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Breakdowns, burnout don’t reflect God’s plan, women’s leader says

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Christians facing a breakdown or burnout “are taking on tasks beyond our ability, tasks God never intended us to do,” said Margaret Kennedy, a women’s leader and member of Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Dothan, Ala. “God is never going to burn us out.”

Kennedy, founder of Threads of Hope, a radio and writing ministry in Dothan, led the seminar, “Tips for Tackling Time,” during the women’s leadership track at Discipleship and Family Week at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center, June 29-July 5.

While people may not be able to manage their time, they can manage their schedules by choosing what they do during a given day, she said.

“I feel that our busyness can be a blockage to kingdom work,” Kennedy said. “Busyness is something every leader will always struggle with. There will never be a time we don’t have to manage ourselves and our schedules.”

Kennedy suggested women examine all of their current responsibilities and determine whether God intended they take them on.

“Unless we are willing to live wisely, we will miss the will of God,” she said. “Sometimes, the most godly thing a wife or mom can do is take a 30-minute nap.”

Women who are leaders “are surrounded by a lot of people’s agendas,” Kennedy said. “People clamor for our time. But wise leaders determine to invest themselves in activities and projects they know they can accomplish.”

Jesus was a leader who managed himself while purposefully following his Father’s agenda, she said.

And women can do the same, she added, if they follow a few “time tackling tips.” Kennedy’s list included:

— Start each day with a quiet time. “You should start each morning scheduling some time with the creator of the universe. Find a special spot in your home where you go each morning.”

— Plan and prioritize in writing. “Make a list and rank it in importance,” she said. “Studies show that those who write down their goals are 90 percent more likely to complete their tasks than those who do not.”

— Be realistic about what you can do. “When we are trying to do too much, we are going to feel frustrated, stressed and guilty. Accurately block out the amount of time it takes to do a task. And don’t put more on that planner than you can possibly do.”

Kennedy suggested using only one calendar or planner, not several in various locations, noting, “Having two or more planners will only add to your frustration.”

— Strive for effectiveness over efficiency. “Efficiency is doing the job. Effectiveness is doing the job right.”

— Eliminate time wasters by identifying them. “Talking on the phone is the number one time waster. If you’re in the middle of a project, use the answering machine. And do not feel guilty when you utilize it.”

Other time wasters, she said, include paperwork, meaningless meetings, procrastination or indecision, lack of organization, ineffective delegation, inability to say no and attempting to do too much at one time.

— Consider your biological prime time. “When are you most active. For some, it is morning; for some, it is night. Do the tasks that need the most cognitive skills when you are most alert.”

— Learn to say no. “This is one of the hardest lessons for us as women, especially leaders, because we are susceptible to the Messiah complex. If we are not in charge of everything, we at least need to be on hand.”

Often, leaders take pride that they are in great demand, Kennedy said. “Our calendars are brimming and we wear that busyness as a badge. But healthy leaders graciously and regularly say ‘no’ to opportunities presented to them.”

— Create space for the new things in your life. “When you get rid of the clutter in your life, you will usually be amazed at the space it leaves,” Kennedy said. “To find time for new thing, you have to reduce or eliminate an old thing.”

God sometimes narrows a person’s life so he can broaden it, she said. “You can trust God in the broadening and narrowing of your life.”

— Learn to delegate. “This is a biblical principal. Moses did it. That was the only way in the world he could survive, and it’s the best way to train up leaders — by allowing them the freedom to learn and make mistakes.”

— Make meetings productive. “Don’t ever meet without an agenda, and a numbered agenda is best. People need to know there is a purpose for the meeting, and that there will be an end to it.”

— Employ time saving systems. “If you are going to use the new and improved electronic calendar, make sure it saves you time. Find out what works for you. Technology can be a time saver or a time waster.”

— Determine to destroy the paper monster. “Find out how long you should keep some papers, then after that, don’t keep them any more. When you look at paper, determine once where you should keep it. Handle mail now.”

She suggested culling out old resources, especially ones that haven’t been looked at in two years. “Experts estimate we could throw out 40 to 50 percent of the paper we store up.”

— Establish a place for everything. “We have too much stuff. Determine to de-clutter your house.”

— Establish a quick pick-up plan. “Get your family to help. Say, ‘OK, it’s quick clean up time.’ Clutter is chaos.”

— Do not discount small fragments of time. “Use the time you spend waiting for appointments to read or write letters. Always keep a book handy.”

Kennedy said her son sends red-light prayers to God. “When he stops at a red light, he asks God to bring someone to his mind, and he prays for them.”

— Remember to assess often and adjust where needed. “When you find you are not succeeding in this area of redeeming your time, then just back up and ask God what adjustments you need to make.”

Kennedy said every day, each person wakes up with 86,400 seconds of time to spend. “We have no balances, overdrafts or carryovers. Try to get the utmost out of each day.”

Discipleship and Family Week at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center and LifeWay Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center are sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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  • Terri Lackey