Are you overwhelmed by your ministry work load?

ministry workI was talking with a pastor I’m coaching and asked, “How are you?” She said, “It’s September…” She suggested a blog post on the topic, so here goes…

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in ministry. There’s the constant pressure of preparing for Sunday, the inevitable interruptions, the evening meetings. Not to mention the email.

I just got some great tips for dealing with being overwhelmed from Lynne Twist (author of The Soul of Money). Lynne often talks about sufficiency. She suggests we do all we can to stay in a place of sufficiency – that we are enough, and we have enough time. I try to tell myself I have enough time to do everything God wants me to do. I truly believe that (even though I forget it sometimes), for myself, and for you in your ministry.

Here are some tips Lynne Twist shared. The first four come from the work of Edward Hallowell, and the fifth is one of Lynne’s, along with a few of my own remarks on each.

  1. Work on your highest priorities in your highest energy time.

You know what that is. For me, it’s morning.

  1. Refuse to rush.

I know I never do my best work when I’m rushing. Right now I’m trying to focus intently and work fast without rushing.

  1. Cultivate the “lilies” and avoid the “leeches.”

Lilies are the people, projects and priorities you love, and the leeches are the ones that drain you. I know that in church ministry you can’t always completely avoid the people leeches, but I believe you can set limits with them so they don’t drain you so much.

4. Put things in real priority order.

I think this means being honest about what we really are going to work on now, and what we’re going to set aside for later. I find myself keeping things on my list and never doing anything about them. I’m trying to set them aside for now, and pick a few key projects, rather than pretending to myself I can do more than is humanly possible.

  1. Let go of the things you’re not working on when you’re not working on them.

We spent a lot of time worrying about projects and tasks when we’re not and cannot be working on them. Then we’re not present to the people (including our families) and tasks that are right in front of us.

What are some ways you deal with that overwhelmed feeling?

And here’s a post on nine ways to simplify your ministry.

4 Responses to Are you overwhelmed by your ministry work load?

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Great share. Hadn’t heard the 90/15. Gonna try it.

  2. Thanks, Dwight. I also like 90 minute segments with a 15 minute break (or if I’m really having trouble, I’ll make it 45/15).

  3. Dwight Robarts says:

    Hi Margaret. Good post. I think it helps me as much as possible to do one thing at a time and finish it before moving to the next priority. Multi-tasking is overrated and counter productive. Creating a rhythm that works for you is a good move to manage our workload and stress. According to Tony Schwartz, studies of elite athletes and musicians show that they work best in 90 minute increments with breaks of 15-30 minutes in between to take a walk or do something fun and different. For me, I try to work on my #1 priority from 8:30-10AM each day

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