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Do You Need Breakthrough?

Do you find yourself hitting your head against a ceiling in terms of your work-flow or organizational world? You’re not alone. This is a series of three posts on resources that have helped me have “breakthrough” at different times in organization or workflow. First a quantifier…

Blogs really bother me when they seem to say, “Here’s how I’m so perfect/successful/productive or otherwise great, and if you would do what I do, then you could be too!” That’s never the sense of this blog—or least never my intention! Frankly, right now I am swimming in stuff, having inherited a ministry environment that is rapidly changing and in need of  new order. My organizational world is in a state of  re-invention, so this post is as much therapy as anything else.

What helps me (as a reader and a guy desperate for personal growth) is when somebody shares resources or processes that helped them. Recently I have been in need of breakthrough, and gradually God is giving it. So maybe something here will help you…

Here’s what I mean by breakthrough. We all come to seasons or places in life when we are banging our heads against the ceiling of our present personal organizational structure or processes. The tools and the ways we did things two years ago isn’t working any more. Lots of dynamics can impact this cycle. Personal or organizational growth/change, additional responsibilities, major season-shift in life, development of better technology/software, change in personal roles, etc.

In my experience, these “ceiling-hitting” seasons come every couple of years, and they call me to re-examine my organizational world—to look at things fresh and search out and set up new solutions that help me “breakthrough” that ceiling. Sometimes it’s a schedule or routine shift, sometimes it’s a new resource, sometimes it’s a new way of looking at the same information, sometimes it’s a change in priorities or job description. Whatever the case, breakthrough comes through prayer, patience, counsel, study, and research. This series of posts really focuses on personal breakthrough when it comes to ordering my personal and work world.

This year proved to be a total upheaval in my well-ordered world of process and structure. It was like an atomic bomb to my traditional way of working and thinking. It has required me to learn to live contentedly with God-ordained chaos, recognizing that sometimes my perspective of “chaos” from God’s perspective is “exactly where He has me right now.” In His mind, it’s a part of His plan. My completely disrupted organizational life is His providential reminder that He truly is in control!

Along the road of reconstruction, I’ve been groping and searching for new order. Week by week, my pastoral world has come more clearly into focus and little by little, the clean up has begun from the atomic explosion. I still don’t have well-oiled routines. I still can’t plan too far into the future as real-time events are unfolding faster than I can pre-plan. I still don’t feel nearly as organized as I’d like to be.

Before we talk tools, just consider that concept of breakthrough for a moment.

Are you finding that your present planner, your present tools, your present software or file structure has over-stayed it’s welcome? Are you hitting your head on the ceiling? Sometimes stepping back and starting fresh can bring a whole new perspective to your organizational practices. If yesterday’s system has stopped working what can you do?

1. Recognize it. It may not be a workload, energy, or time management issue. It may just be that you or your responsibilities have outgrown the system that worked well a few years ago. It may simply be time to admit that you are bumping your head and you need to rethink things.

2. Abandon it. If your system isn’t working, get rid of it. Systems that work for someone else may not always work for you. Software or tools that are right for someone else, may not be for you. You can continue to beat a dead horse, but you’re not going to get anywhere until you find a new horse.

3. Rethink it. Wipe the slate clean, step back, get the big picture of what you’re dealing with now. What is essential? What is God’s call? What is the long-term vision? Where do you believe God is leading you over the next 10 years? What priorities are you facing right now? And if you were starting all over, what tools and processes would best help you fulfill God’s call and vision right now? Study. Read books. Find out what tools others are using. Ask lots of questions. God will bring you ideas and solutions that you will use to build a new system.

4. Try new solutions. Emphasis on try! When it comes to organizational systems or processes there is not a “one size fits all” solution—no matter what the Franklin Covey or Daytimer seminars teach. What works for you probably won’t work for me. We can swap ideas, sharpen each other, and learn similar skills. But at the end of the day, our systems must work for each individual. In trying solutions, you’ll discard many, but you’ll keep a few. And those few will help you break through.

5. Keep the ones that work for you. Bottom line—it must work for you. If you can’t trust it, use it, enjoy it, and function well with it—then it’s not working. Your system will help you think and process information naturally, consistently, and efficiently. If you have to force it and cram yourself into someone else’s box, then it’s not working. It’s not a competition or a fashion statement—it’s a functional pursuit. Find what works for you and go with it.

Key question: What if I don’t have the time to find and try new solutions? Answer: You don’t have the time “not to!” The right solutions will pay you back exponentially in productivity and time savings. Every second you invest in finding solutions will jumpstart you in personal growth and progress. Every second you don’t, you are essentially losing ground.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re hitting the ceiling. Just see it as a chance to grow, to learn, to stretch, and to discover new solutions.

Needing breakthrough is a real head-ache!

Experiencing breakthrough is really exciting!

PS—Help me in the discussion portion of this post—what are some ways you have experienced the need for breakthrough? (In the next post we will talk tools and solutions!)

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  • Great post Cary, I am a young pastor with young children. Constantly trying to find a system that works. Always feel that either ministry, wide or kids get short end of stick. If there is one thing I am constantly reminded of by seasoned pastors is, We all have the same amount of time the question is how we use that time.

    Thanks for the post and looking forward to others.


  • Thank you for your recent article in the Baptist Voice. That was breakthrough material. I also had a recent breakthrough in ministry relating to this blog. When leadership is emphisesed over shepherding it puts a lot of emphises on technique. Changing my thoughts of ministry from CEO to shepherd allowed a breakthrough in both motive and method. It seemed i had hit a ceiling in ministry. Thoughts of leaving sheep to find greener pastures became frequent. Reading covey and maxwell did not click with me in relation to the flocks need for Pastoral guidance and care. Being reminded of this relationship role brought perspective to ministry and leadership.

    • Awesome thoughts! It’s sad to me that so many of the books and materials on the market today for church growth and pastors is presented with such a secular perspective. There are always things we can learn from leadership in any context—so I read and study as vorasciously as I can from all of these authors… but you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! They completely overlook the shepherding, spiritual, Spirit-led side of the pastorate—and that’s the MOST IMPORTANT PART! So much more could be said on this—but thanks for the thoughts!

  • I am at a moment like that in our ministry here in Patterson. Specifically, we have had a number of people step up in the past month to take responsibilities off of my shoulder. It is actually a great problem. However, sometimes it can take me longer to organize a job for someone else to do than it takes to just do it myself. Also, I have to start flexing my schedule to match their schedules to some degree. I am thankful for the help and the people who are helping are definitely competent, and yet I sometimes start feeling overwhelmed trying to keep up with the help. I know it is something in my organization that has to change. I certainly don’t want to back away from this good step forward in our new church.

  • I personally love Podio and I think it is a great, cost effective and flexible tool for ministry. You only pay for “Employees” and “External Users” like volunteers can use it for free including the app. I love it!


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