by Justin Brock, Ministry Director
As I am approaching a decade working with Clayton King Ministries, I’ve recognized something about myself and about the wonderful staff and ministry leaders that I serve. I’ve learned that almost ALL of us feel that we have too much on our plates.
So, today I want to remind you of 3 simple questions you should ask yourself when you start your day. (I should warn you, this post will be incredibly practical).
If you’re like me, you probably arrived at your workplace today and immediately looked at the mountain of projects that you need to knock out and started prioritizing how to even scratch the surface. If you are currently or have ever been overwhelmed by the load of “to-do’s,” consider asking these three questions in this particular order!
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE?
This is usually the question I ask myself after my head is pounding from tension, I find myself irritable, and I want to chew out everyone that steps foot in my door!
We say yes to way too many things and allow the weight of WHAT we’re doing bog us down to the point that we forget about WHY we’re doing it in the first place.
The tasks in and of themselves are only going to sustain you so far. We’ve got to look at the WHY!
What if we centered our hearts on the purpose behind why we are doing what we are doing before we even tried to map out the strategic plan for how the projects are going to get accomplished. I need to look at what I’m doing with the PURPOSE of Preaching the Gospel and Making Disciples. I want every project I do to be saturated with the purpose of seeing the Gospel clearly and effectively communicated, disciples of Jesus growing in their relationships with God and each other, and people experiencing the grace and love of Jesus Christ in everything they do. I want even the most mundane of projects to be centered on Jesus.
If you’re like me, you are probably reading that last little bit and thinking, “there is no way that the work I have on my plate today has ANYTHING to do with eternity.” And to my fellow critics, I beg to differ! Consider reading the following passage each morning for the next few weeks as you attempt to focus on PURPOSE before PROJECTS.
Colossians 3: 12-17 says
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
So, when you ask the question, “What is the purpose?,” use verse 17 as your mantra. Even if your job for today is to clean toilets, you can do it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
When your purpose behind what you are doing is keeping Jesus at the center, your attitude, conversations and demeanor will undoubtedly be centered on Jesus as well!
Now that we’ve determined PURPOSE, the next question we must ask is this:
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE?
Every PROJECT on my to-do list is now centered with a PURPOSE, but I also know that there are PEOPLE behind every PROJECT as well.
Every single task that I am working on is ultimately about serving PEOPLE.
After you have centered your PURPOSE on Jesus, begin to identify the PEOPLE behind your PROJECTS. Take time to pray for these people (such an easy thing to neglect!). Pray for the people that your projects may impact. Don’t miss this step to pray in your daily to-do’s! Prayer is vital to our work, and yet so many people seem to neglect it as soon as they get busy (guilty as charged!). Can you imagine the perspective it will bring to your mundane daily duties to consider how that budget meeting, event planning session, or janitorial duties will not only bring glory to Christ, but will impact others for the Kingdom of God?
Identify specific names in this process. Consider writing down names of actual people next to some of the projects that you are working on. So, when you are drafting up the outline for the next event for your organization or ministry, jot down a few names of people on a post-it note (or write it on your hand!), and read these names and pray for them while you knock out those pesky administrative details.
Finally, remember that the PROJECTS will always keep piling up. Sometimes we have to step away from the comfort and safety of our strategic planning meetings and desk duty to engage with the PEOPLE behind the PROJECTS! So, what steps can you take to maintain relationships with people as the priority in your area of work? How can you become more effective with your tasks in order to better create space for relationships?
OK, we’ve now determined our PURPOSE and our PEOPLE! Time to (finally!) ask the final question!
WHAT IS THE PROJECT?
It is vitally important to look at the projects at hand but only after you’ve answered the questions of purpose and people!
When we have our hearts centered on our purpose and our mind’s attention on the people behind the projects, we can begin to accomplish the task at hand with renewed vision, clarity, and joy.
When you look at what’s on your plate in a given day, week, or season, one of the first things to consider is the steps you can take to manage your projects with excellence. The first step is creating a system or process for tackling those tasks. That looks different for all of us. I typically use a quadrant to help me identify my task in four unique categories. Each quadrant ranges from most urgent and important to least urgent and important. This way, I’m not looking at a list of things that will never get done, but rather find clarity on what needs to be done first, what can happen with ease, and what may take a lot of time. Beyond that, I need to identify certain types of jobs that brings me life and energy and space these out throughout the day so I don’t get bogged down with the boring stuff!
Another specific way to try and approach tasks with excellence is to identify which projects need the assistance of others. If your job allows it, maybe there are key volunteers, colleagues, or interns that can come alongside you to make certain projects more effective. This would allow you to lighten your personal load in order to make space to bring creativity and life to other projects on your plate. It’s also important to identify when you’re just not the best person to do a job. When there is funding and availability, try to outsource projects that may be outside of your wheelhouse or that may suck your time and energy.
Finally, it’s important to make sure to keep it fresh when you are tackling projects. On a practical level, try to change your environment from time to time. Sitting behind my desk doesn’t always bring the highest level of productivity for me. I’m the first to fall prey to the blank stares at a computer screen, so I tend to move around the office a bit - making phone calls while I take a walk or drive, sitting in our intern space to cultivate some energy and excitement on the mundane of returning emails, or hitting up a coffee shop for those writing projects (obviously take these liberties within the parameters of your work environment and allowances of your authorities!). Another way to stay fresh is to constantly be open to change. If there are better ways to do something or if one of your colleagues presents a new way to do your job, I challenge you to be receptive to those changes!
Purpose, People, then Projects.
So often, I walk in, sit down at my desk, jump straight into the projects for the day. Then, I get overwhelmed or frustrated and I have to remind myself of the people that the Lord has given me the opportunity to serve and the purpose behind why I’m doing this in the first place. Why not reverse that process and start my day reflecting on my PURPOSE, praying for and considering the PEOPLE, then jumping into my PROJECTS with the first two things at the forefront of my mind. Such a simple step, but if you’re like me, such an easy thing to overlook.
Praying for you today that whatever you do, whether in word or deed, that you would do it all in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, constantly thanking Him!
About the Author: Justin Brock is the Executive Director of Clayton King Ministries. He and his wife Jess live in Anderson, SC and are the proud parents of Emery and Greyson. He is an alumnus of Clemson University and was a part of the very first Crossroads Discipleship Home. You can find out more about Justin by following him on Instagram (@justinbrockcu) and Facebook.