4 Steps Out of Overcommitment!
“Out of Control!” and ‘Exhausting” are the best way to describe my calendar. At least, my calendar as it was a couple of years ago. I was exhausted and over-committed. To be honest, I had become addicted to saying ‘yes’ to every invitation to serve. I justified it by thinking ‘it’s the church,’ or ‘it’s for God,’ or even ‘this is what I was called to do.’ But I was wrong. The more I took on the less able I was to perform at an adequate level, much less at a level of excellence. And the strange reality is that the more you say yes to the more you get asked to do. There was no shortage of new opportunities. By the time I came to my senses, with only a slight intervention from my incredible wife, I was committed to at least twelve significant roles beyond the local church I serve and my family. Did you see that? Twelve commitments that didn’t include my family or my local church!
Are you overcommitted? Do you find you are less and less effective in the roles where you serve? And more and more exhausted by your calendar and commitments?
Thankfully, that’s not how my life is today. I got out of that trap. But it took me 18 months to do it. I followed a four step process to disentangle myself from overcommitment and restore sanity to my calendar.
- Do a Time Audit! The first step is to take a accurate look at what you are committed to do. I honestly didn’t realize how many leadership and serving roles I had committed to until I did the time audit. It’s simple to do really, just sit down and list out every thing you’ve spent time on for the last six months or so. Categorize them however makes sense for you. My Categories were: Family, Local Church, District, Conference, General Church, Other. Don’t evaluate at this point, just list them out and get an accurate picture of all your commitments and general sense of how much time you spend in each.
- Self-Evaluation! The second step was to spend some significant time in self-evaluation, and frankly, a great deal of prayer. I needed to get honest with myself and ask some significant questions: ‘where am I serving because it’s where I’m passionate, gifted, or called?’ and ‘where am I serving simply because I was asked?’ and even more harshly, ‘where I am serving because it strokes my ego?’ When I honestly answered these questions I began to see where I might cut back my commitments, but I wasn’t entirely ready yet, I needed the third step…
- Get Feed-Back! I had a pretty strong sense of where I need to cut, but first, I went to some trusted friends and mentors. Folks who knew me well and would be honest with me. I shared with them my time-audit and my self-evaluation. We prayed together. And they confirmed most, but not all, of what I had decided to cut out. This was a humbling, and deeply moving experience for me. I’m usually a pretty independent guy and used to making decisions by myself. This was better!
- Make the Cuts! I’ve heard it said that a sharp knife cuts clean. And a clean cut was what I needed. But I had I made commitments, and these weren’t bad things, they were good thing. These commitments were solid ministries and I didn’t want to simply run out on the commitments I had made. So it took me 18 months to finish my commitments. You can do it too. But don’t fall prey to the next temptation; don’t replace them with something else. Just let them go. You’ll be better for it.
So what about you? Will you work this process? Will you disentangle yourself from overcommitment?
Will you allow yourself to serve only where you are truly passionate, gifted, or called by God?
Grace and Peace, Rich