The Preacher’s Space

We have just returned from a two-month “home assignment/furlough” and are planning to move house in a month.  Consequently the desk is overloaded, the to-do list is growing like a newborn and things will probably only get worse.  Which leads me to today’s post . . . the preacher needs space.

Desk Space – When peripheral vision is taking in eight piles, lots of post-it notes, growing inbox notifications and unopened mail . . . it’s hard to concentrate.  At this time I suppose I can be excused for taking my Bible, a notepad and pen, and going to a Starbucks, or a park bench, or just another room in order to prepare for Sunday.  But when we move, I need to implement (for the first time, or again) a system that will keep a clear desk.

Schedule Space – When the time flies by and there is more and more to do, this is a problem for the preacher.  Even if you’re not moving or trying to find your desk after a two-month absence, the realities of ministry and family life are always there.  Which means we need to plan ahead and schedule buffer appointments – spare hours, spare afternoons, spare days, potentially even “spare” weeks.  Make appointments with family so they don’t miss out, make appointments with God so He doesn’t get squeezed, and make appointments with an old friend that you haven’t seen lately – Mr Buffer Time.

Mental Space – I don’t mean space between the ears, but space to think, to pray, to meditate.  Pressure cooker sermons can turn out.  In fact, they can be positively dynamite.  They can also be negatively dynamite.  Too many of them can undermine your spiritual integrity, overwhelm your listeners with perceived tension, and ultimately lead to low-level personal meltdowns.  If you are a weekly preacher, ask for a week off before you are desperate for it.  Be humble, admit your need of help.  As it says in Psalm 127, if we are part of what God is building, then He continues to give (and build), even while we, his beloved, sleep.

Other Space – There are other types of space we need too. Space to release tension physically through exercise, to interact socially (who wants to hear a preacher that never has time to be with people?), to enjoy time with the Lord – i.e. not a business appointment in prayer, we’re all good at those.

Suggestion – So much could be added, and please do add suggestions, both in terms of resources, books, but also ideas, etc.  Let me suggest one book.  Getting Things Done by David Allen.

5 thoughts on “The Preacher’s Space

  1. Thanks for your blog! It sounds like you are very busy! I would suggest “Zen to Done” by Leo Babauta also. It simplifies the GTD approach in Allen’s book. I tried pure GTD for a while and gave up. Simplified GTD, or ZTD (Zen To Done) is sustainable.

  2. As a time management fan, I really appreciate your post, Peter.
    As a full-time manager and part-time preacher, I really feel the need of all the kind of spaces you write about.

    I am preaching on Sunday and even if try to keep the week before I preach as much “free” as possible on my calendar, it is always a struggle to find adeguate time and mental energy to study the text and think about it.
    It helps me so much to have a trusted system to manage my commitments. Thanks to it, I was able this morning to do all the work I needed to finish the week and this afternoon I am able to have half a day off to work on the sermon. I am a bit tired, but my mind can focus on the message, since I know that everything important at work has been organized.

    You know that if you need help for implementing your GTD system, you can ask for help. 🙂

  3. I have two desks. One is dedicated to preaching. I leave it set up so I can walk in each day and jump in. The other desk, which I try to keep clear, is for all other things.

    • If you can’t have 2 desk (that would be great) there are 2 elements of the GTD system that can help you:
      – a physical INBOX to put into all the stuff that need to be processed
      – a folder for each current project
      These can help you have a clearer desk.

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