Sunday has rolled around again. You are making sure volunteers are in their places and figuring out what to do about who didn’t show. The pencils are missing, and the check-in system is down. One parent needs advice, and another has complaints.
Monday and Tuesday are filled with solving all of Sunday’s problems. Wednesday is focused on preparing for mid-week programming. Thursday is spent preparing for Sunday. Friday is supposed to be your day off, but you use it to finish up all of those never-ending last-minute details. And, lo and behold, it’s Sunday all over again.
Our kidmin pace is continual because Sunday is coming.
However, it isn’t just a week-to-week pattern, it is seasonal as well. Back to school leads to Fall Festival which leads into Christmas which leads into Easter which leads into end of school which leads into summer and then back again.
We get so swamped in the details that our whole focus becomes getting through Sunday. We lead reactively as we respond to whatever the latest crisis is. And, many times, we feel like we are barely hanging on.
When we get stuck in this pattern, we aren’t truly leading. We are simply managing problems. God has so much more for you and for your ministry.
Stepping Toward Intentionality
It is time for us to take a step back from the day-to-day demands and examine how to transition to intentional leadership.
Intentional leadership is leading on purpose. It is when you know what you want to accomplish and how you want to get there. You know the priorities of your ministry. You fight to keep those at the forefront. Intentional leadership means you have a plan, and you invest your time in ways that move that plan forward. It is proactive, not reactive in nature.
How can we lead intentionally when the demands are constant?
The very first step is realizing that God put you in this place of leadership. Since you are the one He called, you are also the one who must step up and own what He’s calling you to do. You owe it to Him, the kids, the parents, and your congregation to be the most effective leader you can be.
The good news is that every leader can lead intentionally. It takes a disciplined and determined leader to choose that path.
By taking these six steps, you can become an intentional leader.
1. Make time to think big.
You are not going to accidentally find time to set your goals and big picture plan for your ministry. Intentional leaders block out time to work “on” ministry, not just “in” it. This time may be a regular personal retreat, or an hour blocked out in your week to evaluate goals, dreams, and strategies.
Outline what you feel God wants you to accomplish.
2. Set your priorities.
Based on your goals and strategies, what are the most important things you need to work on? List everything that you have to do during the week including the tasks necessary to accomplish your overall goals and vision.
Put that list in priority order.
3. Give away parts of your job.
Go back to that priority list. What is on the list that other people can do? Are there responsibilities that you can let another staff member do or tasks that you can equip a volunteer to do?
Intentional leaders focus on the items on their priority list that only they can do. You can find a high schooler to come set up the kids’ worship space. You can use your time to invest in families or plan an outreach event.
4. Plan your week.
Before your week begins, set aside thirty minutes to look at your calendar. Use your list of priorities and make “appointments” for yourself to work on the most important things. Also schedule time for those recurring tasks that you know must be done.
Show grace to yourself during the week because the rest of the world may not follow your calendar. However, because you have a plan and are not just running from fire to fire, you should be able to adapt more easily.
5. Communicate your vision and incorporate it into everything you do.
Intentional leadership means that you are intentionally leading others.
You can have all the best plans, but if no one knows where you are leading them, it is going to make zero difference.
6. Be present where you are.
One reason to share the load of to-dos with other people is so that you are free to fully focus on the people in front of you. There have been way too many Sunday mornings when I have neglected to connect with people because I had to locate missing crayons or find a nursery volunteer.
Intentional leaders are purposeful about handling details in a way that frees them up to truly engage the people God has sent their way. It really is about relationship.
Ministry can be overwhelming. There’s a great chance you’re reading this and scoffing. Who has time to really plan and delegate when Sunday is always coming?
Intentional leadership is not another “to-do.” It is an approach that will free you from the reactionary insanity of ministry so you can truly do what God has called you to.
Don’t be overwhelmed. Seek to be an intentional leader and see what God does.