Book Recommendation: Crazy Busy

When you ask someone how they are doing and answer you often get is, "I'm busy!"  Everyone seems to be busy.  You don't often here people complaining, "I have so much time on my hands, I don't know what to do with myself!" Busyness is a chronic problem many of us face, and Kevin DeYoung's new book Crazy Busy helps with the problem. After finishing this book I was left with a strange mush of conviction and encouragement. What DeYoung does best is diagnose the heart behind our busy lives. He does a fantastic job revealing some of the sinful motivations in our heart for busyness.  DeYoung identifies pride as one of the motivations for our busy lifestyle.  DeYoung writes,

Here’s the bottom line: of all the possible problems contributing to our busyness, it’s a pretty good bet that one of the most pervasive is pride.

However, although this book is helpful in revealing the sin in our own hearts, the must encouraging chapter was Chapter 9: Embracing the Burden of Busyness.  DeYoung tells us that, "the reason we are busy is because we are supposed to be busy".  DeYoung turns to Paul's ministry in 2 Corinthians 11:28 and teaches that busyness is often a part of our suffering for Christ. Part of serving Christ means being spent for him. This was an incredible encouragement to me as I often look at my schedule.  There are major areas of improvement that need to be made, but this acknowledgment that busyness is not always bad was just what I needed to hear.  Part of serving Christ means certain seasons of my ministry are busier than others.

Overall, if busyness is a problem that you deal with, it is worth to give this book a read.  Although DeYoung does a good job of diagnosing our hearts, he does little to help prescribe practical steps to handle our busyness. The application is ultimately left for us to figure out for ourselves.  I commend this little book to you as a helpful diagnoses to your own heart.

Don't Waste Your Christmas Break

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Christmas break is almost here! For many college students they are already on the long awaited and hard fought Christmas break. For high school students, Christmas break is just another week away. For the rest of us, we are looking forward to some time off of from the monotony of work. Christmas break is always a wonderful time, but to be honest, it is so easy to squander this precious time. Rather than maximizing our time off, we spend it in front of the television or sleeping in till 1 PM.  We want to make the most of every moment, as a result, here are a few ideas for you so you can maximize your time over Christmas break. 

1. Spend time with Family

The holiday's are a great way of hanging out with the people you care about. Over the Christmas break, maximize this time with your family by putting down the cell phone or shutting off the TV and just talk with one another. Use this extra time together to build your relationships with one another. Don't let your attention be stolen by lesser things. Spend time with your family and be fully engaged ready for a lot of meaningful fun.

2. Read a Good Book

I always love Christmas Break, because that means personal reading time. With no syllabus hanging over your head and no assigned reading, that means that you are able to read books that you want to read, not one a professor is making you read.  A great way to maximize your Christmas break is by grabbing a good book, especially one that is good for your soul and encourages you in your walk with Christ. For some good suggestions be sure to check out my recommended reading.

3. Volunteer and Give Back

With the extra time on your hands, a great way to invest that time is by giving it away to others. With less demands and pressures, take a day and volunteer at a local mission. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or at your local church. Give your time away to others and show the love of Christ to them as you serve them.

4. Rest

If you are like me, you need to be reminded that you don't always have to do something. Sometimes the best way to maximize your Christmas break is by doing a whole lot of nothing. We all move a little slower during holidays, and that's a good thing. We keep ourselves so busy rushing from one responsibility to the next, and we need a few days to rest. Sabbath is a good thing. Rest is a God thing. However as you rest, be sure you also take time to rest in our great God. Maybe spend an extra thirty minutes each morning in prayer or reading some extra scripture. Recharge your physical batteries, but also recharge your spiritual batteries by spending some extra time with your glorious king.

5. Have Fun

Do something you love to do but don't normally have an opportunity. Go out for a long walk. Pick up that guitar that is collecting dust in the corner. Try out that new pie recipe you got from a friend. Go throw the football around with your family. Go see a movie. Take the time off and enjoy it! It is a vacation after all, so have a blast and enjoy yourself!

These are just four ways you can maximize your Christmas break. Don't waste this precious time. Spend time with your family, read a good book, give back, rest, and have fun. Don't Waste Your Christmas Break!

What are some things you do to maximize your Christmas Break?

Tools I Use for Organization

Yesterday I shared with you the urge for Pastors to maximize their time for the glory of King Jesus. Today I'd like to share with you some technological tools I use to help accomplish the responsibilities and demands for my own ministry. Again, I pray that it will be helpful for you in your stewardship of time.  In case you didn't know this about me, I am an Apple guy.  I use a macbook, iPad, and iPhone.  I'm totally committed to over-priced, but great quality, user friendly gadgets.  As a result, some of the apps I'm going to share are Apple only.

Evernote

Evernote is a life saver.  Seriously if you have never heard of it you need to go to their website and check it out.  The great thing is that for a basic account it is totally free.  Evernote is pretty much a cloud based database that can search and sort pretty much anything you want to put into it.  It syncs across all your devices and allows you to have quick and easy access to any information or documents you need.  It is pretty much the 21st century version of a portable filing cabinet that you can carry around with you on your phone.

Evernote helps me bridge the gap between Paper and Digital.  My go to resource for getting thoughts down is pen and paper.  That's why I carry my Moleskine Notebook with me everywhere.  However with Evernote you can scan or snap a picture via phone of your documents and Evernote can search for them later.  It's pretty incredible.

As a Pastor, Evernote is an incredible tool.  A lot of my sermon prep and notes start in Evernote.  I am able to store my finished sermons on Evernote for easy access later.  As a Pastor, you are constantly reading.  I do my best to stay in touch with the Christian blogosphere so I can keep informed with trends and discussions.  The great thing about Evernote is I can save all those resources into Evernote and tag them for easy searching.  For example, if I'm writing a sermon on the Holy Spirit, I can search the phrase "Holy Spirit" and it brings up everything I've ever put into evernote on the Holy Spirit in seconds.  It is a seriously powerful tool and its only limitation is your own imagination.  It is a must have tool for 21st century pastors who want to stay organize.

Calendar and iCloud

With the Apple Calendar application powered by iCloud I can keep my calendars in sync easily no matter what device I have on me.  As a pastor this helps me schedule appointments and look at my calendar right on the spot.  It allows me to schedule meetings with other people without having to carry around a Personal Planner.  A great feature for my marriage is the sharing feature.  I am able to share events scheduled with my wife, and she can always see what is going on with my calendar from her iPhone.  Also when either I add something to the Calendar or she adds something to the calendar, we get an email from the other person notifying them of the change.  This helps prevent miscommunication and keeps us on the same page together.

Reeder

I just mentioned that I like to stay informed through blogs what is happening in the Christian world.  A big way I do that is through a Google Reader account.  My Google Reader Client of choice is Reeder which has apps for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.  It is a slick interface that allows me to stay informed with news and blogs on the go.  My favorite feature though is the one click option for saving a blog post into Evernote.  This allows me to read and file quickly and easily.

Things

Things is an app that I just recently re-added to my organizational system.  I am a big fan of "to do" lists.  I used to just write them in my moleskine.  I have always like Things, but it took them along time to put out a Cloud Sync solution that fits in with my mobile life.  However, with a recent launch of the new and improved Things 2, it has been a huge asset.  Things is more than just a to do list.  It helps you organizes Projects and Responsibilities and get things done.  Whenever I think of something I need to do, or if someone asks me to do something, I pull out my iPhone and enter it into Things.  This way it keeps me from forgetting about it. Pastors have to deal with church members all the time who ask them to do things.  A lot of times church members ask you these things at the worst possible times, like right before a worship service or while seeing you at a restaurant.  As a result, many Pastors understandably forget.  Things helps me remember in addition to maximizing my productivity.  Besides, for geeks like me there is nothing more thrilling than seeing a completed "to-do" list.

YNAB

YNAB stands for You Need a Budget.  It is a system based off of Dave Ramsey's envelop method for personal finance.  This tool has been incredible in helping me maintain my families finances.  This tool has been huge in helping me to be a good stewards with the money God has given me, and is perfect for the lives of busy Pastors.  If you are looking for a good way to get a Biblical handle on your finances, give this a chance.  With their companion mobile app you can enter in transactions and budget them on the go.  This helps you keep track of every dollar and eases the stress of personal finances.

I hope these are some tools you can look into to help maximize your time and organize your priorities.  There are a few other tools I use not listed, but these are the primary ones I use.  Some of these tools do cost some money, but good tools aren't cheap.  My philosophy is that if it means spending a couple bucks to help me maximize my time for Jesus, it is worth it.  If I am going to be a good pastor, than it means sometimes spending money of good tools to get the job done.

What sort of organization system do you use?  What apps or tools do you use to help meet the demands of life?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Becoming a Productive Pastor

Pastors can be very busy people.  The demands and expectations of pastoral ministry can be overwhelming.  The average church member will never really understand the often overwhelming responsibilities that come with pastoral ministry.  However, in my experience many pastors are absolutely terrible in managing their time.  A majority of pastors tend to be extroverts and conversation lovers.  All though those can be great strengths for a pastor, many pastors struggle with discipline, administration, and organization.  This gets tough when pastors have to juggle so many hats and responsibilities.  For example,  I have a variety of priorities I have to lead and maintain.  Here are a few:

  1. Christ Follower
  2. Husband
  3. Future Dad
  4. Full Time Seminary Student
  5. Youth Ministry
  6. Children's Ministry
  7. College/Young Adult Ministry
  8. Other Church Responsibilities
  9. Blogger/Writer

As you can see, juggling all nine of these priorities and responsibilities has been incredibly tough to manage.  Although I drop the ball often, I have developed an organizational system to help me keep the balls in the air most of the time. Most people complain about not having enough time, in reality most people are just terrible time managers.  I am always trying to improve as a faithful steward of the time on this earth Jesus has given me.  As I've tried to manage my time and balance my priorities effectively, I've developed a personal system to help.  I though it would be a neat idea to share my system with you in hopes that it might be beneficial to you as well.  By no means am I a productivity/time management guru, but I hope to help.  By no means am I asking you to emulate my setup, but I hope it will be helpful in creating your own system of organization.  I've learned that the best system is not the one you copy from somebody else, but the one that you create that works for you.  Everybody is different.

I am a young pastor who grew up in the age of technology.  As a result, I use technology as my primary way to stay organized and productive.  In the next blog post I will showcase several different apps I utilize to accomplish my tasks.  If your a pastor, they might be worth looking into.  If you are just looking to help manage your life better, you might want to look into them as well.

Overall, my prayer is that each and every one of us would learn to maximize the time we have for God's glory, especially those of us who are pastors.

 

Making the Most of Every Minute

Time goes on and on. As I get older it is amazing how quickly minutes fade into hours, hours into days, and days into weeks. As the song goes, "Time keeps on slipping into the future". As Christians, how should we respond to the issue of time management? Should we just let the days go by and simply wait on Jesus to come back or take us home, or should we anxiously worry ourselves to death by stressing over our planners?

We Should Seek to be Good Stewards

God has entrusted us with the gift of life. Every breath is a gift that comes from our heavenly father. He has purchased our ransomed and saved us from sin. He has bought us with the price of his son.  So our lives, including our time are owned by God. We then ought to be good stewards of the time we are given. We ought to desire to make every minute of every day count for the Gospel. Our lives are not our own, and our schedules ought to reflect that we live for Christ. For many, this means that the hours spent daily in front of a television or on the computer isn't simply a laziness issue, but a stewardship issue. Those who do not manage their time wisely and get distracted with unnecessary activities do not only have a discipline issue, but a stewardship issue. God has purchased our lives, and so he owns our time. We then must be good stewards with the time God has given us.

Our Schedule Should Reflect our Priorities

As a Christian, my first responsibility is to my Lord Jesus. My relationship with him is of utmost importance. As a husband, my 2nd priority is my wife and future family. Ministry/vocation/school all comes after these top two priorities. My time management should reflect these priorities in my scheduling. We must plan and set aside time to spend with the Lord Jesus Christ and to be with our families. Speaking personally, it is so easy for me to let ministry or school become priority number one bumping Jesus and my wife Kaitlyn down the priority ladder. We must be intentional in prioritizing our schedules. If not, the loudest and most pressing concern will overtake our priorities. If you are not managing your schedule, someone else will set it for you.

Make Every Second Count

We should desire to make every second count for Jesus Christ. In what ways does your schedule need an adjustment? Are you planning time to be with the Lord? Are you setting enough time aside to spend with your family? What do you need to say no to? What time is wasted that could be used more effectively for the advancement of the Gospel? How can you become a better steward of the time God has given you?