The latest economic down-turn was tough on everyone, while I have my views on economics, politics, and faith during hard times, I will save those for another post. Everyone has been affected, and those of us on church staffs are no exception. Like any company, a church has bills to pay and mouths to feed. Economic down turn = people having less money = giving goes down = church budget gets cut = layoffs... well you all know the drill.
I can't tell you how many church TD's I have spoken to that have seen their church go through this very scenario. Those blessed enough to survive the carnage have had to take on multiple responsibilities, like becoming the Communications Director, the I.T. Director, the building Maintenance Supervisor, and even Worship Leader (and I'm not kidding about that one). While it's great to keep your job in these trying times, it can be overwhelming, tiring, and even depressing. It can make you question your calling and your sanity.
Not working in your strengths can zap you mentally, physically, and worst of all, spiritually. I realized how exhausted to the core I could become. Working against my grain in those times really took a toll on me.
Here are seven things that I am doing and I believe you can do to get back to working in your strength as well as prepare to stay resilient in changing times:
1. Assess you abilities and believe in them.
Ask someone you trust, someone that knows you well to help you list out your biggest strengths. Thank God for giving you those strengths and believe that you actually have them. If you don't truly believe that you have those God given strengths, you can never really work in them. Doubt is the enemy of effectiveness.
2. Figure out what takes you out of your strengths.
We so often work against ourselves. Time wasters and the "Tyranny Of Now" can move you away from working in your strengths. As TD's we are often asked to do things that we are not really good at, but better at than everyone else in the room. I call it being "the leper with the most fingers". Remember, just because you "can" do something, doesn't mean you "should."
3. Define what your actual daily, weekly, and monthly "Have To's" are.
What tasks in your job and life must be completed every week. Once you have them, write them down. Having them out of your head and on paper will let you schedule them and get them done every week. And that is always a good thing.
4. Learn to delegate / Staff to your weaknesses.
The best leaders I've worked with all surround themselves with people that are skilled at what they are not. So surround yourself with those that can or at least have the potential to do what you aren't really good at or don't want to spend your time on. And then, let them do it....... no really.
5. Get organized by getting a system.
One of my favorite books is Getting Things Done by David Allen. GTD is not new, but David Allen has compiled it in a way that is "do-able." You might actually use GTD as a framework for how the Tech Arts department works on a daily basis. If you get it out of your head and into a system, you will sleep better at night (so I've heard).
6. Take time to charge your batteries.
"Hello, I am Van and I am a workaholic." If you are like me, you could work at your church 24 hours a day and never get everything done. This list of projects will never end. Church and the U.S. Mail have a lot in common. To take a scene from the '90s sitcom Seinfeld:
"George: Let me ask you something... What do you do for a living, Newman? Newman: I'm a United States postal worker. George: Aren't those the guys that always go crazy and come back with a gun and shoot everybody? Newman: Sometimes. Jerry: Why is that? Newman: Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There's never a letup, It's relentless. Every day it piles up more and more, but the more you get out, the more it keeps coming. And then the bar code reader breaks. And then it's Publisher's Clearinghouse day?"
You get my point. Take your days off, Take your vacations, when It's time to go home, go. Sunday's coming, so be at your best for it.
Pray that God will help you work in your strengths give you wisdom to know what that means and grace to fill in the rest. God created you to accomplish what He wants you to. He is really good at making it clear if you ask and listen.