I’m a hyper-organized person. It’s not news to a lot of people. What I can tell you is only what I’ve heard, but apparently my organization is a complete 180 from the previous pastor who was called to these two churches. Now, I’m not saying my way is better, but it is better for me.
I am far less stressed when I know what needs to get done.
Aren’t you? When you think about all that has to get done in a week, isn’t it even a little helpful to know some of what’s going to be on that list, and not only that, but it makes it easier to complete the task at hand.
As a minister our schedules are whack. And I mean whack. I could be just getting dressed from a shower, have my shirt halfway over my head when my cell rings with a call of “I need you to come to the hospital now, I’m not sure if he’s going to make it.” True story, by the way. It was 8:45 in the morning, and I spent four hours at the hospital that morning, all of my prep time for the week gone out the window with a single “Hello?” from me.
But planning helps. Being organized means that when I need to write my sermon last minute at least I don’t need to also pick my scripture and sermon title last minute. That’s what I’m talking about right now.
Now I have a folder obsession with my computer. My husband rolls his eyes at me all the time over it, but I can tell you almost exactly how to find any file you need on my computer if I’m on the phone with you. How many of you can say the same?
This obsession helps me stay organized. It helps me know that if I need someone else to print my sermon for me because I’m puking my guts out with morning sickness, eheeem husband, then I know he can easily find what it is I need. It means that the stress of sudden emergencies is gone.
It also means that I’m one to two weeks ahead in my sermon writing because it’s not last minute. I used write creatively all the time. I don’t any more because my interests have changed and that’s life. However, there are two types of writers, pansters (those who fly by the seat of their pants) and those who outline. I’ve found in my many discussions not just with writers but with ministers that those who plan out, who outline, who think about the future tend to be able to give better concise sermons. There is a theme that emerges, usually one the church needs to hear.
It means you can take 4 weeks to talk about Stewardship instead of just repeating yourself four times in a row. Planning helps the church flow. It relieves my stress. It relieves the stress of those around me. Last year, the week after Christmas and the first week of the New Year, I had five funerals in 14 days. I’m not joking and I am NOT exaggerating. It was rough. Not only was it rough for that, but I was also in my 9th month of pregnancy. Talk about exhaustion.
But because I was pregnant and I didn’t know when I’d be suddenly dropping everything and driving like a maniac the hour to the hospital while in labor, I was planned out for months. I had worked to get the church organized and ready for my long absence of maternity leave, and that had prepared me for the busyness of those two weeks in ways I had not expected.
It made me think, realize, and know that God was certainly working because had it been all left up to me at that time, I would have left it all for last minute and not been prepared to preach either of those Sundays. It also made me understand that even though God moves in mysterious ways, that we can’t plan for everything in our lives or for when the Holy Spirit dumps this passion on us, we need to be prepared for it.
Just because I’ve had my sermons planned and plotted out through to the end of May since NOVEMBER, doesn’t mean I’m against changing it up if the Holy Spirit moves me. But it does mean, I’m not going to be stressing out, tension riddled, or panicking and sleep-deprived come Sunday morning when I’ve been sitting up waiting for the Spirit to move within me to help me write my sermon.