Spread Yourself Thick

Robert Thomas Quiring —  August 14, 2014

“The more activities we can cram into the year – the better our program will be.”  Have you ever been caught in this mindset?  You bet ya!

Would you rather be average at a lot of things OR truly great at a few things?  Um…

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I’ve tried the cram as much as possible approach… And I’ve been average at a lot and not great at much.  So, the last few years my mantra has become “spread yourself thick.”  Here’s why:

  1. Quality Over Quantity: I’ve always heard this when working out, but it applies to our lives and ministry as well.  We have been hoodwinked into believing that – More = Better.  However, what if we spent a majority of our energy on the most important stuff and did it really well.  Steve Jobs did this with Apple when he became CEO the second time around.  He took Apple from a ton of different products to just a few really amazing products.  We’re going to focus on a few things – and we’re going to do them really, really well.
  2. Practice Makes Perfect – 10,000-Hour Rule: Malcolm Gladwell discusses in his book Outliers how the key to success in any field is practicing a specific task for a total of approximately 10,000 hours.  Agree or disagree with this theory – it makes an important point.  We need to practice to hone our skills.  The more we practice the better we become.  If we are spread too thin – then when we do practice something important – we are not able to give our full selves.  End result – it takes us longer to get where we want to go.
  3. Ramp Up Creativity: The most difficult thing about being spread too thin is it leaves no energy for creativity.  That energy you have when you start a new job or return from a vacation – well – you can have more of that energy during “ordinary time” if you’re able to make space for it.  When we’re running around like a chicken with their head cut off… not so much.

This sounds like a lovely idea, but is it possible?  Honestly, there will be weeks and periods of time where you’ll be spread too thin.  However, it is possible to make this your new M.O.  Here are some ideas how:

  1. Talk About It: I was surprised by how helpful this has been when I originally thought it was foolish.  Tell people that you are trying to “Spread Yourself Thick” and why.  Then ask them to help you do just that.
  2. Retire Old Programs – Start New Ones: Every program has a life cycle and so it is helpful to retire old programs in order to start new ones – rather than just piling on more programs on top of programs.  If it is a successful program then keep it.  If it has run its course then gracefully end it and have a brainstorming session about what could take its place.  Invite those who helped with the project you’re retiring to be a part of that session if it would be helpful.
  3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate: When possible, delegate tasks to people you know will follow through.  When you’re in a meeting and action items come up, take the ones you need to, but encourage others to take the lead too.  The more you empower people, the stronger your ministry will be.
  4. Delegate Instead of No: Sometimes you need to just say “No” to certain ideas and programs.  Other times when a new idea or program comes up – you are expected to champion it.  Some ideas and programs need the pastor to take a lead role, but a majority of them don’t.  Empower people who share the vision for that program to be the ones in charge of it. 

Is it possible to “spread yourself thick” in ministry?  Are there any helpful ideas I missed?

Robert Thomas Quiring

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Robert is currently serving as an Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Pensacola, Florida. Robert is a husband, father, pastor, sweet tea lover, technology enthusiast-er, and webmaster of Masterin' the Pastorin'.