The Importance of Routines
There exists a certain perception, indeed... a romanticism, that is associated with spontaneity, living life in the moment, and going where the wind takes you. “Live life to the fullest! Be free!” Certainly, there are areas in your life where all these have their benefits. When we speak about stewardship, however, these childish notions lose their appeal.
There comes a moment when we realize that unless we are actively steering the ship, we are adrift, listless, and without a true direction; random events rule the day, and chaos reigns supreme in our businesses and life. We may not have complete control over each event that affects our life, but we cannot resign ourselves to the hopelessness that we have no control over the outcomes.
Control what you can
To be an effective steward, your days require structure. Establish systems and boundaries for yourself and make it a priority to adhere to them as part of the stewardship lifestyle. You’ll find that instead of confinement, your systems will provide freedom, certainty, and peace.
There’s an old song that used to be sung called Daniel Prayed. The peppy melody starts,
"There was a man one day that wasted not his time away.
He prayed to God.
Every morning. Noon. And Night.”
Daniel, one of the Hebrew children in the captivity of Babylon, because of his close relationship with God, found favor in the eyes of the king and ascended to a position great responsibility. The king depended on Daniel’s counsel. Lives were hinging on his accuracy. How is it even possible to live with that weight on your shoulders? Daniel’s solution was to establish a routine of prayer.
Daniel did not approach this routine with a cavalier attitude, “Maybe I’ll take a break today. Maybe I’ll have an early lunch.” Quite the contrary! In fact, he was so committed to his established routine of prayer that he refused to break it even when the king signed a decree for him to stop. Daniel was willing to be cast in a lion’s den because he knew his time with God was that important. That’s commitment! (Spoiler alert, he turns out OK).
There are few routines you can establish that will be more effective than Daniel’s. Contrast starting your day in the peace and tranquility of the Father’s presence with the common alternative.
Imagine the stress of starting your day by rushing out of bed, splashing through a shower, and gulping down your coffee. Having no time for an effective towel-off, you now get to experience the joy of your shirt clinging to your semi-damp torso as you rush to work wrinkled and disheveled. When you arrive at the office two minutes late (traffic, of course), you’ll still need to get your thoughts together and get organized just so that you can figure out whatever it is that you're going to be doing today.
We've all seen people (maybe that person is us) who operate in this capacity. They always seem like they are living in chaos. Nothing comes easy for them. You can streamline the activities of your day if you adhere to a few simple principles.
Simple routines make big impacts
To start, I would suggest the first thing you need to do when you get up in the morning is pray. You’re a steward, after all! What could be more beneficial than spending an adequate amount time with the King of all Kings! Every other matter of “importance” will wait. How long is enough? That’s a personal opinion, but here’s a Pro-Tip: If God is talking, don’t tell him you have better things to do.
Seek direction for the day and make sure whatever you have on your plate today is in perfect alignment with what He has planned for the day.
There are many things you can't foresee that will come at you over the course of the day regardless of whether you pray. I find that my attitude will be completely different about the same situation if I've spent any time in the presence of God. He will change my perceptions. He will give me words of wisdom to speak in trying situations. He will put locks on my lips to prevent harmful words that seem to roll freely when times get frustrating.
The way you walk into work in the morning should reflect
· Effective leadership
Relaying God’s message to the team
When you walk into the office, you should have consulted the king and possess a confident sense of direction for the day. However, you can't expect your team members to know what the King has told you unless you tell them. So, at this point of the day, I like to have a daily stand-up with my managers (who in turn will have daily stand-ups with their teams).
The daily stand-up
A stand-up is a core component of a methodology called “Agile” project management. Agile project management is effective because it is based on common sense and natural human behavior. A stand-up is basically a mini meeting. It isn't meant to be an all-encompassing meeting that covers every aspect of every part of your day, and as such, the standup should be limited to no more than 15 minutes. If you're going longer than 15 minutes, you're doing it wrong.
The simple stand-up agenda never changes.
1. What did you complete yesterday?
2. What are you completing today?
3. What obstacles do you have?
If you've got a staff you're delegating things to, your job as the steward is to make sure they can do their jobs. That's why it's important for them to identify any obstacles they have. Your job is to make sure that they can overcome those obstacles.
Communicating clear expectations is a component of effective leadership. You’ll find that if you don't have these daily interactions, your team members will run off in left field and do things to keep busy (that are helpful in their own opinion), but they'll typically have absolutely no connection to the overall business goal that the Lord has given you for the day.
This means you're not delegating. It means you're basically resigning yourself to do all the important work and accepting that your days will be forever stressful. Again, it will contribute to the overall chaos and confusion of the day. That's why Jethro told Moses, “You’ve got to delegate to those around you so that you can spend your time with the Lord!”
Never have lunch alone
When we get to the middle point of the day, we’re often having lunch meetings or rushing around to be prepared for our meetings after lunch. We're doing all kinds of things on our “break!” I find that around this time we're usually in the car. A lot of times we’re in the office, but even then it's usually a little quieter because our employees and team members are out to lunch.
I find that this is a very opportune time to take a few minutes and recheck-in with the King. Make sure you spend a part of your lunch meeting with God. You can do this in the car very simply. It doesn't take any more time out of your schedule, but just make sure to take a few moments to reconnect by taking a little break in the presence of the Savior.
Wrap it up and go home on time
At the end of the day, check back in with your team members. Make sure they are still on task. Remember, we'll repeat all this again tomorrow, but clear up any loose ends now before you go home for the day.
You need to make sure that when you return to work tomorrow you know exactly what you're going to be working on (notwithstanding any changes in direction that you would get tomorrow morning in prayer). The best way to do this is to spend a few minutes before you hit the door writing down the things that you completed today, the things that you're going to complete tomorrow, and any obstacles that you have. See! It all kind of rolls back in and plays together! When you go home, spend your time with your family, try to decompress, and escape from the stress of the day.
It's very important that you have a work-life balance. Have hobbies. Exercise. Go to church and worship. Read your Bible. Make sure you're making time for these critically important things. Work is going to start again tomorrow. You need to take these opportunities to balance your life.
Now I lay me down to sleep
Before you go to bed, I encourage you one more time to hit your knees and thank the Lord for the blessings of the day. Thank Him for all the protection He provided today that you didn't even realize you needed! Many times, you’ll get to the end of the day and realize, “Hey, this has been a pretty good day,” and finally understand that God was working on your behalf without you even knowing it, simply because you spent time with him in the morning!
These are very important routines that you can establish for your daily lives. A few simple steps will help you be a more effective leader, communicator, and steward.