Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mind Like Water

Mind Like Water

As pastors, we should be caring mostly about higher-level stuff - seeing God’s vision for our churches, understanding our unique calling, roles and goals, balance, priorities, meaning, and purpose. We should be reaching our communities with the undeniably attractive gospel and a unique message for these last days.

But I think a huge barrier to understanding and implementing the “higher-level” stuff is the clutter we carry around in our heads every day. I was once told that pastors basically get paid to carry the details and needs of the church around in their heads 24/7/365. That made sense to me. It made sense because it resonated with my experience.

David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done, talks about all of the little things we have to do every day as the “runway” things. They are the current reality of things on the ground. Most of us never see things from “10,000 feet,” “20,000 feet,” or “30,000 feet” because we have so much clutter on the runway that we can never really take off.

That clutter on the runway is the same clutter in your brain that you carry around 24/7/365. You reason, “if I don’t think about it all the time, who will?”

The beauty of the Getting Things Done process is that it captures all of those things - duties, expectations, goals, appointments, plans, projects, tasks, hopes and dreams - into a leak-proof organizational system that you can trust completely.

If you know the organizational system will remind you of everything you need to know exactly when you need to know it, you can take it out of your brain and stop worrying about it all the time. Your stress level (and blood pressure) will go down. You’ll quit being constantly overwhelmed by all of the “stuff” you have to deal with. And you’ll be able to think about the more important, “higher-level” things.

David Allen (borrowing a zen image) refers to this sense of peace as having a “mind like water.” Just like water in a pond, your mind should be at peace most of the time. And it should only react when something is thrown into it. Water reacts exactly in proportion to the object thrown into it - with a big splash for a big rock, or a little ripple for a small pebble. And when the reaction is over, it goes back to a state of peace.

If we all had a “mind like water,” I believe we would be better able to listen for God’s voice, discern His leading, do better strategic planning, truly enter into a Sabbath rest, and ultimately become the pastors God wants us to be. So before you can really get into the “higher-level” stuff, you need to really learn to manage all of the “runway” stuff.

You do that by getting all of your open loops out of your head and onto lists, where you can see, analyze, plan, and do them.


This week I'm guest blogging over at JustPastors.com. They've asked me to write about Time Management for Clergy - specifically GTD. This entry is from that series (even though some of the information is a repeat of what I've written here previously).

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