One of the components of the training for New Church Start and Revitalization Ministries in the Cal-Pac Conference has been a frank discussion about how to organize your life.
We began the discussion asking folks what they used for life management tools. The concept is that you cannot manage time, it is what it is. However, life can be managed by setting priorities and maintaining some sort of organization.
Many talked of calendars and this was promptly taken to task. A calendar sets a date on a page, but does not set the prep time and timeline for such a "date". The alternative was a program calendar, or for those who use PDAs and Outlook to preset the calendar with this as an ongoing "event".
Issues of self-care were also entered in the mix since New Church Starts and Revitalization Ministries take a whole lot of energy and can over-demand your time and attention, ultimately consuming your life. One of the participants gave a stirring reflection on the lessons of "Engage/Disengage" as a focus. This concept helps him to establish home as home and work as work, and fully engaging work when it is time and fully engaging home when he is there. It reminds me of the story of the worker who stopped by the tree at the front of the house on his way in each and every day. Someone asked him one day about the stop at the tree and the worker remarked "that is my trouble tree. Every day I stop there and deposit my troubles of the day, and then pick them up again in the morning, but somehow they always seem lighter in the morning."
Another person presented the approach of praying through the hours, as a focus for life, that helps let God set the agenda for the day. The comment was made about using the praying of the hours, "To follow Jesus is to let him determine the purpose and pace of your life." That kind of discipline is powerful witness.
Another perspective was to help us with the management of tasks, and still staying engaged with people. Our host offered this model: 4x4x4x4. That is to say that every day ought to hold at least 4 calls, 4 visits, 4 members and 4 notes (email, letters, note).
All of this was to help us direct our thoughts about how we function in managing our life and energy. The final point for directing our self learning was that we discern our "pastoral season". In other words, what skills do you bring to the table, and what period of the life of the church is best suited by these skills, as well as the sometimes more frustrating realization that your time has ended in the particular phase of ministry and it is time to move on.