Life Management Skills

Study is a critical aspect of the pastor’s call. To maintain it requires vision and it requires some workable form of life management.

David Allen in his extremely helpful book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity has pointed out that we cannot manage time. We are only given a set amount of it and we don’t control it. Rather, he advocates managing our workflow, and in a bigger way, managing our lives within the set parameters time gives us. “GTD” has been very helpful for me. (If you think I’m a mess now, you should have seen me before I read this book.) A helpful introduction can be found here.

Eugene Peterson in a wonderful chapter called “The Unbusy Pastor” (about which I should write more sometime) from his book The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction sings the praises of the appointment calendar. This is the tool with which to gain control of one’s life, says Peterson, especially to wrest control away from dominant and insistent people. He says, “The authority once given to Scripture is now ascribed to the appointment calendar. The dogma of verbal inerrancy has not been discarded, only re-assigned. When I appeal to my appointment calendar, I am beyond criticism….”

And such considerations would not be complete without reference to another helpful resource from another experienced (and scarred) pastor, Gordon MacDonald. In Ordering Your Private World MacDonald gives what he calls ‘MacDonald’s Laws of Unseized Time’. These speak for themselves, and they are all absolutely true.

Law #1: Unseized time flows toward my weaknesses.

Law #2: Unseized time comes under the influence of dominant people in my world.

Law #3: Unseized time surrenders to the demands of all emergencies.

Law #4: Unseized time gets invested in things that gain public acclamation.

Our big point is that preachers/pastors need to be masters at exegeting scripture and exegeting culture. To do either demands time. To do both demands discipline.

3 thoughts on “Life Management Skills

  1. TulipGirl

    You know, sometimes I wish there was a "thumbs up" icon to click on blog posts like there is on facebook. I don't have anything to say, really — just, I liked reading this post. (And liked reading that my pastor is intentional in prioritizing his time.)

  2. Rebekah

    "…we cannot manage time. We are only given a set amount of it and we don’t control it." So true that is in my life…!

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