I took most of the week off between Christmas and New Years, as did most of my colleagues. During that time, my family vacationed in San Antonio. We explored, rested, and had fun. We shut our laptops and distanced ourselves from our jobs.

When I returned to work after the New Year, I immediately asked myself, “Why did I just take a vacation? I have SO MUCH to do!”

Our winter retreat loomed before me, a mere 11 days away. I had a theme and a general sense of the Bible story that would serve as it’s basis, but not much more than that.

That morning, I created a to-do list – listing out every single thing I had to complete before the winter retreat began. The completed to-do list was multiple pages long. I had no idea how I would finish it in time.

So I took another pass through my list to prioritize the items on it.

As a creative person, I wanted to begin with the things requiring the most creative energy: Crafting the retreat content and creating experiential prayer stations.

The things I wanted to do last were the administrative tasks: Confirming we had all the necessary forms from everyone, writing checks, and assigning roommates.

As I looked at my list I realized something: Others were depending on me to finish things in order to do their jobs. Adult leaders needed small group lessons. Parents needed to know what forms were missing. The accountant needed to know how much to write the check for. The retreat center needed paperwork.

What mattered most in prioritizing the items on my to-do list wasn’t what gave me life or sucked energy out of me. It was whether or not someone else needed it.

So I took another pass through my list and prioritized it according to others’ needs. Then I got to work.

I spent two days working non-stop to craft the small group content for the retreat so that when we held our leader’s meeting, I could give it ALL to my adult leaders. When I did so – 10 days BEFORE our retreat – leaders were floored. As they began preparing, I consistently heard two things from them:

  • “Thanks for giving us so much time with this material. It’s been so helpful to go through it slowly.”

  • “Thanks for getting this info to us before the weekend. It makes such a difference to be able to prep it over a weekend!”

I then shifted gears and tackled the administrative tasks others were depending on. I chased down forms, connected with our retreat center and bus driver, and did everything possible to ensure that the details would be taken care of so that other leaders could simply be with the kids.

Once those things were handled, I looped back and did the things I was most excited about – like writing prayer stations. By the time the retreat began, everything on my to-do list was crossed off… In an order that honored those that I was serving with.

When we prioritize the things others need to do their jobs, we set them up for success. Then our leaders – and our ministries – win.