Nothing can be more frustrating and counter-productive than having your purpose and calling kidnapped by the busyness of ministry demands. Tricia Sciortino has some good advice for all of us on this vital topic.

Originally posted by Tricia Sciortino

Today’s post is a guest post by Tricia Sciortino, president of eaHELP, one of our partners on the blog and on my Leadership Podcast

As a pastor or ministry leader, you probably have some pretty specific goals when it comes to your church or organization.

You want to see people in your church and community know and serve God. You want to see your members reach out to those who aren’t. You want to see the lives of individuals and families change for the better as their relationships with God grow deeper.

That’s what you want to see happen. But the truth is, sometimes you feel like you’re doing everything but reaching those goals.

You’re not alone.

Every week in our eaHelp offices, we hear from pastors and church leaders who feel overworked and overwhelmed from all of their responsibilities. Quite often, they’ve taken on more than one person can handle and sustain for the long haul.

When that happens, your purpose – the whole reason you went into ministry in the first place – can quickly get lost in the juggling of email, meetings, budgets and day-to-day fire-fighting.

Here are four ways your ministry purpose may be getting hijacked:

1. You’re reacting instead of acting

There is nothing more mentally draining than when you have a full inbox of email to answer, phone messages to return and figuring out time for unexpected but important meeting requests.

Instead of feeling in charge of your week, you feel like your week has taken charge of you. That’s easy to experience when you’re spending all of your time responding to others with no time to focus on your own important projects and tasks.

But successful leaders realize they are only effective in their callings if they can carry out their callings. When you recognize your most valuable responsibilities, the ones only you can do, and acknowledge what can be handled by others, you free yourself up to focus on what’s really important.

Let’s put it another way: When you decide someone else can work on the $20 tasks, you now have room in your schedule to work on the $20,000 projects, instead.

Ask yourself: What are the things that ONLY I can do? What are the things someone else could do for me? 

Instead of taking charge of their week, too many leaders let their week take charge of them.

2. You feel more like an event planner than a church planter

If your church is growing, then your congregation is gathering, and not just for your normal weekly services on Sundays.

Building campaigns, giving campaigns, holiday events, home groups, and outreach can all require a great amount of coordination and a whole lot of attention to detail.

But figuring out where to order supplies or which caterer you should book is probably not the best use of your time as a leader, especially if you’re also giving the keynote or primary message for an event or campaign.

Focused leaders understand they can’t do everything, and still do everything well.

Ask yourselfHow much time do I spend in my main responsibilities as a pastor or church leader? How much time do I spend with other responsibilities that would not fit in those main categories? 

Focused leaders understand they can’t do everything, and still do everything well.

3. You’re settling for good but you’re longing for great

When time is at a premium, cutting corners can happen so frequently that eventually, it begins to feel normal.

Are those Saturday Night Special sermons happening more often than you wish they did? Does one or two days a week of nothing but Bible study and sermon planning sound like a complete luxury? Do you wish you had more time for deeper research and study?

recent survey found that seven in ten pastors spend eight or more hours in sermon preparation, which showed a promising increase from a similar survey taken more than a decade earlier.

However, pastors of small churches who are often bi-vocational, still spend the least amount of time in sermon prep. When you consider the needs pastors and church leaders are often called on to meet in their congregations – sudden hospitalizations, deaths in a family, other serious issues – preparation doesn’t always happen the way you wish it would.

Prepared leaders know the importance of making time and making plans to achieve excellence.

If you’re always out of time, it’s time to make some significant changes.

Ask yourself: Is there anything in my sermon or message planning that could be better, or that I wish could improve ? Am I fully satisfied in what I’m bringing my congregation each time I speak or write to them?   

If you’re always out of time, it’s time to make some significant changes.

4. Your weaknesses are getting in the way of your strengths

You may be the most incredible speaker but have no idea of the best way to organize your messages so you can reference them later.

You may have the desire to meet and minister to every single person who comes to you for help, but you still can’t find a scheduling system that works.

You may have the most up-to-date smartphone, but you still have no idea what apps you should be using to help make your workflow easier.

Effective leaders know the areas where they’re strong and can recognize the areas where they aren’t as strong. But that’s just the first step; the next step is to look for team members who have those particular skill sets you might not have – and put those skill sets to work!

Ask yourself: What am I really good at when it comes to my church or ministry position? What am I not so good at? 

Knowing where you’re strong is as important as knowing where you’re weak.

One Way to Free Your Purpose And Your Time

If any of the above sounds familiar, I’d like to invite you to consider a solution I believe is one of the most effective and best ways that someone in ministry can free their purpose and their calling. We’ve seen it work for thousands of pastors and other leaders, and I believe with all my heart it can also work for you.

Consider hiring a virtual assistant.

We’ve witnessed so many organizations and leaders over the years who have achieved an incredible sense of freedom to focus on the most important uses of their time and resources when they’ve brought administrative help on board. Virtual assistants work offsite, often from their own homes, and provide all sorts of clerical and administrative services. But they feel just like a member of your in-person team.

They can bring immediate and long-term benefits to pastors, church leadership and others by providing a variety of support for your email correspondence, scheduling, event coordinating, and research needs. Virtual assistants can also help improve your church or organization from the inside out by bringing a fresh set of eyes and highly skilled experience from a wide range of businesses and industries. An assistant can do the heavy lifting for annual retreats, revivals or special services with guest ministers. The hands-on help an assistant provides allows you to be more fully engaged and less distracted.

As we’re reminded in Colossians, we all want to work at whatever we do with all our heart for God. But the odds are, managing an Outlook calendar or calling for quotes to fix the HVAC weren’t part of the plan, and they don’t have to be prominent aspects of your vocation, either.

As a minister or member of a pastoral team, you might find it hard to believe that someone would say there are things you shouldn’t do. But it’s true: there are tasks pulling at your limited bandwidth that you should not have to do. New ways of working, which include fresh approaches to getting work done by using a virtual assistant, can empower you to put more of your energies where you originally envisioned.

At eaHelp, we are committed to ensuring that pastors and leaders like yourself use your energy where it’s most effective by matching you with an incredible virtual assistant who will be the crucial team member you’ve been missing.