An Intentional Office | Guest post from David Fletcher, founder of XPastor.org

He was a Mega Church Executive Pastor, and I was in his office for the first time. His open and comfortable office had already impressed me. But then he did it…he set the tone and comfort level for the meeting by pulling over an ottoman, and slipping off his loafers.

Message received: I don’t have to be intimidated by you or your office.

He was intentional about having a work space that allowed for no pretense or intimidation. That one meeting has impacted my office presentation and productivity.

Dr. Fletcher agreed to add this writing to my blog. Whether you need tips on office productivity or how to make your office feel more pastoral and less CEO, it’s in here. I’m honored to have David Fletcher, Executive Pastor, and founder of XPastor.org guest post.

The Paperless Office, Not Even a Paperclip

Dr. David Fletcher

Julie

Julie was an endearing, young missionary who had a fantastic ministry that I was dying to learn about.  About fifteen years ago, Julie came into my office and was on the verge of tears.

“What’s wrong?”  I asked.

“Well, you said that you wanted to see me, and there you are behind that big desk … and I feel like I’m being called to the Principal’s office … and have I done something wrong?”

I pondered what I had done wrong, not her.  I kept coming back to her words, “that big desk.”  For a month, I asked people about it.  I learned that my height (6’3”) can be intimidating.  Put an imposing guy behind a desk, and I become formidable.  I wondered, “If I appear serious when happy behind the desk, how much more when I am perplexed?”

The Paper Question

I discussed getting rid of the desk and people always came back to the same question, “what are you going to do with papers and reports?”  Even without an answer, I got rid of the desk.  I opted for a couch, two comfortable side chairs, and a small coffee table.

With the experiment, people found me easier to talk with and get to know.  The change of furniture also helped me relax in the office, not being so “down to business.”  I began to pray more with people.

The “paper question” was with me until the era of laptops.  Then I had my answer.  I would go with a paperless office and carry all needed items on my laptop.

From people around the nation, I have gotten the same response that many of you readers are thinking right now:

Question:  In a meeting, how do you handle a report that is given to you?
Answer:  Read it and give it back to the person at the end of the meeting.

Question: What about vital reports that you need to keep?
Answer: Ask the person so send it to me in MSWord or PDF format.

Question: What about … and generally people don’t have a third question.
Response:  See how easy it could be?

Janet

Janet was the wife of successful president of a large mission agency.  She came with her husband for a conference in my office.  We were having a wonderful time, talking about overseas ministry.  All of a sudden, Janet let out a gasp and put her hand on her husband’s arm.

“Is this your office?” she asked me.  I nodded.
“Where are all the filing cabinets?”  I told her why I didn’t need any.
“You don’t even have a paperclip dispenser!”  I confessed that she was right.  In my office I no longer needed paperclips, staplers or a trash can.

Janet’s eyes bulged at the prospect.  Her husband’s office was littered with 5 drawer filing cabinets and paperclipped reports.  Perhaps for him, paperclips were like brooms in Goethe’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

Pending files either go on my computer in a special area, or are kept by my executive assistant.  The same is true for ongoing projects and long-term files.  I don’t leave work scattered in my virtual or physical office.  When I come into my space, I see a clean work-slate each day.  Ken Blanchard, the management guru, once said that people accomplish more when then arrive at their office and the desk is clean.  Yes!

Conclusion

Hundreds of Executive Pastors have heard of my answer to “the paper question.”  Lately it has even become fashionable to not have much paper and go “green.”

  • Go paperless for 30 days.
  • Put all work in folders and “hide” them each night: pending, ongoing or long-term files. Use automatic software to back-up your computer each hour.
  • Maximize relational time.  Listen to the needs of those who God brings into      your office.  Pray with superiors, subordinates and sheep.  When relationships are strong, business discussions go much quicker.

Be the master of your office.  Work efficiently.  Focus on people.

About David Fletcher

For over 30 years, David has served churches from 1,000 to 8,000 members. As well as being a pastor, David is a spiritual entrepreneur. He founded XPastor as a global ministry tool for leaders of churches of all sizes. It provides the website, the annual XP-Seminar, workshops and certification courses.

 

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Can a part-time employee still be effective?

Hiring at a part-time level is purposeful in our ministry setting. It’s a part of our strategy to manage our resources until other factors drive us to full-time positions. We refer to it as “incrementalism.”

There are typically gains with small, incremental steps in both cost and efficiency. This is true of most ventures, but employee hours especially.

We’ve found if you have the right part-time people, and they’re managed well, they can produce far more results than their hours suggest.

Here are four key things a supervisor should ensure his or her part-time employee is doing so their hours can be maximized:

Anticipate

  • Last-minute boss tasks and other tyranny of the urgent matters;
  • Post-meeting tasks—and give time to address them;
  • Deadlines. Schedule out the time slots to hit deadlines. Annual budget submittals, Disciple Now, and VBS shouldn’t surprise you;
  • And avoid black holes. Give yourself a time limit for activities that tend to eat up time, such as Facebook, trips to the break room, engaging certain people in conversation (we all know people who can’t end a conversation).

Delegate

Ask yourself: is this the most effective use of my time? I’ve had to realize that although others may not say or do things like me, their work is still adequate.

I have to delegate and pass things along so I can focus on mission-critical initiatives. This is true for part-time employees as well. Which five-minute tasks could they give away?

You don’t always need position power to delegate. Be creative in determining who could willingly accept a task (there are capable and called volunteers).

Advantage Moments

Typically small in length, these can be fulfilling if used properly:

  • Mean-time tasks (phone calls, making copies) in between meetings or over lunch;
  • Group-like tasks;
  • E-mail templates (i.e. volunteer schedules, regular scheduling of meetings and agendas) See Michael Hyatt’s post to learn more about these;
  • And use computer shortcuts (find tutorials or ask a “geek”).

Meaningful Moments

  • Develop weekly Must-Do, Should-Do and Nice-To-Do task sheets;
  • Know what you have planned each day, before beginning the day;
  • And block out time every week for projects. Don’t try to squeeze in preparation for a presentation in between fielding e-mails from church members.

Whether the part-time role is a minister or support position, you can manage their limited hours to produce more than part-time results.

P.S. If you want your part-time role to go full-time, make your supervisor notice you. Let them see the amount of work you’re producing. They can’t ignore quality and results for too long.

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5 Ways to Leave a Church Well

After seven years of service at my church, I was granted a sabbatical leave. For those eight weeks, I scheduled activities, learning opportunities, rested, concentrated spiritual connection time, journaling, Christian counseling, and one writing project.

The writing project was my theological, philosophical, and methodological construct for how a minister could leave a church in a God-honoring way. Primarily, this was for me. I wanted a well thought-out accountability system for whenever it was my time to leave. I wanted to leave well—my time to leave came within three years.

After seeing first-hand and hearing horror stories of ministers leaving in ways that damaged the church they left behind (whether voluntary or forced), I determined I wouldn’t do that.

Culling resources from other leaders (not a lot had been written on the subject), searching Scripture, and simply thinking through things that make sense to do when you love the local church, led me to these points:

• Stop citing God for your pettiness.

• Lose your delusions of grandeur.

• Be willing to take the road less traveled—the high road.

• Finish well, including your work and appointments.

• Write an Apostle Paul-style resignation letter.

You can read the five pages of “Leaving Well” where I unpack each of these points. Below is the closing thought to my full article that will give you an idea of my thesis and hope:

We can choose to leave well. Our impact at our “former” churches shouldn’t be measured by the chaos we leave behind. There are no spiritual medals awarded for causing the biggest wake at our former places of service. We have to determine that our leaving will cause the least amount of disruption. Better yet, what if our leaving can glorify God?

For the whole article, click on Leaving Well

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