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A busyness audit

Another street preacher on a different flower bed in Colorado Springs.

Several weeks ago I reported for jury duty in Colorado Springs. I didn’t think much of it. I’d been in the jury pool several times before, and the one time I was interviewed for a jury I was dismissed immediately after stating my occupation as “clergy.” I assumed this was a get-out-of-jury-duty free card I could pull out at any time. Things were different this time though. I was the second person called from maybe 200 seated in the waiting room, and was selected to serve on a jury for a trial that lasted two days.

On the second day, after lunch, I decided to grab a bottle of water at a convenience store up the street. Waiting for a “Don’t Walk” sign to change, I noticed a man standing on the wall of a flowerbed at the corner I was crossing toward. Leaning against the wall was a sign with a Bible verse or two on it. It became clear he was a street preacher.

Before crossing, I noticed something. A crowd of people was across the intersection waiting as I was, ready to cross in the opposite direction. They were directly behind the preacher, but he never seemed to address them. This street preacher was instead, literally preaching toward the street, directing his words in the direction of the cars passing by. Because it was mid-December, most vehicles had their windows up, so I doubt they could hear him. Even if a vehicle had their windows down, I cannot imagine they would have been able to hear an entire sentence, and certainly not an entire point. I don’t want to sound judgmental, but his ministry seemed… inefficient.

I won’t say he was ineffective because I don’t know that. Maybe someone on the corner waiting to cross, overheard something God used to warm their heart. Although this man was busy and passionate about this work, I wondered if this was the most efficient way for him to share the gospel on that December day in Colorado Springs.

Since my encounter the street preacher that day, I have been reflecting on the efficiency of my ministry. Like many associates, I serve in a variety of roles. Some are official, others are not. Like the street preacher, I am busy and passionate. You are too. But busyness does not always equal productivity. We can pedal really hard, and burn hundreds of calories, yet not get anywhere if we are on an exercise bike.

We associates would be wise to perform a busyness audit periodically, evaluating the efficiency of our efforts. The audit will help us find places where there is much activity, but very little progress. My audit turned up several places I could be more efficient, areas where I am focusing on the cars rolling by with their windows up, while missing the people right next to me.

I have begun prioritizing my agenda items better. I am trying to get back to a daily schedule of focus – one day worship, one administrative, one youth ministry, etc. I am also trying out a new task-management system (The Secret Weapon). Hopefully I am becoming more efficient in the use of my time and energy for my ministry.

How efficient is your ministry? Maybe it is time for a busyness audit.

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