Change of Perspective
Mark Batterson developed a formula a few years ago that has really been helpful to me:
It's Biblical. Moses set up the tent of meeting. Jesus withdrew to the wilderness. Peter climbed to the roof to pray.
When I first began working at NCC, Mark encouraged me to establish regular "focus days" where I could get out of the office and look at the big picture. He said, "This job will catch up with you quickly, so make sure you take the time to step back."
In the beginning, I was really good at maintaining focus days on my calendar. And then the inevitable happened-- the job caught up with me. There were leaders to meet with, and group registration deadlines to enforce, and leadership trainings to teach, and sermons to prepare, and small groups to lead, and lessons to write. Things were too busy and the needs too demanding to take the luxury of a focus day. I was too busy leading to focus. Or so I thought. Now I realize that I was so bogged down in the details and the noise of daily life and ministry that I was actually maintaining more than leading.
If we don't take the time to focus, we cannot effectively lead.
On Wednesday, I went out to Great Falls for the day. My backpack was loaded with books, a calendar, a task list, and a copy of our recent leadership survey. I spent 5 hours reading, praying, and processing, and I accomplished more in those 5 hours than I would typically accomplish in a couple of days at the office.
Make focus days a part of your regular ministry rhythm. You need the change of pace and the change of place to give you the right perspective.
Here are some ideas:
- Get out of the office. Whatever you do, this is most important.
- Practice the spiritual discipline of "unplugging" for a day. This is the postmodern equivalent of silence and solitude.
- Go to a place that helps you focus on God and think creatively. For me, that typically means somewhere outside, an art museum, or a cathedral.
- Set some goals for the day. My goal for Wednesday was to process the leadership survey in one sitting, to read two books, and to be proactive in scheduling for our Fall semester. Goals in the past have included the following: finish a writing project, brainstorm theme and content for a retreat, pray and reconnect with God, develop a teaching series.