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A Closer Look At My Schedule

11.09.2023

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This is part three of Structure that Leads to Flourishing—an excerpt series from Ben Stuart’s book Rest & War. Click here for part one, click here for part two, and click here to grab a copy of this special resource.


I will go ahead and share with you the schedule I’ve found works for me, and along the way I’ll point out how being a student of myself helped me become a better steward of myself.

Usually my time with the Lord in the morning flows naturally into strategic planning for the day and for the ministry I lead. At 7:30 a.m. I grab breakfast with the kids. We read a passage of Scripture and discuss, then they are out the door by 7:50 a.m. and I am back in the study at 8:00 a.m. I have discovered that my mind is most creative in the mornings, so every weekday I dedicate 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. to sermon writing and strategic thinking.

Frequent interruptions from texts or emails destroy the flow of creative thinking in those hours. So I instructed my staff, “Do not reach out to me at all from eight to eleven every weekday morning. If you have a question, write it down. It can wait.” I’ve also stopped checking emails in the morning. I always found that it put me into a reactive mindset rather than a creative one, and it was not a good use of my time.

But as a leader, I need to give my staff vision and offer myself to them as a resource so they can accomplish their goals for our organization. So I place meetings with leaders at 1:00 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Monday we have a meeting that sets and clarifies the agenda and allows them to get the direction they need from me to execute their plans with confidence that week. Wednesday is a brief check-in to answer any clarifying questions. I lead best coming out of my thinking times in the mornings, so I stack those meetings in the 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. zone. I rarely do lunch meetings now. I realized they typically ate up two hours, even though the meeting was usually about solving a problem that only required fifteen minutes.

My counseling meetings are scheduled in the 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. range on weekdays. Usually by three o’clock I can’t think creatively or strategically anymore, but I can listen. These are great times for me to pastor our people. I also stand out in front of our church on Sundays after each gathering and answer questions anyone may have. 

Sometimes people ask if we can grab lunch to talk. I have gotten in the habit of telling them no—not to be rude, but because I just know it probably won’t happen. I tell them, “I can’t promise an hour or two down the road. But I am all yours right now. How can I help you?” Normally, all they want from me can be given to them right there. Only occasionally will someone have a problem that is so acute and specific to my skill set that we’ll need to meet during the week.

From 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. I work out. I allow myself one night out a week with church activities. Every other night I am with my kids. From 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on those nights, I am 100 percent dad. I turn off the phone and put it away. In this current season my kids go to bed between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m., so that means I only get two to three hours with them on weekdays. I am not going to lose that time to a phone call or email or a TV show. The screens go off. We do homework and eat dinner and share our best, worst, and weirdest moments of the day. Then we read a book together and pray before bed.

From 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. I catch up with Donna about our day. We usually sit out on the back porch and talk. Then from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. I get ready for bed. I don’t take screens into our bedroom since they disrupt sleep patterns. Instead, I write a few sentences in a journal, spend a few moments reflecting on the day in prayer, and read two to three pages of a biography. And by 10:00 p.m., Lord willing, I am out. 

Fridays are my days off. I use them to handle a lot of the family stewardship stuff we need to get done.

Saturdays are my day of rest. I stay off the iPad and computer—they remind me too much of work! I read a book I like. We go on adventures as a family. Sometimes an adventure is heading out to find a waterfall at a state park, or it’s a walk around the neighborhood. But the kids know that Saturday I am theirs.

It is common for us to have twelve meals a week together as a family: six breakfasts and six dinners. My kids are young and I know it will not always be this way, so I don’t want to miss these moments.

Does this automation of my schedule stifle creativity? No. It liberates me to channel my creative thinking toward the projects and plans I care about.

I don’t have to spend decision-making power each day figuring out when to get up or when to schedule meetings. It is already done. When we organize our time and resources in a way that is efficient and productive, we are free to invest our energy where it really matters: building up our family and friends. That’s why we do it. We calendar as a way of loving the people around us. We structure so that they can flourish.

Take a moment before you move on and let the reality sink in that you have a divine calling under God. Your life has extraordinary purpose. You are meant to image God by organizing the resources he has given you so that all the life under your care, including your own, can flourish. 

Then ask yourself, How can I cultivate my life this week? What needs to go into my schedule? What needs to come out? What needs to be restructured so I can be maximally fruitful in the hours God has given me?

Try making a list of your titles and organizing your tasks beneath them. Then see how they might fit into the time God has given you. I pray that you will experience the joy and deep satisfaction of seeing meaning fill the mundane and eternity touch earth.

RHYTHMS OF REST

  1. How can you rearrange your schedule to cultivate and maximize your potential? What needs to be removed from your schedule? What needs to be added? What needs to be rearranged?
  2. Try the exercise described in the previous section: make a list of your titles, then write out all your tasks beneath them.
  3. Take a weekly calendar and see if you can schedule your activities by priority and not simply proximity.

This is an excerpt from Ben Stuart’s book, Rest + War. Click here to grab a copy of this special resource.

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Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.