How many of these statements describe you?
• You pride yourself on working 50+ hours a week at the church.
• You frequently miss personal and family events and cancel plans with friends.
• You say, “Let me just finish this one thing” all the time.
• You check email after midnight and/or the second you wake up.
• Your kids have to holler at you—several times—to get you to look up from your laptop.

Believe me, this is a test you don’t want to ace. You need a break. You need to “go dark” once in a while. It’s not good to be “on” all the time. Two reasons we resist this are:

1. Unhealthy expectations. Often we don’t turn it off because our senior pastor or supervisor doesn’t let us—or at least that’s what we think. We assume overworking is a sign of good job performance, when it really drives us to a dangerous place and perpetuates unreasonable expectations. If you manage others, set an example by going home on time. If you’re job-hunting, inquire about typical work habits. And if you’re in a bad situation, get out or nudge the culture toward health.

2. Brokenness. It’s easy to fall into the trap of self-importance, even outright arrogance. Will the world really fall apart if you miss youth group one week? It feels nice to be noticed when you’re gone, but we take it too far. Pray that God will help you fight against personal insecurities and mold your heart into healthy balance.

There’s hope, but it starts with some tough changes. See below for a few tips for fighting back against unhealthy expectations and brokenness.

Go + Stop + Go = Health!
• First, pray for your heart and health.
• Start every day in time with God.
• Track your hours and see where you can gain back some time.
• Take a day off every week.
• Turn off email alerts on your day off.
• Don’t bring your laptop home.
• Limit the number of nights you’re away from home each week.
• Find a hobby that fills you up.
• Have a frank conversation with your boss about hours and expectations.
• Practice saying no.
• Schedule vacation time right now for the next two years.
• Invite accountability in this area.

Originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!

Operation Slow-Down

Josh Griffin —  May 22, 2012 — 1 Comment

It’s time for youth group to start, and I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off, finishing last-second details. (Sound familiar?) Deep inside, I know I’m telling every young person, “I don’t have time for you.” But my to-do list beckons.

If someone naïvely dares to stop me, I nervously fidget and struggle to maintain eye contact because I’m worried about dropping the ball on the looming program. I peer over this mere mortal’s shoulder and silently freak out as the countdown to start time nears zero. I pacify the person who caused this momentary diversion with a shallow promise to connect later in the week. Although I know that probably won’t happen, I desperately need to return to the important task at hand. Just to make sure I’m not stopped again, I take out my phone, participate in a ghost call, and resume my pace.

Ouch! Enough confessional time. Here’s my new plan to conduct Operation Slow-Down:

• I will ease my pace. Walk. More. Slowly. Resist the urge to end conversations quickly and move on to the next project. I want the pace of leisure to be my default and attentiveness to be my act of generosity.

• I will dial-in the program in advance. Work hard during the week so the youth service or meeting goes off without a hitch. Don’t save last-minute details for when people are arriving. Make it a goal to be standing around, with nothing to do, 10 minutes before the first young person walks through the door. That way, you’ll be ready to fully engage with kids.

• I will care about people and the program. I’m a program person all the way. Nothing’s more exciting to me than sharing the timeless message of Christ in creative ways. Tension will always exist between presenting a top-notch service or meeting and spending time with people. But final details and adjustments shouldn’t crowd out expressions of love. Care about the program, care about the creative elements, be proud of your innovative message or creative mini-movie that you spent several late nights sweating over. But be keenly aware of the people who might need you beforehand.

Trying to outdo yourself can become a vicious cycle. So stop walking around with such urgency. Instead, overflow with love for the listeners. After all, that’s who you’re trying to reach.

Originally appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!



I might not be the best person to take time management advice from – I perpetually run about 15 minutes late to everything. So I don’t have it all together but have found a few ways to squeeze a little extra productivity out of the work week. Here are a few of the ones I like the most:

Get a 10-minute jump start on your day the night before
This one might not be the best one for everyone in case it would upset your restful sleep – but for me I can get a ton of work started if I do a quick check in right before bed. Once the family is set for the night and the house is quiet, I like to steal 10 minutes on webmail to set the day tomorrow. Maybe a quick scan of the calendar, a short reply, or an awareness of tomorrow’s challenges help me prepare mentally for the next day.

Turn off work on your day(s) off
When it is time to be off – be off! I realize that many church cell phones are also your personal phone, but you’ve got to shut them down. If you play hard, it’ll help you focus on work when it is time to work. Religiously take a day off, and make sure you’re really off.

Ditch TV unless you’re exercising or being productive
A great way to make sure you get both exercise and entertainment in during the week is to combine them. If you find yourself killing too much time on the couch, limit the amount of TV you watch by time on the treadmill. You might be surprised by what you could do (start a blog, write a book) if you force yourself to be productive at the same time or drop TV altogether.

Cut the distractions in the office
Turn off your email alerts. Disable Facebook’s constant stream of interruptions. Make sure Twitter isn’t always stealing your focus and concentration. Close your door if you have to. When you give yourself wholly to a task or complete it, reward yourself with a social media break or walk around the church office.

Lump similar tasks together
Let’s say you have to make 5 phone calls, write 15 cards, return 16 emails and work on budgets with multiple people. By putting these tasks into chunks of time you’ll be able to knock them out more quickly. Get in a rhythm, crank out the calls or projects all at once.

How do you squeeze more work into your work week?

JG