We all have those moments when someone says something that resonates deeply with us. We often don’t even know why, but something tells us, “pay attention here.”
It was almost 40 years ago now; I was a youth pastor with about two years of ministerial experience and had the privilege of attending a pastors' conference in Chicago at Moody Bible Institute. Over the course of that week, I sat under the teaching of some of the greatest leaders of that time.
And while there were hours of excellent expository preaching, scores of workshops on church growth and the latest outreach programs, one statement, one simple statement stood out for me, “Pastor if you don’t own your calendar, someone else will!”
The preacher went on to say, how grateful he was that he learned this lesson early in his ministry life. He talked of the importance of writing in his calendar not just his church responsibilities but carving out time for his family and his own soul. It was a principle that had served his congregation and his family well over many decades of ministry. No one felt cheated. He was determined that the tyranny of the urgent would not drown out what was most important.
For some reason that I didn’t even understand at that point, I knew that was a sit up and take notice moment. I had this sense I would pay a price if I failed to heed his advice. And so I left that conference with the resolve, as best I knew how, I would own my calendar.
I had no way of knowing that in a few years I would leave that church where I had served as a youth pastor, move to a multi staff, multiple service church where I would be the associate for 20 years and then lead that church for 8 years.
Thankfully because I had taken that pastors counsel to heart, my calendar held not just board meetings, ministry planning days and special events but our vacations were scheduled in BIG BOLD PRINT, my son’s baseball games, that I coached for 12 years were all there, my daughters ski racing events that I helped train were there in ink.
When a parishioner contacted me to talk about an issue, they would invariably say, “when is the next time you are available”? If it wasn’t an urgent matter, I would simply avoid already scheduled commitments. They didn’t know I was working around my church schedule and family commitments. They didn’t need to know.
I often wonder what would have happened in the ensuring years if I had ignored that pastor's advice of almost 40 years ago. I wonder what the price would have been? And who would have paid the most?
I recently heard of a young ambitious pastor writing a note on a chalkboard in his office, that simply read, “Save some for home!” Such great advice. Save some for home. Owning your calendar will help you do just that!