5 Minute Mentoring: Leading Change More Effectively

A helpful chart for processing changes

goldfish seeking a change

Leading change in a local church is a tough task.  Just about any pastor has one of these stories:

  • a needed change that crashed and burned after it was presented to a church board…
  • a “church boss” who couldn’t bear to see their pet program canned…
  • a brilliant plan plan shot down by failure to process it properly with key leaders…

An indisputable fact: Change COSTS.  Financially.  Spiritually.  Emotionally.  Chronologically.

So how can we help ourselves know which changes to take on, and help people process them?

Here’s a helpful chart shared with me by my “brother in the Gospel” Darrell Underwood (MS, USAF, Ret.), who pastors a church plant in Clovis, NM called Servant’s Heart Chapel.  From his years of work in Process Improvement for the Air Force.

#3 – PICK Chart: Leading Change More Effectively from Darrell Stetler II on Vimeo.

A Word from Our Sponsor:

SermonSubscribe - Providing Quality Preaching Through Video for churches who have lost their pastor

This video series is brought to you by SermonSubscribe, providing quality preaching by video.

Are you burned out as a pastor? Need someone to help lift the preaching load for a time? Do you need a sabbatical, but not sure how you will fill the pulpit?

Are you on a pastoral search committee, but you’re struggling to find a good candidate, and make sure someone is able to preach every weekend? Did your pastor retire, and you’re looking for a new one… but you have to bridge the gap until you can hire a new pastor?

You need to check out SermonSubscribe (www.sermonsubscribe.com). Each week, I preach live in Oklahoma City, edit the High-definition video, and send it to churches across the United States. By the middle of the week, those churches have a quality Biblical sermon to download, handouts to print out & copy… and all of this for far less than it costs to bring in a special speaker or interim pastor.

Have questions?  For pricing, or common questions, please visit www.sermonsubscribe.com.

5 Minute Mentoring: The Time Management Matrix

Steven Covey's tool to sort out your to-do list

When was the last time you felt like you had ENOUGH time?  I’m guessing it was on the 12th of Never.

Time management is one of the toughest things about being a pastor.  Demands on your time are never-ending, and time-wasters abound.

Have you ever:

  • Fielded phone calls that took you off on a wild-goose chase?
  • Lived most of a month in “crisis mode?”
  • Found yourself mired in work that doesnt’ contribute to your goals?
  • Suddenly realized you wasted more time than you should have on other people’s priorities?

Few things are more frustrating than getting to the end of a week, and feeling like “I’ve been busy, but I didn’t get the most important things done.”

Today’s video gives a helpful tool from Steven Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  It’s a time management matrix that helps you sort out the volume of roles & tasks, to help identify which ones help you live with more intentionality and less stress.  (My spell check is telling me “intentionality” is not a word.  But if it’s not, it should be.  I think you know what I mean.)

Check out the video below:

#2 – 5 Minute Mentoring – Time Management Matrix from Darrell Stetler II on Vimeo.

SermonSubscribe - Providing Quality Preaching Through Video for churches who have lost their pastor

This video series is brought to you by SermonSubscribe, providing quality preaching by video.

Are you burned out as a pastor? Need someone to help lift the preaching load for a time? Do you need a sabbatical, but not sure how you will fill the pulpit?

Are you on a pastoral search committee, but you’re struggling to find a good candidate, and make sure someone is able to preach every weekend? Did your pastor retire, and you’re looking for a new one… but you have to bridge the gap until you can hire a new pastor?

You need to check out SermonSubscribe (www.sermonsubscribe.com). Each week, I preach live in Oklahoma City, edit the High-definition video, and send it to churches across the United States. By the middle of the week, those churches have a quality Biblical sermon to download, handouts to print out & copy… and all of this for far less than it costs to bring in a special speaker or interim pastor.

Have questions?  For pricing, or common questions, please visit www.sermonsubscribe.com.

5 Minute Mentoring: How to Share the Gospel

A quick but thorough way to share God's Good News

Hi, welcome to a new feature on the blog!

5 Minute Mentoring is a new feature brought to you by SermonSubscribe.  It’s designed to be a quick hit of practical tools-you-can-use, something that will help you organize, decide, be less stressed, more prepared.

How do you share the Gospel?  Do you have a prepared presentation, or do you just “wing it?”  I am a big believer in being prepared “to give an answer to any man that asks a reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).  I’ve always keep a presentation of the Gospel on tap, so I can succinctly explain it in whatever time frame the Lord gives me to witness.

For some years, I used the “cross bridge” diagram.  But something bugged me about it… I couldn’t place it until I saw someone share a different one.

In the last few months, I’ve made a change in how I share the Gospel.  This method, called the Three Circles, does a better job of explaining the Kingdom and sanctifying nature of the Gospel, instead of simply ignoring it for a simple transactional focus for salvation.

But check it out for yourself and see what you think:

5 Minute Mentoring #1 – Gospel Presentation from Darrell Stetler II on Vimeo.

If you’re interested in purchasing a tract based around this, try this one, which comes in both an app and printed form you can order for your church.

Hope you can tune into the Spirit and see a chance to share the Gospel this week!

Thanks for what you do, pastor!

 

SermonSubscribe - Providing Quality Preaching Through Video for churches who have lost their pastor

This video series is brought to you by SermonSubscribe, providing quality preaching by video. Are you burned out as a pastor? Need someone to help lift the preaching load for a time? Do you need a sabbatical, but not sure how you will fill the pulpit?

Are you on a pastoral search committee, but you’re struggling to find a good candidate, and make sure someone is able to preach every weekend? Did your pastor retire, and you’re looking for a new one… but you have to bridge the gap until you can hire a new pastor?

You need to check out SermonSubscribe (www.sermonsubscribe.com). Each week, Darrell Stetler II preaches live in Oklahoma City, edits the High-definition video, and sends it to churches across the United States. By the middle of the week, those churches have a quality Biblical sermon to download, handouts to print out & copy… and all of this for far less than it costs to bring in a special speaker or interim pastor.

Have questions?  For pricing, or common questions, please visit www.sermonsubscribe.com.

Why I’m Taking a Break From My Blog

A quick announcement before I start today:  If you haven’t taken my survey about your greatest frustrations and joys as a pastor, please click take it… only 12 questions.  I will be drawing two names from the ones who take it for two Amazon $20 gift cards… ends today!

THE REAL POINT OF THIS POST

I’m announcing today that I’m taking 2 weeks off from the blog to do three things:

1. Seek God’s direction for the future of the blog.

I started this blog almost 6 months ago, and it’s been quite a learning curve for me.  I’ve really enjoyed it, and have met some fantastic people, and been encouraged by many of your comments, that something I wrote was helpful.

Writing regularly has been a stretch, but has been a helpful discipline for me in many ways, and I’ve truly enjoyed doing it.  But it’s been much more than just the writing.  Trying to do the blog with excellence has meant learning a lot about the behind-the-scenes WordPress things… Additionally, I have been preparing several projects in the background of the blog that I have been working on, including:

  • Video coaching programs for young pastors
  • A coaching program for small church revitalization
  • An e-book on how to recruit more volunteers
  • An e-book and coaching program on how to follow up on guests

These have taken up a lot of time and mental energy, and I am really quite close to launching them.

Recently God sent three separate people to me (in one day) with a message from the Lord.  As Liz and I prayed over it, it seemed to indicate a change of pace was in order… so we’re seeking what to do about that.

At this point, I intend to continue to write, but we will see what that looks like.  I will continue to keep my commitments to those churches that I’m coaching, and pastors that I’m coaching, but will have to wait until after this period of seeking to see if I will open that up to other churches & pastors.

2. Seek God’s power for a fresh season in our lives.

When the Lord sent these messages to us, they also all indicated that God was about to answer some long-standing prayers, and move powerfully in our city.  We are thankful, and walking in expectation.  Specifically, the message was to be ready, ask largely, rest, and watch God work.

The coordination of these messages (all of them unsolicited, and from people who had no contact with one another) was remarkable.  We are waiting with anticipation to see how the Lord will fulfill his Word.

3. Attend the IH Convention in Dayton, OH.

While we are resting & seeking the Lord, we will be attending the IHC in Dayton.  If you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you’ll see some live tweets from that.

If you’re not familiar with the Inter-Church Holiness Convention, you can check it out here.  The IHC is the largest gathering of people from the Conservative Holiness Movement in the US.  Tuesday thru Thursday, people from the holiness movement gather to hear great preaching, fellowship together, & be encouraged in the Lord.

If you’d like to know more about it, you can find the link to watch live here.  The daily schedule is also posted on the site here.  I’ll be preaching Thursday morning, but I’m not sure if that will be live streamed or not.

Liz and I went through an excellent conference some years ago called “Family ID.”  The conference led us through the process of creating a mission, vision and values for our family.  (Sometime soon, I will write about that…)

One of the 80-something values on the list we created is “Valuing the events that gather holiness people.”  This is why we go to camp meeting, Outreach and Bus Convention, and it’s why we go to the Inter-Church Holiness Convention.

We believe that there is value in gathering with God’s people, being encouraged in the Lord, sharing the journey with a larger circle of Christian family, and being reminded of the heritage of holy men and women in whose line we stand.

So I’m taking time off for that and for family… and I’ll be back, hopefully with a sense of what the Lord is leading toward next.

Thanks for what you do for the Lord as a small-church pastor!  You make an eternal difference!

How to Be More Creative

Developing Your Idea Factory

Do you think it’s possible to become more creative?  Is creativity natural, or developed?  Is it a limited commodity, and you’re just stuck with however much of it you have?  Is it even possible for a small-church pastor to be creative with limited budgets, no staff, and few options?

I think you CAN become more creative.

Here’s my definition of creativity: The skill or ability to view problems and possibilities in new ways, and find solutions that are novel and courageous.

So how do we develop the skill of creativity?  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Read broadly.

Take some time and check out authors that break boxes, think fresh thoughts, and have an “upside down” way of viewing things.  This will mean reading people who disagree with you politically, who synthesize differently than you are used to.

Try some of these:

2. Strategically break your routine.

Seeing the same things the same ways will eventually result in stifled creativity, because it doesn’t give you new experiences and info to process and synthesize.

  • Eat somewhere new.
  • Take a new road to work.
  • Learn a new skill.
  • Read a book about something different or weird
  • Do a new kind of recreation (If you’re an inside guy, go out. Or vice versa!)
  • Talk with someone outside your normal circle – ask them questions

Identify what is unique and different about these experiences.  You may not like them – you might even decide not to do it again.

3. Think childish.

Kids see ways to solve problems creatively because they haven’t been discouraged yet by how many WRONG answers there are. What if you recaptured that mindset, by deciding to ignore the voice that says there’s only one right answer?

  • Shut down the inner voice that says “that’s stupid.”
  • Deliberately suspend your disbelief.
  • Force yourself to come up with 10 different ways to do something, even if 4 of them are completely ludicrous.

The person who rolls their eyes at an over-the-top suggestion may be RIGHT, but they are not creative.  So don’t be that guy.

4. Involve others.

Some people are “Yes, and…” people.  Some are “yes, but…” people.  You know who I’m talking about.  When you want to get creative, it is important who you choose to be around you.  The right people will help you break through a creative block.

“It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.” ~ Sherlock Holmes (Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir A. Conan Doyle)

5. Be ready to capture ideas.

Brainstorming is a huge part of the art of creativity.  But you have to have a way to capture those creative ideas.

Don’t let a flash of insight slip by!  Write them down in Evernote, or put them in your Todoist list.  Sketch it on a napkin.  Take pictures with your smartphone.

6. Plan ahead.

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Creativity is useless if you don’t have time to execute the idea.

Time pressure only creates the base layer of creativity.  Going to the next level of great creative ideas requires margin. So start early.

7. Get enough sleep.

There is abundant research saying that if you don’t sleep, your life will suffer.  You’ll make less effective decisions, your productivity will drop, and your creativity will suffer.  So make yourself go to sleep.  Check out Michael Hyatt’s post on evening routines for help.

8. Ask “What if…?” and “Why not?”

The more you ask these two questions, the more you unleash your creativity.  Even if the answer is “obvious,” go ahead and ask the question.  What you gain from the question is more than the answer – it is perspective.

9. Use metaphor and simile often.

If creativity really is the synthesis of ideas, metaphor is a great laboratory.  To practice this, think these kinds of thoughts:

  • “How is this problem LIKE other problems?”
  • “If this situation was a ___ (car, storm, war, family, factory, etc), what would each piece be called?”

This forces your brain into a synthesis mode of completely different sets of ideas, which is the essence of creativity.

10. Laugh at yourself.

Creativity = Ridiculous.
Ridiculous = funny.
Funny = people laugh at it.
People laughing at you = bad.
THEREFORE, Creativity = bad.

If that’s your logic, you’ll never grow your creative skill.

So if you decide that you’re OK with being a little ridiculous, and can develop the ability to laugh at yourself, you’ll be further down the road toward being truly creative.

In the comments below, share this: Which of these ideas surprised you?  Why?

Nextdoor: The New Social Network You Must Check Out

6 Reasons Your Church Should Be On It

If you’re a pastor of a church, social media can be a frustrating thing. You want to use social media to connect with people who might be looking for a good church, so you create a Facebook page.  You put out the word, and people start “liking” your church page – but they don’t even live in your city, let alone your neighborhood!  But instead, it’s your grandma, your high school best friend, 2 weird people from your email address book, and 3 spam accounts that want you to buy Oakley sunglasses.

If only there was some way to connect naturally with people right in your neighborhood!  Some way to know what what going on in their lives, without stopping by 500 homes every week.

Then, someone created NextDoor.

It’s a social network that is geographically based by your address, not relationally based.  You actually get to know your neighbors, people who live right in your neighborhood.

On Nextdoor, people:

  • Share things they saw in the neighborhood
  • Post events (garage sales, etc.)
  • Warn about theft or vandalism
  • Share news that’s relevant to the community.
  • Post about lost or found pets
  • Ask about good places to Trick or Treat
  • And other things neighbors do…

Here’s why you should check out NextDoor:

1.  Geographic connections.

Facebook is great, but it’s not easy to find people who are geographically connected.  They may be connected by relationships, but it’s not a place where people come to connect with people who live two streets over.  Besides, if you’re like me, you have too many FB friends to even see most things they post!

Nextdoor allows you to talk with people and stay up with what’s going on in your neighborhood, instead of lunch photos from that girl you went to high school with.

nextdoor screenshot

2. Early adopters & relational people.

For right now, those who are on Nextdoor are people who are very open to trying something new.  They aren’t the last guy holding out from joining something new.  As Guy P told me this past week when he visited our church (from Nextdoor), “I knew you were pretty savvy. You’re on Nextdoor, after all!”  They’re also people who are tired of the phenomenon of 1/3 of Americans not knowing their neighbors.  These are people you ought to get to know.

3. Ground floor influence.

I am now a Neighborhood Lead on my Nextdoor network, because I was one of the earliest adopters, and because I invited so many people.  They make it easy to invite geographically, since they (at the time of this writing) pay for you to send postcard invites to 50 people at a time in your neighborhood.  (You never have to touch the postcards, but you can customize the message with your name.)

For me, this was a no-brainer: Get to know my neighbors better, and let someone else pay for it?  Yes, please.

I am planning to use Nextdoor more intentionally in the next few months.  But without any particular plan, we’ve had 2 men start attending church from it in the past few months.

4. Very little noise.

Facebook and Twitter have been noisy for a while.  And they are getting noisier, with all the ads and commercialization.  Nextdoor is like a quieter room – you don’t have to talk with a megaphone to be heard.

In fact, on our Nextdoor, we will sometimes go for a few days with no posts at all.  Which is fine with me.  No one is feeling pressure to fill up the empty space, which makes your message stand out more.

5. No Farmville.

Right now, Nextdoor is simple.  No apps, games, and ads.  Maybe someday they’ll complicate it, but for right now, it’s uncluttered.

6. News about what’s going on in your community.

Oklahoma City is using Nextdoor to put out information about community events that are geographically based.  Law enforcement in OKC is using it to share ideas about safety.

I use it to share graphics about what is coming up at our church, specifically events like Trunk or Treat, or Easter.

If you’d like to check to see if Nextdoor is available in your area, or if you can launch a Nextdoor for your neighborhood, CLICK HERE.  (For a limited time, if you recruit enough neighbors to launch a neighborhood Nextdoor network in an area where it is not available, you get a $25 Amazon gift card.)

In the comments, I’d like to hear:

What social networks are you currently involved in?  What are their negatives?  Is it hard to break through?

Are you on Nextdoor currently?  How are you using it?

A Pastor’s Most Strategic Day of the Week

What is the most strategic day of your week?  Do you have one?  Do you know why it is the most strategic?  What is the most important thing you do on that day?  Church administrative work?  Sermon preparation?  Rest?  Preventing burnout?  Family time?

As a pastor, I doubt that your most strategic day is Sunday.  Sunday might be the most urgent, or the most crucial, but I doubt it is the most strategic.

My most strategic day is Tuesday.  Here’s why:

1. On my most strategic day, I block out time for Quadrant 2 activities.

If you haven’t read my post on Urgent Vs. Important, you should check it out so you’ll know what I mean by Quadrant 2.  The short version is this: Quadrant 1 is doing important things in crisis.  Quadrant 2 is doing important things in a planned way.

2. On my most strategic day, I prep for sermons.

You only have so much creative energy for one day.  Think of it as a reservoir that fills slowly, and empties more quickly.  So on Tuesday, sermon prep is where I place my creative energies.  I create space in my life.  I use this space to think and plan.

The reason Tuesday is strategic is because it keeps one of my core tasks (sermon prep) from becoming a crisis task.  Tuesday prep keeps me from getting to Saturday or Sunday and having to go into full “Sermon Prep Crisis Mode.”  In crisis mode, you may be productive, but you will not be as creative or as thorough.

3. On my most strategic day, I accept few interruptions.

You have to take responsibility for interruptions that you allow.  I know, some cannot be helped.  But many can be prevented. There are ways to avoid being interrupted, even if it means a “Do Not Disturb” sign, and putting your phone on silent or airplane mode.

Don’t get me wrong, you can’t be completely inaccessible.  But if you don’t have any time that you’re not accessible, I can guarantee you that you’re not as strategic and productive as you should be!

If you can’t bring yourself to not answer the phone, then bring yourself to turn off the possibility of people calling you.  The world will not end.

4. On my most strategic day, I leave the office.

This is one way I reject interruptions.  People know where to find me when I’m in the office.  Sometimes, like Jesus, I need to not be found!  (See Mark 1:37)  But there’s another reason that I leave the office:

I sometimes find it hard to focus there.

Confession time: My office is – messy.  (I have improved, and I hope to completely conquer this in the next year or so.)  But like me, you may have to leave the office to get some kinds of high-value work accomplished.

Clutter physically can result in clutter mentally, and doesn’t lend itself to clear, uninterrupted thinking.  Research says when your focus is broken, it takes you a period of time to get back into flow, to producing as efficiently as you were before.  So, when I’m in the office, and my eyes stray to the left and see the pile of paperwork I’ve GOT to work through, it is frustrating and demotivating.

So I leave.  Some very productive people recommend using the same place each time, but currently I don’t.  Currently, I go to:

  • The library, and use one of the study tables in the back.
  • Starbucks (or Cafe Bella)
  • Jack In the Box (iced mocha… mmm)

There is something about these places, since I’ve been so many times, that tends to put me “in the groove” where I can get more done.  It’s a small mental trigger, but it can be an effective one.

What’s your most strategic day?  Why that one?  What kinds of things do you do?  Share your secrets in the comments below.

Pastor, Here’s Why You Can’t Quit

If the stats are right, several pastors reading this are burned out and thinking of quitting… or at least wishing it could happen. The old joke about “writing your resignation letter every Monday” has a grain of truth. You’re burned out. Used up. Frustrated. In conflict. Spiritually drained. Unappreciated.

I don’t know if you’re one of those. I hope not. But odds are, someone reading this said under your breath, “That’s me.”

For the next few minutes, I’m talking to you.

For just the next few minutes, you are a boxer. The bell has rung, ending the round — just in time. Literally, saved by the bell. You stagger back to the corner, battered and bleeding. Collapsing onto the stool, you say, “I’m done. I can’t do it. I’ve got to quit.” A quick swipe of the towel, and I’m down in your face. Through clenched teeth, in a low growl, here’s what I’ve got to say:

“Jesus called you to suffer this.”

Not all pastors are called to blowout success. I don’t know the “Why of heaven” on this. But you know in your gut it’s true — there are too many godly & gifted men through history who didn’t see big numbers. If you see this as the calling of God to face the attack of the enemy, it makes a difference.

“This will not last forever.”

Don’t quit because of a season! You can outlast that critic. Those children will not always be so small. God will answer prayer. Someone will be changed. You will not always feel this alone. Your spouse will not always be sick.

“This is where you prove your grit.”

You must — you MUST. Watch this video. If you’re reading this post on my email list, click through to the blog, right now, and watch it.

Click to watch on Youtube: Facing the Giants VIDEO

“Heaven is worth this.”

I know you’re doubting it will ever be any different, and thinking that you have no more strength. But remember your brothers & sisters in Moslem countries. Remember those have lost eyes, hands, jobs… those who have been tied to stakes and flogged.

They found that Christ was worth the pain.  They found that He satisfies here on Earth, and they proved his supreme worth by what they suffered.  And when we arrive in heaven, whatever pain you’re experiencing will only produce greater glory when you’re in His All-Satisfying Presence.

“This is the price of Christian leadership.”

1 Corinthians 4:9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.
10 We are fools for Christ… We are weak… we are dishonored!
11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.
12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;
13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. (NIV)

This is not new!  You think you’re better than Paul?  Or Stephen?  Or Jesus?

Get your head up. No, look up here. Look me in the eye.

Grit your teeth and say it: I will not quit.

No, don’t you mumble and drop your eyes. LOOK AT ME.

Say it.

SAY IT.

I WILL NOT QUIT.

I. WILL. NOT. QUIT.

Now, call a preacher friend or mentor and tell them you’re not going to quit. Email me and tell me you need prayer, but you’re not going to quit. I will stop and pray for you as soon as I get the email. We are in this thing together. We need you. No more men running for the safety of the rear lines while the shells of the enemy scream overhead!

Now, type I WILL NOT QUIT in the Comments below.

Then, go read this post about action steps you can take if you’re burned out and discouraged as a pastor!

How Living In the Urgent Can Kill Your Creativity

And how to reclaim your life from the stress...

If you haven’t read Stephen Covey’s excellent book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” you’re missing out.  Out of the many helpful things in the book, here’s one I have found most useful:  Covey’s distinction between URGENT things and IMPORTANT things.

  • Urgent things shout at you – flashing lights, ringing phones.
  • Important things will not – maintenance, relationships, planning.
  • Urgent and Important things must be done or things will fall apart immediately.
  • Important, not Urgent things must be done or things will fall apart eventually.
  • Urgent and Important things are like filling up with gas when you’re on empty.
  • Important things are like changing the oil after 3,000 miles.

He draws a matrix like this:

Quadrant 2 graphic

As you can see, Quadrant 1 is Urgent & Important.  Quadrant 2 is Important, but not Urgent.

Now, think about your life in terms of this diagram.

I think of Sunday as a Quadrant 1 day.   If you don’t lead worship, don’t preach… if you fail to do whatever your core activities are, there will be an immediate negative effect.  Some activities eventually change quadrants.  For instance, sermon prep is a Quadrant 2 activity, but Saturday night… it’s moved up.

Here’s why it’s better to do activities while they’re still in Quadrant 2:

1. Living in Quadrant 1 is exhausting.

Living your whole life in Quadrant 1 means you’ll be like Mario, leaping from crisis to crisis, barely escaping destruction at each turn, always inches from disaster.

It means not being able to sleep because of the stress of upcoming deadlines.

That’s exhausting.  Better to live in Quadrant 2, where you do important things before they move into Quadrant 1.

2. Relaxed thinking is better than crisis thinking.

You do better quality thinking when you’re relaxed.  Research is clear: You make better quality decisions when your stress is lower.

In his ground-breaking book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell tells of a study where college students were brought to a snack table, and offered a choice between healthy snacks (fruit, etc) and unhealthy snacks (cookies, cupcakes).  Half of the students were given a phone number to memorize and repeat back after the snack.  Those students were much more likely to choose the unhealthy snack.  Why?  They defaulted, under even that mild stress, to choosing what was immediately rewarding, instead of what was smarter.

3. Creativity flows better when you are not in urgent mode.

Ever think that your creativity goes up right before the deadline?  It doesn’t.  Your desperation does.  You may produce, but it’s not your creativity that gets your sermon finished!  It’s shame, and the potential embarrassment of having nothing to say.

It’s not more creative, it’s just… finished.

Instead, take time and focus early in the week to get in a creative flow.  (I’ll be writing more on this soon.)  You may not think of yourself as a particularly creative person, but I bet that you’re more creative when you aren’t “under the gun.”

4. Creativity is useless when you have no time left to execute.

In Quadrant 2, when you think of a really creative way to present a sermon, you can do it.  You can find that prop, create that Powerpoint, locate that great historical story, find that song that complements, think of that person whose testimony should be shared.

But in Quadrant 1, even if you think of it, you often don’t have enough time to do anything about it. I’ve been there too many times, finishing up a sermon on Sunday morning, when I realized – “You know what would be GREAT?!… ah, never mind, I don’t have time to do that this morning!”

Don’t do it.  Commit to living in the Important, not Urgent.

One final thought:

“What if I’m already overwhelmed?  How do I get into Quadrant 2 when Quadrant 1 is already so full?”

I’m glad you asked.  You can’t just stop doing Quadrant 1 activities.  Everything would fall apart, because they really ARE important!  There are only 2 places that you can find time to do Quadrant 2 activities at first: Quadrants 3 & 4.

Here’s what that might look like:

  • Turn off the phone.
  • Block Netflix.
  • Shut off talk radio.
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Use Stayfocusd to keep off Facebook.
  • Get off Youtube.
  • Turn off your wireless access altogether for 3 hours.

And do something Quadrant 2.  Like this:

  • Prepare for NEXT week’s message.
  • Prep for a series that’s a month away on your sermon calendar.
  • Invest in a key relationship.
  • Learn something new.
  • Do that item you’ve been putting off.
  • Check your calendar for tomorrow.
  • Schedule lunch with someone.
  • Pray.

I think you’ll find that if you’ll do this for a week, Quadrant 1 will be slightly smaller, and Quadrant 2 will be slightly larger.

Now, imagine 6 months from now, if you did that every day!