It can be difficult to balance ministry, school, work, family, and personal life when you are serving in a smaller membership church. It’s even more so when you are bivocational. The successful bivocational pastor is one who is able to balance all the demands placed upon him without causing undue stress in his life. Some stress is fine, but a great deal of stress (such that it causes physical problems) is unacceptable.
So what do we do? How do we accomplish the God-sized task of ministry while juggling all our other responsibilities? The answer is simple, yet challenging to implement. The answer is to set your priorities before you are busy, then focus on the main thing. For instance, in my daily life, I am a husband, father, professor, administrator/researcher, church member, writer, and Christ-follower. For me to get my work done in a manner that brings glory to God, I have to set my priorities. My highest priority is as a Christ-follower. This means that everything that I do, think, plan, say, or write must be done through the lens of a Christ-follower.
To accomplish the other roles, I use a process described by Kevin McCarthy in his book, On Purpose Person. He said to take several sheets of paper, and write life categories at the top. These categories could be: Career, Health, Finances, Social, Family, Spiritual, etc. I also segment my sheets according to roles. The next step is to prayerfully brainstorm everything that you want/need to do in each category. List the first item at the top of the page, the second at the bottom of the page, the next under the first, the following above the second, and so on. Do this until you meet in the middle of the page or run out of items. Once you have this list, it is time to set some priorities. You will consider all of the items using a tournament bracket approach. Consider the top two items. Which is more important to you to accomplish. Select it, and move it to the right. Consider the next two and do the same. Continue all the way down the page. If you have an odd number of items, the last item on the list gets a bye, and is moved to the right. Once you’ve completed the first round, move to the next round. Continue until you have one item for each category.
Once you have a goal/task for each category of your life, take a clean sheet of paper and list each item on the list. Now, continue with the tournament. This is the championship level. Go through the tournament bracket approach until you have one main goal/task. All of the others are important, and should be done. However, this one main goal/task is your highest priority. Refer to this list each morning to determine how to prioritize your day.
If you are willing to share the results of your goal setting/prioritization tournament, please do so below.