The man’s desk was impressive. It was big, shiny, and obviously very expensive. But what was more impressive to me was how clean it was. No stacks of paper, no Post-it notes, nothing except a computer and a legal pad. I had come to visit a local businessman to talk about some issues he could offer advice on. He gave good advice, but when I left I kept thinking about that clean desk.
I did pass several assistants on the way in, but I could have the same number of assistants and my desk would still be filled with Post-it notes, books half-read, and lots of piles of paper. It’s just the way my mind works. I still manage to get everything done, but I’m as Type-B as they come. No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be one of those Type-A pastors who finish their to-do list every day. It’s not for lack of trying. I have read all about “Getting Things Done” and I have tried most of the best to-do apps out there. It helps a little bit, but in the end, I’m just a slightly more organized version of myself.
Being Type-B is not just a matter of administration, though. As a Type-B person I enjoy thinking about the future, but I have problems executing plans to make that future happen. I’m laid back, which is good, except when it’s time to focus and get things done.
This is not to say that Type-A pastors are the model, either. Some of you Type-A’s need to loosen up, and some of us Type-B pastors need to tighten up some more. God calls all types of men to pastor. As a single pastor in a small church, there are always lots of things to accomplish: packets for kids camp, outreach planning, Sunday School material to order, and more. All of these things have to be done. I can spend a lot of time trying to make myself be someone that I am not, that Type-A who gets it all done, or I can learn to be the best me I can be. How can someone thrive as a Type-B pastor?
Find an organizational method that works for you.
No matter your personality type, you need to be able to stay on top of things. Don’t worry about what other people do. Find something that works for you. At the end of every day I make a list of what needs to be done the next day. I don’t always accomplish the list on the next day, but that list keeps me on task. That might not work for you, but keep working until you find a method that does. It might be Post-it notes, apps on your phone, or old school pen and paper. But keep going until you find the right method.
Learn to delegate.
One of my deacons gave me the sage advice his boss gave him when he started in school administration: “Your job is to do anything you can’t talk someone else into doing.” That might be a bit simplistic, but the principle is true. You might not be good at keeping up with the church calendar, or making sure that Sunday School teachers have all they need, but there are people in your church body God has gifted for such a task. When you let go of the things you are not good at you can focus more on your strengths. Even if your church doesn’t have the budget for a full time secretary, look for those ways you can both empower volunteers in your church and focus on your strengths at the same time.
Don’t try to be somebody else.
When you see people on Twitter who read a book a day, write four sermons a week, get up at 4:30 a.m. to pray for two hours, are always at the hospital to care for their members, and are at every event for their kids, it can be easy to become discouraged. We think we will never be that way. But God made you to be just who you are and no one else. God will be glorified when you are the best version of yourself that you can be.
God knows exactly what kind of pastor your church needs. God called you, not someone else, to be the under shepherd at that church. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn how to be better at what you do. It means God’s plan for the leading of your church is you, not another pastor with different gifts. Quit second guessing God and learn to thrive as the type of person you are.
Luke Holmes is the pastor at FBC Tishomingo, OK. He is married to Sara and has three young daughters. Luke is a student in the Church Revitalization program of MBTS and can be found online at www.lukeaholmes.com and @lukeholmes on Twitter.