Every year since 1970, Ted Engstrom and Ed Dayton have traveled to various cities to hold two-day "Managing Your Time" seminars for pastors and church leaders. To date they've done over 100 of them.
Although the seminars are sponsored by World Vision, where both Ted (executive director) and Ed (vice president for missions and evangelism) work, they view the seminars primarily as a hobby. "We enjoy doing them," says Ed, "and are convinced of their importance. The seminars are based on the concept that if you can't manage yourself, then you can't manage anything else."
Ted Engstrom graduated from Taylor University, was editorial director and general manager of Zondervan Publishing House, and became president of Youth for Christ International before joining World Vision International in 1963.
Ed Dayton graduated from New York University and worked as an engineer with Lear Siegler before joining World Vision in 1967.
Leadership: What is the most common time management mistake Christian leaders make?
Ed Dayton: Not planning for tomorrow. The leader is so busy doing things he or she doesn't take any time to think about the future. Seldom does he realize that many of his problems can be solved by taking just 5 percent of his time to start working on the future.
Leadership: What do you mean by working on the future?
Dayton: I mean asking questions like "Who can I get to do this job next time? Who can do it better than I can?"
Ted Engstrom: We terribly overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in five. Start by realizing that you can't get out of this mess in one year. But you can lay a foundation that can get you out of this mess in three or five years. By planning now, you can begin to get some control over your time somewhere down the road.
Delegation is the word the time experts use. In the church, delegation means discipling: training others. Leaders don't do things that others do as well or better.
Dayton: Given a choice of doing work ourselves or doing work through others, most of us will opt to do it ourselves. Very few people like to manage others. It's hard work with a very slow payoff. You don't see fast rewards. For example, most of my work is managerial. So I find I really enjoy sitting down and writing the Christian Leadership Letter with Ted. We feel like we've done something tangible right now. The rest of the time we're. in the management business, and years may go by without knowing if we ever did anything right.
Engstrom: We distinguish between two words, purpose and goal. Purpose is the general aim you're going for. To give glory to God is a purpose. To preach good sermons is a purpose. A goal, on the other hand, is measurable. To complete writing an outline of my sermon by two o'clock tomorrow afternoon is a goal.
Clearing up this fuzziness helps pastors set goals and utilize their time. Ministry purposes often can't be measured quantitatively; ministry goals can and should be.
Leadership: Most of the pastors reading this article are in one-pastor churches. Would you put yourself in their shoes for a few moments? Imagine yourself in a small church office facing an overwhelming task. All you have is yourself, some books, an old beat-up desk, a part-time secretary, and a telephone that rings off the wall. What would you bring to this situation from all you've learned about time management?
Engstrom: Let me make a philosophical introduction to our answer. When you talk about management of time, you're really talking about managing yourself. You cannot learn to repair an automobile solely by knowing how to use a wrench, screwdriver, and pair of pliers. You must first understand how things work overall. Once you gain the comprehensive understanding, you realize it's very difficult to tighten a screw with a pair of pliers. That's where time tips can help.