n his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey says it’s vital that leaders learn how to put first things first. And there’s no better illustration than this than rocks and pebbles. Perhaps you’ve seen it, but it works like this:
Put a bunch of pebbles in a jar, then add some larger rocks. The rocks won’t fit. But if you reverse the process, putting the rocks in first, the pebbles fill in the empty space.
What are the Rocks?
I believe every senior pastor has at least five big rocks.
1. Preaching and Teaching
This is urgent AND important. Your message is the most visible and the most important factor in church growth. My biggest tip…finish early in the week.
2. Developing Leaders
This is important but not always urgent. If you want to create a culture of leadership, you’ve got to be intentional. My biggest top…make a list of five leaders and make sure they show up on your calendar every month.
3. Strategic Planning
This is important, but rarely seems urgent. My biggest tip…schedule a half-day, out of the office time with you, your team, and an outside facilitator.
4. Financial Leadership
This is important, and reactions are urgent. You can’t delegate ultimate financial responsibility for the church, even if you’re not a “numbers guy.” My biggest tip…look at the same reports every week.
5. Personal Development
This is important, but not always urgent. Nobody but you can help you have better friends and mentors. My biggest tip…ask a pastor friend to go to a spiritual development conference with you…and pay his way.
You’ve got to be PROACTIVE to schedule, calendar and prioritize these five areas. If you’re not intentional with the big things, the little things will consume you. Pebbles are important, but they are not rocks, so don’t let pebbles push you to the edge.
What are the Pebbles?
There are smaller tasks that make their way to your inbox, and while these aren’t always important, they are sometimes urgent. Don’t forget about the pebbles, just keep them in perspective.
- Responding to email. My biggest tip…empty the inbox every day.
- Hospital or pastoral care visits. While you may not do ALL of these, you actually need to do SOME. My biggest tip…take somebody with you.
- Read blogs, articles and tweets. As helpful as this article is, reading it is just a pebble. My biggest tip…do this once a day.
- Meetings with people. My biggest tip…have coffee, not lunch.
When you understand the difference between the rocks and the pebbles, you’ll get more done. But more than that, you’ll get the most important things done.
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