. This is also an exercise I go through from time-to-time with any members of staff who report to me – it helps them to know which of the many items on their to-do list I view as being most important.
With my sabbatical now less than four months away, I am trusting that the lessons I learned in my sales days will help me prioritise wisely, focus on the right things and make optimum use of the time remaining. Hopefully, I will then reach the end of May finish line knowing that everything is in place for me to be away for the summer.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.