In Becoming a Coaching Leader, Daniel Harkavy points out each of us contributes something unique to our organization. He refers to these as “high payoff activities.” These are the things that each of us offers that “bring the greatest value to your organization, team, or customer.” Harkavy argues, of course, that we should seek to maximize these skills for the benefit of ourselves and others.
The big challenge for ministerial leaders is identifying these activities and then giving them priority. Most pastors would argue that preaching is a key activity that has great consequences in the life of the congregation. The pastor is most highly visible when it comes time to step into the pulpit and share a word (hopefully) from the Lord. I rarely find a pastor, however, who does not recount how hard it is to find the time to read, study, and pray in order to prepare their sermons. Too many other things get in the way. There are few things that a pastor does, however, that have the impact of preaching.
Another place where pastors can have a great deal of leverage if they invest themselves purposefully is in working with staff members or volunteer leaders in the church. Whether you call it supervision, mentoring, coaching, or just leading, seminaries do not often prepare ministers for this task. Because of this, many do not see it as important, but the investment made in the lives of others can pay off for years to come.
Although some congregants might not think of it as a “high payoff activity,” the time that the pastor spends with her or his family is crucial. For a married pastor, time spent in nurturing a healthy relationship with spouse and children is never wasted. For the single minister, there is also a value in committing to “family time” whether it is with extended family members or close friends. Such time is rewarded with a healthy awareness of one’s humanity and personhood that balances some of the draining challenges of leading a congregation.
An often neglected “high payoff activity” is personal time spent with God. The pastor who does not nourish his or her relationship with God will find that “the spring dries up” and there is nothing left to quench one’s thirst. No matter how much time one spends studying scripture for preaching and teaching, it is also important to let God speak to you through reflection on holy texts and in prayer.
What are your “high payoff activities” and how are you leveraging them? Wise choices can make a big difference in your life and ministry.