Is It Excessive? Part Three: Do I run my calendar or does it run me?

During the holiday season it’s as if time shrinks, maybe even disappear.  From Christmas parties, to shopping, getting ready for Christmas and Christmas Eve services, to planning out summers it’s almost like we spend our time filling our time.  There’s a common myth out there that being busy means being successful.  Couldn’t be further from the truth.  Because if we are always busy, then we are constantly moving and if we are constantly moving we never get rest.  On top of that, busyness can lead to chaos because being busy means concentrating on many different things, which means a lack of focus.
In this last segment of Is it Excessive? I want to address the excessive calendars youth ministers are guilty of constructing and how we can be more focused so that we can go from being run by our calendars to managing them wisely.  It all starts with:
Keeping a Schedule: Well, duh! But come on, how many of us keep a schedule?  I know we have calendars but not all of us have schedules…let me explain.  A schedule is a plan for carrying out certain deeds or tasks, a calendar just marks dates.  If all you have is a calendar all you will have is a conglomerate of randomness.  In a schedule you’ll have time for things like:

  • Prayer
  • Rest
  • Learning
  • Planning
  • Prepping
  • Meeting
  • Eating 

If you keep a schedule, you’ll have a plan and when you have a plan you have vision.  Next you’ll want to:
Examine The Purpose: Everything that is on your calendar should move you towards your vision.  Nothing should be on your calendar for calendar’s sake because then it means it’s pointless.  Yeah it might be fun or popular but if it doesn’t have purpose, it doesn’t lead to vision.  I know initially we’ll feel pressured to plan something because teens want the lock-in, ski trip or cookout.  That’s why we need to ask questions like:

  • Why do we do what we do? (i.e. fellowship, evangelization, worship, ministry, discipleship)
  • Does it lead students into our church or away from our church?
  • How will this emphasize the ministries’ vision?
  • Is this draining me because I’m out of my comfort zone or because in over my head?
  • Is this the right event at the right time or should we hold off?

Doing something out of the ordinary can be very beneficial, the problem comes when we start filling up our calendar with random events.  Our calendar needs to flow with our schedule, if it doesn’t then we’re going to find ourselves in competing systems.  But for some of us it’s not a problem making a calendar and if that’s you then just make sure you:
Review and Reconstruct: Never let your schedule and calendar sit.  In fact schedule time to review the process and reconstruct anything that seems off kilter.  We can’t come up with the perfect schedule that will adapt with us over time, we need to tweak it.  What works today may not work in the future, especially if you hope for your ministry to grow.  The more it grows the more there will be to take on.  Plus when you schedule in time to review and reconstruct your holding yourself accountable to making sure you maintain and build margin.  Without margin, there is no room to breathe and then our ministries suffocate.
I want to thank all of you who followed this series.  We need to be aware of our excessiveness because it will always lead to burn out.  If you create productive meetings, cast vision in what you say, listen to those who need to be heard and pace yourself in a healthy manner, there’s no saying how far God will take you.  I would love to write about different areas where we can be excessive in ministry, but before I do I would love to hear what you all think.  In fact where is there an area that you feel most youth ministers struggle when it comes to doing too much?