Ministry never stops! There always seems like there’s more to do…more people, more projects, and more tasks. Add all of those elements into a busy week that has regular meeting and program times, and you’ve got for a very full schedule that’s difficult to manage. How do you manage everything? Most of my ministry friends attempt to tackle their work week by relying on the traditional to-do list system.

While creating and maintaining a “to-do” list is better than forgetting all that needs to be done, I’m not a big fan of working from these lists. While a list can be helpful, here are 3 reasons I don’t find them real beneficial:

• Every task on the list feels like it gets equal weighting,
• I usually attempt the easier tasks first (and not the most important ones),
• Since the list continues to grow, by the end of the week, it feels like I didn’t accomplish much.

For about 20 years now I’ve taken five strategic steps to help me become more time effective and productive. Here they are:

1. I determine my roles
2. I list my weekly goals under my roles
3. I project a time for each goal
4. I block out my meetings and/or programs
5. I assign a time slot for each of my goals

Over the next few days I’ll go into more detail about each one.

I determine my roles
This was a very beneficial step when I first started working like this. I took some time to really think about what I do and came up with five different roles. Once I identified these five roles, they rarely ever changed. These are the ones that seemed to make the most sense in my job at the church.


Pastor: Even though my title was youth pastor (then, youth & family pastor, then youth & family & teaching pastor) I identified this role as time during the week when I would spend my time with teenagers, parents, make hospital visits, etc….

Teacher: This was the time I would spend in preparation for my teaching opportunities throughout the week. I would usually teach one or two times a week and needed to block out time to study, think, illustrate, and construct messages.

Leader: This included relational time with leader types—teenagers, volunteers, and staff. It also included time for strategic planning and steps to move the ministry forward.

Administrator: This was my least favorite role but one that could dominate all my time if I allowed it to. This included email correspondence, budget, details, follow-up, meeting program essentials, working thru “piles” of stuff that accumulate and need to be dealt with, delegated and discarded.

Developer: This was my most favorite role! It was also the role where I would usually steal time from if I just had too many things to do from the other four roles. I love to create, write, and make things. Simply Youth Ministry grew out of this role (all my books, devotionals, curriculum, etc… came from my developer role).

These were just my work roles. In addition to my work roles, I obviously had personal roles too (Christ-follower, husband, dad, friend, self).

I’ll continue tomorrow. In the meantime, what are the roles you see yourself “playing” within your ministry?