Perhaps a short-term project requiring a lot of hours in a brief span of time may be more doable for your schedule than something requiring a few hours a week on an ongoing, long-term basis. Since we tend to underestimate how long something will take, be sure to build some flexibility into your calculation. No matter how much you want to do something, if you don’t have time for it, it will likely have a negative impact on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Several years ago, I fulfilled a long-term dream of attending seminary, and started working toward a master’s degree in theology. With support from my church and family, I chose to take one class each semester to minimize disruptions to my schedule. Though I loved learning, I felt the constant strain of trying to juggle the classwork while maintaining my other responsibilities, especially during busy work seasons. Despite my best intentions, I found myself distracted during family outings, cranky while trying to squeeze in all the reading, tired from staying up late to finish papers, and stressed out from juggling it all. After six semesters, I made the difficult decision to say, “not now,” and put my education on hold. Timing, pace, and capacity are critical issues to pay attention to if you want to uphold your priorities and be fully present in all you’re currently doing. “Not now” is a perfectly valid and wise response to opportunities that would be better fulfilled in the future.
4. Does the thought of working on this excite me?
Never underestimate the power of fun! If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, the burden feels light and the work is fulfilling, especially if you enjoy the people you are working with. This question is more of an instinctual gut check. When you think about a new project, do your heart and mind race with excitement and ideas, or do you feel a heavy weight and a sense of obligation? If the project is not mandatory to your role, you have the luxury of choosing those items that are life-giving and soul-filling. You should get excited about the work you’d be accomplishing and the team you’d be working with.
I am actively involved in a ministry peer group, the Small Group Network, which connects and resources small-group ministry leaders all over the world. I joined at its inception because I respected and enjoyed hanging out with the founding leaders. A couple of years ago, I was asked to host a monthly podcast for the Small Group Network and interview experts in my ministry field. Though I had no experience in podcasting and was quite nervous about it, my heart jumped at the concept. I couldn’t sleep that night because my mind was racing with ideas and strategies. I love asking people questions, reading ministry material, and learning from others. It has been a joy to research topics, build new relationships with experts in the field, and encourage others in the ministry trenches. Plus, it has equipped me to become a stronger leader in my own ministry. Though this activity doesn’t take much time, it feeds my mind and soul in ways that energize and inspire me.