Regularly winnowing out bad habits is just as important to the senior pastor’s health as establishing healthy goals.
Bob Goff, bestselling author of Love Does, says he makes it a habit to quit something every Thursday. I think senior pastors would benefit from doing this annually.
There are two things I know for certain about people like you and me:
1. We routinely do things that self-sabotage our health, emotional well-being and ministry effectiveness.
2. We know these things exist, but don’t address them, because we refuse to take time to catch our breath, prayerfully write them down, then drive a stake in the ground and say, “NO MORE.”
Last week I finally made time.
Below is my “To NOT Do” list.
It’s based on all the things I’m NOT proud of that I did last year.
I’ve asked each of my staff members to create a similar list and bring it to an upcoming staff meeting. We’ll share our lists with each other, then pray for strength to leave our self-sabotaging behaviors behind for good.
I want to encourage you to do this with your staff, and then if you’re willing, share your list on social media. If you do, please tag me.
To make going public easier, I’ll go first…
Brian Jones’ “To NOT Do” List
1. I will not allow myself to emotionally eat when I’m under extraordinary amounts of pressure like I did last year. I will pre-plan healthy eating options and healthy ways to blow off steam other than eating food, watching television or surfing the web.
2. I will not allow myself to view my ministry here as “my” ministry. As the church gets larger, I will work harder to make sure my wife serves alongside me and has ample opportunities to express her giftedness.
3. I will not allow day-to-day matters to keep me from planning the most compelling sermon series’ possible. Plutarch noted that Spartan mothers used to tell their sons, “Come back with your shield—or on it,” as they went off to war. Because preaching is more important than everything else I do combined, I will go off-site to engage in advanced study with the same warrior-like intensity and valor.
4. I will not allow “C leaders” (followers) to pressure me into meeting with them during the week when I have more important priorities to accomplish. I will learn to say no to “C leaders” (followers) so I can say yes to developing the “A leaders” (leaders of leaders) who will love and lead them.
5. I will not give out my cell phone number and private email address to people who shouldn’t have them. I will risk looking like I don’t care so I can avoid being pulled in 50 directions.
6. I will not ignore planning my week’s top five to six priorities on Sunday afternoon. I will not allow myself to push them aside when “more important” matters arise. I will make a note of these new issues and incorporate them into next week’s focus.
7. I will not sacrifice theological integrity to grow this church. I will not play to the theological bottom line, no matter how much pressure I feel as the church grows. I will keep 1 Timothy 4:16 before me at all times.
8. I will not allow myself to ignore preaching on hard things for fear that people will leave. I will trust that winnowing the presence of people offended by the gospel will only make us stronger.
9. I will not accept mediocre sermon content from myself when I know I’m capable of preaching excellent sermons every week. I will prepare for each Sunday like it is Christmas Eve or Easter because for someone far from God, it is.
10. I will not work on Fridays and Saturdays. I will trust that consistently working 60 hours a week Sunday through Thursday will be sufficient to ignite long-term kingdom impact.
11. I will allow myself to have a life. I will “pick my head up” from the heat of battle each day and relax, be the kind of friend that others wish they had and enjoy the journey more.
12. I will not allow myself to keep unproductive staff on the team because I’m always thinking “I can fix them.” I will remind myself that keeping people who shouldn’t be on the team not only hurts the church, and our staff, but most importantly, them.
13. I will not allow myself to ignore holding three to four Leadership Evangelism meetings a week with the 100 most influential leaders in our region. I will play the long game by investing now in non-Christian leaders who won’t impact our church for 5-15 years. I will remind myself how easy it is to ignore the Saul’s around me, not realizing they are Paul’s in the making.
So, that’s my list.
Brian Jones is a church planter, author and the founding and senior pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Philadelphia. This article was originally published on SeniorPastorCentral.com.