What Do You Do When Deadlines are Pressing in on You?
Right now, many deadlines are pressing in on me. Has that ever happened to you? I remember when the only pressure I had was that of sermon preparation for Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. While those deadlines were pressing in on me weekly and it was real, it seems the longer I am in ministry the more deadlines I face.
I have the weekly deadline of Sunday sermon preparation but if I speak away from my church during the week, then responsibilities increase. Three weeks ago I preached on Sunday morning, spoke in Alabama on Tuesday, spoke in Missouri on Thursday, hosted and spoke at our Men’s Conference on Friday and Saturday, went through Sunday, and then left for the Holy Land on Monday.
Most of the way to Israel, I was working on church matters and preparing to speak to our tour group while in the Holy Land. While on the way home, sermon preparation was raging again and additional writing assignments, both for our church and others that serve the greater body of Christ, were looming. Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines.
Every pastor and leader I know experiences the pressure and inevitability of deadlines. For most of us, those deadlines have something to do with preparation. As I evaluate my life and schedule, I give most of my life to preparation. I am always preparing to speak, or write, or lead a meeting.
It occurs to me, that deadlines pressure and influence pastors and leaders continually. Therefore, what do you do when the deadlines are pressing in on you?
Let me suggest you take the following actions:
Prioritizing your commitments is imperative. I encourage you to take the time to list all the deadlines set before you. For a pastor, I believe our number one assignment is to feed the people of God from the Word of God. Great teaching and preaching will cover a multitude of your sins! Never let your preparation of teaching the Word slide. This is why I give my mornings to God.
Once you have written down all of your demands and pressing deadlines, prioritize. Determine what is first, second, and beyond. Operate and work your way down the list. Check off the accomplishments one by one. Any leader under pressure always does better when he knows progress is being made.
Preparation is the commitment to get “it” done and to get “it” done in the highest manner. Nothing eases the tension and pressure more than preparation. Therefore:
Prepare for the best.
Prepare for the worst.
Prepare for success.
Position yourself to finish the task. As you prioritize your demands and prepare to get your assignments done, you are positioning yourself for success one task at a time. As progress is being made on your to-do list and deadlines are being met, you are positioning yourself for peace rather than pressure.
We don’t talk about it much in ministry, but let’s get real; we are expected to produce! I have always identified with football coaches and I have been blessed to have many of them come through my ministry. Our church’s proximity to the University of Arkansas has afforded me many coaching friends over the years.
The one thing coaches and I have talked about is how people expect us to produce! While pastors do not have a scoreboard like coaches, people keep score on us daily. Most coaches and most pastors I know realize that if things do not go well and progress, sooner or later, it will not be good. There is a price to pay for success and there is a price to pay for a lack of success.
I know that I can be more productive when I prioritize matters that are pressing on me. When I refuse to quit and increase my commitment to prepare, God seems to get me through. As breathing room is experienced and latitude occurs, I position myself for greater productivity.
Daily I pray through various demands being placed upon me. Daily I pray through speaking requests away from Cross Church or writing assignments requested of me by the greater body of Christ. Daily I pray through all I have before me here.
Therefore, when I pray, my heart rests in the Lord. My pressure lessens. My peace grows. My intentionality is focused. And the deadlines fall one at a time! Giving everything to God and talking about issues and tasks specifically with Him, leads me to a life led by the Holy Spirit of God. This is my peace in the midst of the pressure.