My varied reading lately is causing me to reflect on some important aspects of pastoring, preaching, and leading. One input has been that of Matt Perman and a post he wrote on the importance of musing. It reminded me of the statement of a successful CEO who said that if he “didn’t spend 20% of his time with his feet on his desk,” he’d fail in his job as a leader. Here is a quote from Perman, quoting Marcus Bukingham:
The best leaders I’ve studied all discipline themselves to take time out of their working lives to think. They all muse. They all reflect. They all seem to realize that this thinking time is incredibly valuable time, for it forces them to process all that has happened, to sift through the clutter, to run ideas up the proverbial flagpole and then yank them down again, and, in the end, to conclude. It is this ability to draw conclusions that allows them to project such clarity.
I have found that this is particularly true of the pastorate. A big part of shepherding well is not merely doing, to complete some task; rather, it is thinking, reflecting, pondering, and meditating. Perman reflects on the Buckingham quote:
Do not be overcome by the temptation to think that the essence of your work is dealing with the urgent. It is not. You have to take time out to reflect. Just get out and think. The two hours (or more) that you take to do this will be worth far more than the two hours of tactical work that you would have gotten done otherwise. So discipline yourself to do this regularly.
And when you do this, get away from your desk. Go somewhere interesting. Go walk along the river, or drive someplace unique. Or just walk in the area. Whatever you do, don’t subscribe to the thinking that you have to be in your desk or even in the building to be doing real “work.”
How helpful, especially for those in ministry! This has been a difficult part in my transition from the corporate world to the ministry world. In those former days, part of work was sitting at the desk, being in the cube, going to the regular meeting. It was a world filled with managing tasks. In my new world, “work” is not (or at least, should not be) defined by place or a “to-do” list, a lesson I’m still trying to learn, and one that – learned – will open up the ability to focus on the right “work,” the important work.
Like musing, contemplating, and thinking on “things above, and not on things on the earth,” on the glory of Christ, on the wonders of the Gospel, on the majesty and beauty of the Father, on the power and work of the Holy Spirit, and the contours and depths of the Holy Scriptures.
More in posts to come.