I’ve always been curious of how other pastors and church leaders work. So I shamelessly ripped of Lifehacker.com’s How I Work series and began to ask other church leaders questions about their work.
Location (city/state): Clear Lake (Houston), Texas
Your Ministry (position/title): Executive Pastor
One word that describes how you work: Flexible
Current mobile device: iPhone 6s
Current computer/laptop: MacBook Pro
Connect with Preston:
Describe a recent work day:
A day with no surprises is rare. Ideally, I get to work after dropping my daughter off at “school.” (She’s only two but cool enough that we call it “school.”) When I get inside and sit at my desk, my first effort is to look through my (ridiculously long) list of tasks in Things (my to-do list app), and—taking into account whatever my meeting calendar for the day is—I narrow down the most important tasks for the day. I may write down anything from “Start sermon research,” “Prepare for […] meeting,” “Answer that email about why we don’t buy donuts with sprinkles for Sunday mornings,” “Find out why Jesus did such-and-such,” “Meet with Smith family about baptism,” “Visit so-and-so in hospital,” “Edit last week’s sermon video,” “Send that LONG overdue thank you note,” “Write new small group curriculum,” or a whole bunch of other seemingly unrelated topics. These are all real (or close-to-real) to-do’s in my Things account as I write this. Depending on the time I have available that day and the time I expect tasks to take, I prioritize the most important pieces, and the day basically plans itself.
I often need to remind myself that the work of the church has continued for thousands of years, and I aim for each of these small tasks to be a part of that heritage stretching back and forwards into the days well beyond my lifetime.
In other words, I aim to focus on things worthy of the sacred work of the church. And I don’t have to get it all done today.
Gadgets/apps/tools that you cannot live without:
The most crucial tool for me is my Google Calendar. Without it, I’d be lost. Things (the app) is great, and I’m always open to new task apps. I also use Evernote for all kinds of purposes—tagging, categorizing, agendas, notes, brainstorming, etc. The handiest part of Evernote for me is how it takes pictures of handwritten notes and keeps it stored in larger notes (which is what I’ll do for a series of pre-marital counseling sessions or for meeting with families preparing for celebration of life services).
What’s your workspace set up like? (Do you do majority of work from office or do you work remotely):
I love this question. Regarding the things on MY to-do list, I do my best and most focused work either outside of the office or at the office after normal hours. For this reason, I try not to go into the office on Wednesdays and work from a coffee/tea shop. However, I understand much of my job to be about staff and organizational coordination as well as relational investment with persons and families in the church community, and these pieces don’t fit neatly into a to-do list–nor are they predictable. So I work from the office regularly each week to prioritize availability over efficiency. Being available is often more important than anything on my to-do list, which is certainly something I am wont to forget from time to time.
Best short-cut; life hack you use:
Calendly.com is golden. I use it more often when scheduling things with audiences who are more comfortable with technology and with staff members I meet with regularly. It’s a challenge to get an “organic” feel with it, but I do think it’s worth using if you have lots of meetings. Feel free to browse mine at calendly.com/pastorpreston to see if it’s helpful for you.
How do you keep track of what you have to do:
Things … and openly inviting colleagues to remind me/stop me if they suspect I left something out or don’t have something dear to them on my radar.
What’s one of the least favorite aspects of what you have to do:
The aspects of isolation amongst clergy are hard. I absolutely love my vocation, but there are seasons where it truly feels like I’m emotionally and physically bruised. Because so many circumstances may be involved, it can be hard to know how to heal or how to rest.
Passion/Side project of yours?
My side projects are on hold. My passion is trying to figure out how to be a better father and husband. It may take a while.
What gives you joy about your work:
I love how every day is a holy day, and sometimes I remember to pay attention for it. What gives me the greatest joy is seeing others respond to God’s urging in their lives. Maybe it’s asking for prayer after worship or getting excited about going on a youth mission trip as a mentor. Maybe it’s when a baby smiles (or poops) during baptism or when a young couple decides to attend a church together after they get home from their honeymoon. Maybe it’s when a little child dances in the aisle during worship or when a family prays together in a hospital room after a loved one passes.
Currently reading/ or anything you’d recommend one to read:
I am currently reading Along the Road by John Beck. Due up is Monks in the World by William Thiele. To anyone in organizational leadership, I recommend The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni and hope to read it again soon.