Few people truly understand the demands of ministry. Essentially, success or failure as a church leader materializes from the accumulation of daily choices that can either drive you in a dynamic direction or push you into a wall.
Personal disciplines are simply everyday habits that are relentlessly applied each day. What precise disciplines are the most important to you as you lead your ministry? Use the following list of personal disciplines for church leaders to spark your thoughts about areas where you need to develop.
1. Plan Regularly.
Do you set aside time every day and each week to plan? If this discipline is irregular or even non-existent in your life, consider being more intentional about planning. Start each day with prayer and a plan. At the end of each day, spend 10 to 15 minutes assessing how well you accomplished your goals and then begin planning for the next day.
Consistency is key; navigating a similar path each week leads to greater chance of personal growth as a church leader. Get into the groove of doing this regularly, and your daily productivity will skyrocket. Even if on occasion you fall behind, you will still become more disciplined.
2. Focus Intentionally.
Do you devote time every day to the most important work that needs to be done? Personal time spent in God’s Word and prayer will direct your path quicker than any other habit. It’s very easy for the urgent to crowd out the important, getting caught up in the flow of miniscule transactions – emails, texts, calls – and losing valuable time to focus on the major issues of the day. Many church leaders have trouble getting the major work done.
Personally discipline yourself to set aside a segment of time every day, even as little as thirty minutes, where you can isolate, put your phone on silent, ignore emails and texts, and focus on God's voice.
3. Commit Carefully.
Do you ever make commitments without deliberation or taking the time to consider the consequences of saying yes? Have you ever said yes to a commitment because you want to be perceived as an eager team player or involved Pastor, only to kick yourself later because it has complicated your life? Take time to consider every request. Determine how much time you will need to deliver quality work and how the request might fit into your existing schedule and workload.
If you find yourself at the top of your stress curve, you must discipline yourself to know when to say yes, no, or maybe later. Otherwise, church leaders are bound to face burnout.
4. Elevate Occasionally.
Sometimes, it’s important to pause, stand back, gain a broader perspective, and then begin to make productive adjustments. It’s often phrased in the field of church leadership as “getting off the floor and going to the balcony,” or, as I prefer to say, “catching a glimpse of God’s perspective.”
Effective church leaders are the few who go to the balcony when they find themselves in difficult situations causing pressurized emotional escalation. They take themselves out of the fray to understand what is really going on because that is where perspective is the clearest. You can affect some change from the balcony, but to have impact you must return to the floor. Discipline yourself to engage in a productive gaze about your ministry situation from a very high point of view - God’s view!
Discipline is required to excel as a church leader. If you repeat something long enough it will become a discipline. Of course, training yourself in these areas can be difficult, but the effort will lead to results that make it all worth it.
What are some habits you've adopted that have provided the most personal growth?
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