Priority Filter and Consequences

It’s been 28 weeks since I’ve published a blog. Am I a slacker? Just busy? Am I working in the tyranny of the urgent? Allowing others to transpose their priorities on me? Or is this where my prioritization process lead me?

What project have you deprioritized lately? And for what reason?

What’s the “unfinished blog” on the corner of your desk? What’s the email lurking at the bottom of your inbox that requires some attention?

Daily if not hourly we’re intentionally and sometimes unintentionally making priority decisions related to work projects. So, in an effort to provide “practical takeaways for everyday church leadership” I thought I’d provide some of the filters I (try to) use. Look, things will get set aside. Their prioritization will decrease, but it’s important that there’s some intentionality to this.

4 Priority Filter Questions

  1. Related to my work, is this a must do? Litmus test: I don’t do this work, I lose my job. Or things break. Or at a minimum I keep people from doing their jobs. If these could be true, the work is a “must do” and should remain a high priority.
  2. Am I called or convicted by God to do this? You could respond “no” to question one, and yet “yes” to question two which makes it a must do. For those who follow Jesus, and for those whose work involves church leadership, your priorities may not make sense outside of a spiritual realm, yet, if we’re called to do something or convicted, then it should be our highest priority.
  3. What’s the collateral damage if this is delayed? You may determine from question one it’s not a “must do,” that things aren’t going to break because it’s not done. Yet, a thoughtful effort of considering what will happen if it’s delayed. There’s likely some consequence, but how big is what takes measuring. As a leader one of our jobs is to make value judgments. In leadership, your priorities create or bog down others priorities pathways. Probably once a week I will ask someone I work with, “if X doesn’t happen, what’s the collateral damage to you or your team?”
  4. Is this really still important to me? My wiring is such that I like to finish things. If I set a goal, I really want to complete it. Yet things change. And what was important to me six months ago when I was planning my work goals may no longer be important (to me or my church). You’ve got to give yourself freedom to abandon goals when in light of current circumstances they no longer merit your highest attention. What’s one thing you’re plodding away on that really made sense even two months ago, but now you should really just “cut bait” and move to the next priority?

Consequences of Unintentional Prioritization

  • You’ll work really hard, but not move the needle – you’ll fill up your work with non-strategic work.
  • You’ll be the poster child for being the “tyranny of the urgent guy/gal.” You’ll move from project to project and only do what you “feel” up to (or even worse, what someone else feels for you).
  • You’ll do others’ bidding but not what you’re uniquely equipped to do (or even compensated to do).

Whether you wrestle down your projects, let them slide, and jettison them, be thoughtful about how you make those decisions

p.s. for those who care…Regarding my blogging and its prioritization…weekly blogging didn’t remain a priority when I reviewed questions 1-3 above. I knew ministry work at Brentwood Baptist was not going to be halted because I stopped writing. I didn’t feel like I was ignoring a calling or conviction from God. And no one’s work lives were messed up because they don’t get a weekly Dodridge download. But question four, yes, it was important to me. It just wasn’t as important as other things at the time. But now, I’m raising its priority again, and I hope from time to time, reading the blog lands somewhere on your weekly priority list.

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10 Interview Questions for a Minister’s Spiritual Life

We’ve hired nine ministers this year for our church – which means we’ve probably gone through our selection process thirty times. So when I write about the need for insightful interview questions, it comes from a place of need for me (and my church). There are many factors for discerning someone’s spiritual maturity, and that assessment can’t be determined solely by interview questions. However, I’ve listed ten questions I use regularly that help me get a snapshot of a candidate’s spiritual status and trajectory. (If you’re interested, our church’s full section process is available for a nominal cost at

In recent previous posts, I’ve listed both my favorite initial interview questions for a church staff member and also my go-to questions when I’m moving from the discovery phase to the drill down phase of interviewing.

While those sets of questions are important, questions specifically related to their spiritual development is key in our process for our “minister” positions. Below are ten questions that have prompted the most telling responses from candidates. In some cases we have them answer in writing so they have time for an in-depth response – whereas other times, I prefer to have them answer in person (I’ve noted my preference of written or in person after each questions below).

Since I want to understand the person’s spiritual reality and not their preferred or aspirational spiritual life, I try to ask questions just a little bit differently so they’re unlikely to reply with their stock “Sunday School” answer.

  1. Describe for us your ministry path and the spiritual markers along the way. (Written)
  2. In your spiritual walk, how has God used adversity to mature you? (Written)
  3. Share how you have discipled people over the last five years. (In person)
  4. Please share your spiritual disciplines and practices. (In person)
  5. What evidence is there in your life and ministry that you are leading in the power of the Spirit, and not out of your own abilities and strengths? (Written or in person)
  6. What steps do you take to guard and cultivate your integrity? (In person)
  7. Are there any areas in your life that could be considered by Biblical standards to be out of balance or in excess? (Written or in person)
  8. What steps do you follow when you sense disagreement or conflict with someone in your church? Give us an example where you used the steps. (Written)
  9. In what areas of your life is it easiest to demonstrate self-control? In what areas is it most difficult? (In person)
  10. What are you reading in Scripture currently? What are you learning? (In person)

Just as a practical takeaway, make sure you’re prayed up before you host these interviews. Further, I’ve found it helpful to pray underneath my breath multiple times during an in-person interview, “Let me listen the way You’d listen, and not listen out of human-ness.”

Interview and hire well — it matters to our churches.

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Apply (or tell somone about) Our Ministry Residency

Application for the next class of our Church’s Ministry Residency program is open. Our third cohort of nine full-time ministry residents will begin August of 2017, and applying is your first step to being considered.

General information about the residency program can be found here at Also the FAQ page will answer many questions related to residency’s scope, program tracks, financial support, educational credit, and what’s required of residents. When you’re ready to apply, go to

Our Ministry Residency is now in its second year. For many years our goal has been to develop a pipeline of ministry-ready men and women who could not only serve in the campuses that make up Brentwood Baptist Church, but also serve other churches that are Gospel and Kingdom minded.

Check out the information, this very well could be for you or someone you know.

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