Summer is one of the best times for making memories and becoming more productive. The longer evening hours make for great family and ministry time, and the changes in our routines that happen around this time of year, are the perfect opportunity to take a fresh look at our goals and plan our priorities.
Perhaps it’s the old school days mentality, but for many people, summer tends toward unproductivity—as in a break from responsibility and growth. For some, it even becomes a time of spiritual slippage.
How can you harness the energy of summer into creating an effective summer routine? Here are a few tips:
1. Determine your priorities and goals
Before you begin setting goals, you want to be sure that you are setting them in the right areas. Take a moment to list your God-given priorities including your spiritual growth, your family, and your church and ministry.
Now, identify specific goals for these areas. Here are a few thoughts to trigger your mind as you plan:
- Spiritual—Scripture memory, reading Christian biographies, or a soulwinning goal.
- Personal—budgeting, beginning a hobby, learning a skill, losing weight.
- Family—dates with your wife, family nights with your children, home repairs.
- Ministry—administrative, teaching, correspondence, facilities, fellowship, discipleship.
2. Develop your schedule
A good schedule helps to prevent slippage in priorities. Without a schedule, we naturally do what is either most pressing or most enjoyable at the moment. Maintaining a schedule, however, provides a measure of accountability to our priorities. This simple tool can be the difference in productivity or unproductivity in the summer months.
3. Discipline your schedule
A schedule is a wonderful tool, but it is only helpful as it is used! Learn to develop effective lists, and practice aggressively completing your lists. Whether your system uses an iPad or 3×5 cards, be diligent in actually using it.
4. Delegate responsibility
We often think of delegation as an assignment a superior gives to someone under him. In reality, delegation is a matter of equipping others to serve along side you. It is investing in others to build and encourage them and to see the work of God move forward. In the church, especially, it is vital that those who lead in ministry are delegating responsibility as part of encouraging growth through mentoring and discipling.
There are two aspects to delegating. What we usually think of first is handing a task off to someone else. Perhaps you give someone a ministry or area of service to encourage their growth as they serve in that capacity. In these instances, you want to delegate cleanly—clearly defining the scope and mentoring by example before leaving it in their hands.
Another aspect to delegating is asking someone to join you in a task. This may be an organizational project or a facilities need. As a pastor, I’ve often done this by asking men to join me going soulwinning or working with them during a campus work day. As a dad, I did this by asking my children to help me on a household project and enjoying the time with them as we worked. This kind of delegating can be some of the best times for developing relationships and mentoring through real life interaction.
5. Deal with interruptions
The only thing you can plan about interruptions is that they are sure to come unexpectedly! Of course, even as we develop routines, we know that we don’t want our lives to be so tightly scheduled that we have no time for unplanned ministry opportunities. Yet, we also don’t want to spend our summer chasing interruptions.
When interruptions come, begin by assessing the situation. Perhaps this can be dealt with later? Perhaps it should be directed toward someone else? Or perhaps it needs your immediate attention. If the interruption calls for your immediate attention, respond to the needs, and then return to your God-given priorities.
Summer can be a great time of intentional growth! The simple key is the word intentional. Plan for growth this summer by developing an effective routine. Come August, you’ll be glad you did!