Many Senior Pastors I meet confess that they don’t have the energy necessary to consistently function at their highest capacity for extended periods of time.
They fluctuate. Their energy comes and goes in spurts. One day they’re focused and passionate. The next day they’re lethargic and unmotivated.
What is in danger, to borrow a publishing phrase, is the Senior Pastor’s “body of work,” the sum total of what a Senior Pastor can accomplish in their lifetime.
For those of us that work in the trenches, our “body of work” is glorifying God through conversions, making disciples, planting churches, preaching sermons, healing hearts, etc. When our motives are in the right place, nothing honors God more than wanting to revere him by using everything we are to reach everyone we can.
Be honest with yourself. Are you capable of accomplishing more? And if so, what is holding you back?
You probably don’t need more discipline, and you certainly don’t need more inspiration.
What you need is a deeper energy well from which to draw consistently.
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A Deeper Well Of Energy
If you want to preach more powerful messages, you need to be at your best on Monday mornings. First thing Monday morning you need to be in your chair and ready to go for it. That’s all about energy!
To function at the top of your leadership gifting, making the right decisions, initiating the right actions, and inspiring those who follow, you need stamina. You need to be on your A game all five full workdays. That’s all about energy!
Meetings, stress, people problems, criticism, lagging offerings, self-doubt, organizational unresponsiveness – unfortunately, these and a whole host of other surly strangers constantly press down on us. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit, animating a fully alert mind and body, that can stand up to these challenges week in and week out.
Here are three things you could do in the next 90 days that will double your energy and increase your productivity.
Create Whitespace In Your Weekly Calendar By Canceling ALL Monday Meetings
Recently I went through a two-day life-planning session with my friend Doug Parks. Together we unpacked everything about my life and ministry. Then we re-assembled a new approach focused on my life’s mission. I rarely use the phrase “life changing,” but this was life changing. You can find out more about the life-planning approach we used by reading Tom Paterson’s book Living The Life You Were Meant To Live.
One of the key insights I gained was that I had very little “whitespace” on my calendar. Everything was jammed packed, minute by minute, from the time I got up until the time I went to bed. I had little time to breath.
With Doug’s help, I made one small shift that changed everything. I permanently canceled all Monday meetings, and while I was at it I permanently cancelled all meetings before 12 noon. That’s right – no meetings whatsoever on Mondays, and no meetings at all before noon Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Clear Your Schedule All Day Monday And Every Morning
Having Mondays FREE and my mornings CLEAR has been revolutionary.
As a result, wide open Mondays have allowed me the space to focus for one full day on my most important work: preaching. Designating mornings as “alone” work and afternoons as “people” work has afforded me the ability to create the right environment for the type of work I’m doing.
Listen, most Senior Pastors end up clearing their schedules on Thursdays anyway to finish their messages. I’m simply advocating that you do that proactively on Mondays.
If you do nothing else in this article, adamantly refuse to schedule any meetings on Mondays, and throw your phone into “airplane mode” until noon on weekdays. You’ll thank me.
Lose 10% of Your Body Weight
How much do you weigh, and what is your healthy goal weight?
My dietician told me if I lost 10% of my body mass, I’d dramatically improve my cognitive functioning and quality of sleep.
I did, and she was right. Energy-wise I am a new person. As a result, I am no longer exhausted at 7 pm. Now I can concentrate for extended periods of time in front of a monitor. I deepened my energy reserve significantly.
Develop A Strategy To Succeed
Calculate what 10% of your bodyweight is and craft a strategy to lose that in three months. For most Senior Pastors that’s a doable pace. If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is in the “obese” range, the experts say you’ll probably need to take more like 6-9 months. Calculate your BMI HERE.
My strategy was three-fold: 1. See a dietician (most insurance companies will allow you six visits for free) 2. Hire a trainer two days a week and 3. Jump on the elliptical four days a week for 53 minutes (the length of a TV show on my iPad) which as a result burns 500 calories at a time.
As both my trainer and dietician told me, 90% of weight loss is eating. So I changed my eating habits. I began eating smaller meals 6-7 times a day. Lean proteins and nine servings of fruits and vegetables replaced all sugars, processed foods, and diet sodas. Over time I dropped 55 pounds to get to my goal weight, and I have dug a much deeper energy well as a direct result.
Also, with my dietician’s help, I limit red meat consumption to one time a week. I make a concerted effort to eat chicken and foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. The Omega 3’s, which come by eating fish three times a week, two teaspoons of flaxseed oil in protein shakes, and taking Fish oil supplements, have significantly improved my cognitive functioning.
Transforming Your Health Will Transform Your Energy
How do I know this? I use a program called Grammarly to edit my writing. It emails me a weekly report of my total weekly word count output, and I’ve gone from writing maybe 7,000 words a week to 20,000+ words a week. For a point of reference, most non-fiction books are between 45,000-65,000 words total.
I mention this because if you change your lifestyle, you’ll double your energy and dig a very deep energy well quickly.
Increased energy + focused effort = maximum output for God’s glory.
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Cut Your Standing Meetings In Half
In the last two years, I’ve become the sheriff of the “meeting police.” When someone on my staff suggests that we schedule another meeting, I immediately ask a firm, “Why?”
If you ask to schedule a meeting with me, I want to know…
- Can we deal with this matter right now?
- Can you make this decision yourself?
- Can this matter be handled within the meetings that are already scheduled?
I tell Senior Pastors I coach that haphazardly scheduling meetings drains energy and accomplishes very little. 95% of the time those meetings are entirely unnecessary.
Meetings For Introverts And Extroverts
In my experience, this is a particular struggle for extroverted Senior Pastors, who every time they’re faced with an issue want to “call a meeting” and “get everyone together to talk.”
Extroverted Senior Pastors, recognize that your greatest weakness will always be your biggest strength pushed to an extreme. Always scheduling meetings wear people out. YOU need to process things externally (by talking out loud and bouncing ideas off of other team members). That is how you’re wired. That’s your strength. But you must discipline yourself to work within the confines of staff meeting allotments that are healthy for your team.
Introverted Senior Pastors have their unique set of temptations. One tendency is to minimize the value of collaboration and team-building that occurs within meetings. Recognize that while your tendency to process things internally is natural to YOU, it is not natural for the way a strong team operates. Don’t shut key stakeholders out of the one thing that creates the greatest amount of ownership: participating in critical decision-making (rather than being informed of decisions you’ve already made).
Regardless of church size and whether you’re introverted or extroverted, no Senior Pastor should have more than three standing meetings a week. Handle any issues that arise within existing meetings.
Any more than three standing meetings and my guess is you’re trying to accomplish tasks that are beyond your current resource and staffing level. Or you’re not forcing yourself to stay focused.
I want to encourage you to get serious about digging a deeper energy well.
- Create white space in your calendar.
- Lose 10% of your body weight.
- And take an ax to your schedule and eliminate all standing meetings except your three most important.
You do this and just watch what happens to your energy level.
If you are interested in learning more about the types of coaching I offer, you can do that here.