Over the years, I have been guilty of spending an inordinate amount of time on the front end of a task or project. I sometimes live by the old adage “kill two birds with one stone.” Instead of only completing the task or project, I also create a system to make completing future tasks or projects easy.
Systems are helpful and useful for tasks that are going to be repeated or recurring ministry experiences. As an example, I was placed in charge of all infant dedications and baptisms at our church. Before I was placed in charge of those, every three months everybody was sent into a tailspin because we didn’t have anything pulled together for the baptism class nor the baptism service. Since this was going to be a recurring task, wouldn’t it make sense to create some automation and some systematization around this recurring task?
Mapping Out the Details
Now, some people think in their minds “I don’t have time to spend 8-12 hours mapping out all of the little details that come up. I don’t have time for that. That’s a waste of time.” In the short term, it is a “waste of time” to spend 12 working hours, maybe 3-4 days, of intense thought to every detail to be mapped out so that a task can be repeated with little effort. That takes an immense amount of time on the front end!
Interestingly enough, that type of dedication means that you are shaving off hours and hours and hours in the future. That 12 hours of investment, over time, is going to pay a massive time dividend. Listen, systems take time but systems make time.
The Systems Guy
Over the years people were blown away at how many balls I had in my court and how many of them were effectively spinning. I began to be referred to at our church as “the systems guy.” I would create a series of repeatable processes that other people could effectively pull off without my direct involvement. I would work diligently with those individuals on the front end to ensure that I was not missing anything. Even so far as the church secretary. When she receives a call about baptism, we would have a predetermined set of responses, a predetermined set of expectations for her and that part of the system was now well oiled and never going to burn us. Historically, she would have no idea what to say and this call would be placed into someone’s voicemail and it was a huge mess. But over time, when we put systems in place and we had the right people doing the right things, that system fed itself and kicked out time to everyone else.
Gift of Administration
Systems take time but systems make time. Now, you may not be the type of person who can think ahead and find out what items need to be in place ahead of time. You may not have that type of brain structure to consider those things. I would say if you don’t have the spiritual gift of administration, find someone who does. You would be surprised at how much automation and replication can be found in your ministry that you can set up repeating processes.
Also, I can guarantee that there is a high-powered soccer mom in your ministry who is at home with three kids and would just love to sink her teeth into some automation process. She used to be a high-powered executive and now she has children and all of this intense brain power and horsepower is being somewhat untapped in her mind. Turn her on to a task of automating processes and watch the time come back to you.
Systems take time, systems make time.