Welcome to the beginning of another year, and the perfect time to hit the reset button on some weekly practices that will help you maximize your leadership and stay organized throughout the year. Please don’t think of these as the standard New Year’s resolution plans, but rather a set of practices that become part of your life. Something that’s always been true but experienced to a greater degree in 2020 is that we never really know what the future holds for us.
There will always be varying levels of uncertainty and challenge, and I learned to a greater degree last year the importance of having consistent practices amidst the uncertainty that often shows up in our lives and in our work. So, I hope that these practices give you some consistency, keep you organized, and help you maximize your leadership for this year and beyond.
- Spend time each weekend reviewing the previous week and planning for the week ahead. Establish the time that works best for you, and stick to the same time each weekend so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. I’ve found that Sunday night is a good time for this, and for many of you that are on staff at churches Sunday is already a work day so it fits with you.
- Have weekly goals. If you are a goal setter, then you’ve probably already established your goals for 2021, but have you taken the extra step to break those goals down into manageable chunks? When your annual goals have weekly or monthly checkpoints it keeps you engaged and working towards something rather than fizzling out along the way. If you want to learn about the goal setting process more specifically, I talk about it here on Student Ministry That Matters.
- Reserve time for yourself. As you plan your week, make sure you are scheduling meetings with yourself. One of the things that I lost and fought to regain in 2020 was carving out time to think specifically about a problem and how to solve it. There were so many other meetings that my personal meetings fell by the wayside, and with it, the creative problem-solving and forward thinking idea time. The solution is to book time with yourself, with an agenda, and to aggressively protect that time. If you don’t do this, you will be stuck in the tyranny of the urgent. which will hinder your leadership and potentially burn you out.
- Rest. This looks different for everyone. For some it may be actual sleep, while for others it means time in the outdoors, a hobby, or exercising in some way. If you don’t schedule it these are the things that will be neglected first and are actually the most damaging for the long term when we neglect them.
- Find a tool that helps you. I personally use Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner because I prefer to write with pen and paper for this kind of work, and because of the integrated goal setting that is provided. The important thing here is that you choose the tool that works best for you to track your calendar, to-do list, notes, and goals. It’s not enough to just keep it all in your head or on random notes. Take the extra step to have one place where you keep all of these things.
- Connect with a friend. The simple truth is that we need each other. You can’t do this work or life alone, and you’re not meant to. Intentionally plan to connect with a friend each week. It could be the same friend or someone you haven’t connected with in a while, but make sure that this is part of your weekly rhythm. It’s easy to feel like we’re alone in something when in truth, we aren’t. Take the extra step to connect with someone every week this year, and you may find that you’re not as alone in life, leadership, or ministry in the way you thought you were.
I’m stepping into 2021’s journey with you. We don’t know what lies ahead, and there’s both excitement and apprehension in that reality, but I know for certain that these practices will help you approach this year with readiness. I wish you well in this new year, and as always, I want you to know my team and I are here to support you along the way. We believe in you.
This post was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of Lifeway Students. Ben is passionate about investing in student ministry leaders like you. You can find more encouragement from Ben on his YouTube Channel, Student Ministry That Matters.