As the phone rings you dread the idea of picking it up.  It’s not about who is on the other line as much as it is what that phone call might do to your day.  As you pick up the receiver you hope it’s a call that’s quick with no follow up.  Phone calls, emails, and paperwork are only a few of the things that clutter our schedule.  The reason they clutter is not because there are many, but because they are disorganized.  And when you are disorganized in what you do, you experience:

BOUNDARY ISSUES
When our boundaries have been violated it’s easy to start throwing around the blame and losing focus on what’s important.  If you are going to have any chance of getting anything done in youth ministry, let alone survive the week you need to know what you are doing and why you are doing them.  This will help you set-up boundaries that are realistic and flexible; yet, will keep you on the right path.  To organize your responsibilities and stay within the boundaries you need to know:

WHAT IS IMPORTANT – It’s easy for a youth minister to become a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none and that’s because of a lack of focus.  If you are going to create any type of boundaries you need to know what has to fill up your day.  To figure this out you need to create a list of everything you do and narrow it down to the five most important responsibilities that only you can do.  The rest can be discarded or delegated.

WHAT IS URGENT – Urgent responsibilities are the unexpected events that have to be done; however, are not planned.  A perfect example is the death or illness of a teen in your ministry.  To work with the unexpected you need to be able to SCHEDULE IN MARGIN and COMMUNICATE WITH THOSE CLOSE TO YOU.  Scheduling in margin will give you leeway when something urgent comes across your desk like a teen in need.  Communicating with those close to you will enable you to talk about when family or personal time might need to be sacrificed.

WHAT IS DISPENSABLE – There are probably habits, meetings and responsibilities that you do that are no longer necessary.  To figure out which ones to keep and which ones to toss, list them and then by each item ask the questions, “What is its purpose?” and “How is this fueling us towards our vision?” If you cannot answer these questions toss them.  If there are ones you should keep but are not necessary for you to accomplish look at passing them on to a trusted volunteer or coworker.

When you can determine the importance and necessity of certain responsibilities you can build a healthy calendar.  The reason you leave an hour later than planned or continue to work at home is because you have organized your day.  After you know what it is you need to do and you paint out that 40 – 45 hour work week, ask God to give you the grace to do it.  After all he wants you to succeed, he doesn’t want you to compromise your family time or Sabbath.  Trust him.

How do you know what’s important, what’s urgent and what’s dispensable for your youth ministry?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.