Manipulation Is Not Leadership

Proverbs says a lot about flattery. One of my favorite proverbs reminds us that the wounds of a friend are preferable to the kisses of an enemy. Often people who don’t really have your best interest in mind will use flattery to manipulate you. I get frustrated with myself when I slip into manipulation by flattery mode.

But flattery isn’t the only way we manipulate people. Some people are master manipulators. They spend their time evaluating a person, figuring out that person’s “buttons”, and then press all the right ones to get what they desire from that person. Some people are “passive-aggressive” manipulators; they’ll bully a person by withdrawing and being silent.

Is there anything wrong with manipulation?

Many leadership “gurus” talk about the concept of “influence”, as being one of, if not the core competencies of leaders.

One author says “leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less”.

I read another book recently that said, “to lead others, an individual or group must be able to sway people to follow a proposed direction.”

The same book tells the story of a pastor who believes God has given him the vision to buy a vacant lot next to his church in order to create a parking lot (check the end of this post to see why this in itself is problematic). In order to accomplish this “vision”, he takes each of his church’s deacons out to eat individually. He has them meet him at the church so he can drive, and with each deacon, as they arrive back at the church he subtly points to the vacant lot and says, “Do you think God would ever allow us to buy that property?”

Over time, the deacons begin to talk about the property, and eventually decide to buy it, believing they have come to a Spirit-led decision because they all had it on their mind.

So I wonder… is this leadership? or is this manipulation?

Manipulation is a tool for those who fear the agency of others.

Here’s why I think manipulation is wrong. Manipulation is me making an effort to do something in someone else that I believe the Spirit has done in me, but won’t do in them.

When I choose to manipulate someone, I’m choosing to use deceit and subversion rather than straightforward honesty and authenticity. Which approach do you think the Holy Spirit is more likely to work through?

Manipulation in the church often stems from the idea that God gives a vision to one person, not a group.

I’ve heard many of the young, hip, evangelical church leaders make this argument.

I’ve read it in the aforementioned books. It goes like this:

“God reveals his vision to one person. It has been my observation from the Bible and in personal ministry that teams do not develop vision.”

or

“In the Bible, God never gave the vision to a committee.”

The result of this kind of thinking is leaders who believe that once God has given them a vision it is up to them to convince everyone else (by hook or crook) of the rightness of their vision. The implication of this theory is that the Holy Spirit cannot work through anyone other than “the leader”. So much for the priesthood of the believer.

Note this comment from one of the above sources:

“If you’re not the senior pastor, you have to trust that he’s hearing from God.”

The biggest problem with this idea is that it is just flat wrong. The greatest vision God ever gave to men was given to a group, not an individual. That vision statement looked a little like this:

“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

This brings me back to my starting point… Manipulation.

There is a very fine line between true leadership through influence and deceitful leadership through subversive manipulation.

I speak of the church because that is my life; but these principles are true everywhere: marriage, friendship, occupation, parenting, etc.

Anytime we use manipulation to influence people, we’ve asserted that the Holy Spirit cannot work through simple honesty and straightforwardness… and that is not a great place to be.

Great leaders understand that they cannot control or change the people around them. They reject the temptation to manipulate them into compliance and choose instead to lead through love, truth, clarity, and empowerment.

3 Things Every Pastor Should Say To Their Church Following The FBI Raid Of Donald Trump

Nobody shouted “Stop the Presses!”, but they could have. The news cycle came to a screeching halt this week and every major network was quickly consumed with the story that federal agents had procured and were serving a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago, the primary residence of former president Donald Trump.

Within hours, the competing narratives we have come to expect were being rolled out on competing networks. The most platformed Christian influencers were quickly serving up their own opinions. I saw one tweet encouraging pastors that they “must” speak to their churches about what happened this week.

I wouldn’t presume to tell any pastor what to say to their congregation, but I suppose such momentous news in such divisive times requires us to take a stand. So, here are three things I think every pastor should say this Sunday.

1. Jesus is the only hope for our world.

You may hope that the FBI raid is the final piece of evidence collection and that the justice department will finally have the necessary case to bring charges against Mr. Trump. That hope may be realized. But even if it is, it will not matter one iota in eternity and it will not turn one soul back to Jesus.

You may hope that the powers-that-be have finally overreached and this will turn into a colossal scandal that all but guarantees a second term for Mr. Trump. That hope may be realized. But even if it is, it will not matter one iota in eternity and it will not turn one soul back to Jesus.

Regardless of whether Donald Trump is found to be a criminal or a persecuted ex-official, what people really need to hear is that Jesus is the only solution for the sins and He is the only guarantee of abundant and eternal life. 

Any time you might spend talking about the FBI, is probably better spent talking about Jesus.

2. Love is the calling of Jesus’ followers.

You may have spent this week calling for justice against a corrupt administration that has done irreparable harm to our country. You may be calling friends encouraging them to get out and vote to ensure this great wrong cannot be done again. You may have assumed the last two sentences are about Donald Trump or you may have assumed they were about Joe Biden.

Your real calling is to love the people around you. Jesus never spoke ill of Caesar. He didn’t concern himself with the occupying empire (other than encouraging his followers to go an extra mile when compelled by the occupiers). He spent a great deal of time teaching how to love and commanding that love be extended to neighbors, strangers, and even enemies.

The people in the pews don’t need any more voices telling them who to hate and who to extend their anger (er… righteous indignation) toward. They need to be encouraged and reminded to love, and especially to love their enemies.

3. The Gospel is the message we carry.

The constitution is a great document. It has served our country well for over two centuries. It may or may not have been violated this week. The FBI may have overstepped its constitutional boundaries, and Donald Trump may have overstepped his. Either way, this is not the concern of the church.

We preach Christ, and Him crucified.

Pastor, you would do well this Sunday to not concern yourself with mobilizing political action. You would do well this Sunday to not concern yourself with inspiring social change. You would do well this Sunday to not concern yourself with pointing people to a new cause they should take up.

Pastor, you would do very well this Sunday to mobilize people to share and spread the Gospel. You would do very well this Sunday to inspire life change in Christ. You would do very well this Sunday to concern yourself with pointing people to Jesus and the new life they should take up.

*This post is not timeless. It will be dated very soon. Please apply the content to all current events.

4 Leadership Lessons To Learn From David’s Failure

2 Samuel 6 tells the story of David’s efforts to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. His first effort failed miserably. He didn’t take the time to consult God or God’s regulations for transporting the Ark. Instead of having the Ark carried by priests, he placed it on a cart pulled by oxen. In transport, one of the animals stumbled and Ark began sliding off the cart. The man who reached out his hand to steady it was immediately struck dead (no man was allowed to touch the ark).

After a time of repentance and mourning, David tried again and did it the right way. The day began with sacrifices and ended with celebration.

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Wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What can we learn from David’s mistakes? As I read this story, Here are

4 LEADERSHIP LESSONS DAVID LEARNED TOO LATE.

1) Listen to God. Check His Word for wisdom.

2) Pay attention to details. Obey in small things.

3) Think of the people you lead before you think of yourself.

4) Take responsibility and learn from failure.

Whether you are leading a major organization, a small team, a family, or just yourself; these principles will help you become a better leader.

Pastors Must Be Peacemakers

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a conflict between two other people? These situations are always awkward, especially when everyone is friends, and deep relationships are at stake.

2 Samuel tells an interesting story from the life of David that provides us with three great principles to remember when you find yourself trying to help resolve conflict.

David and his followers are on the run from Jerusalem. His son, Absalom, has led a rebellion and seized control of the capital city. As they leave, they are approached by a man named Ziba who brings them many gifts of food, drinks, and animals. David knew that Ziba was the servant of Mephibosheth (a crippled descendant of Saul to whom David had shown great kindness). David asked Ziba where Mephibosheth was, and Ziba answered that his master had stayed in Jerusalem to welcome Absalom.

After the rebellion was squelched, David returned to Jerusalem and began to deal with all those who had been loyal to Absalom. Mephibosheth came to greet him, claiming that he had wanted to go with David, but Ziba had not assisted him (he couldn’t leave on his own because he was lame). Mephibosheth claimed that Ziba had seized the opportunity to overthrow his master and ingratiate himself with David.

Faced with two completely opposite stories, David makes a wise decision (the outcome of which ultimately demonstrates Mephibosheth’s loyalty).

Read the whole story in 2 Samuel 16 and 2 Samuel 19.

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Out of this story come THREE IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES to remember when you find yourself trying to negotiate conflict:

1. The first story you hear is almost never completely right.

I find this to be true so often. Someone will come to me with a story about another person, and when I talk to the other person, I hear a completely different tale. Usually, you need to talk to both parties several times, and ultimately bring them both together in order to get close to the truth. (I’m not saying the truth always lies in the middle, but it is often somewhere in-between)

The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.

2. Don’t be beholden to the one who comes “bearing gifts.”

Often those who NEED to convince you they are right will “sweeten the deal” by bearing gifts. These gifts may not be tangible but may come in the form of flattery. Not too long ago, I was in a meeting with a person who has typically not been my biggest fan. However, in this context he realized that he could benefit from my support; and surprisingly, he began to extol my many virtues in ways I’ve never heard before. While it feels good to receive gifts (and we need to avoid being overly cynical), we should also be careful of having our judgment swayed because of gifts we’ve been given. Proverbs says:

A man who flatters his neighbor
spreads a net for his feet.

3. Beware of the one who quickly slanders others.

Ziba sought to gain David’s favor by tearing down Mephibosheth. In any conflict, it is very easy to be distracted by “ad hominem” attacks rather than dealing with the actual issues. It is easier to simply say bad things about another person and call their character into question, rather than try to determine the truth behind specific events that have happened.

A few years ago, in a different church, a group of people became very irate with some of my co-workers. I spent hundreds of hours sitting down with many of them attempting to resolve the conflict. In the end, though, it was fruitless because we could never consistently identify exactly what was causing the problem. Sadly, all I ever heard was attacks against the character of other people.

Someone who tries to win an argument by slandering, likely doesn’t truly have a case to make. Proverbs says:

He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.

Hopefully, you’ll not often be in a situation like this. Hopefully, you’ll spend much of your life in the midst of healthy relationships and people who love one another. However, if you do find yourself caught between two friends…

Remember David, Ziba, and Mephibosheth.

When Tragedy Overwhelms Your City

I am a pastor in Dayton, Ohio.

This week, our community is dealing with the brokenness of our world. Every Friday I send an email out to our church. Below is what I wrote in response to the week’s events.

This is a re-run. Other than a few edits, the first half of this email is identical to one I sent you several years ago after the Las Vegas shooting. I’ve updated it and added some extra thoughts at the end.

Dear Friends,

Sunday morning, we woke up to the terrible news that a man had chosen to destroy the lives of hundreds of people and families in our city. In times like these, it is difficult to know what to say. We have questions about why God would allow this and why these people’s lives were ended without any apparent reason.

As I pondered these questions and this tragedy, I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Luke 13.  Pontius Pilate, the cruel Roman leader, had ordered the deaths of many Jewish people. Their executions were carried out by Roman soldiers in the temple while they were offering sacrifices. This horrific act seemed senseless and horrific. For the Jews, it raised several of the same questions we are asking about Las Vegas.

In Luke 13, Jesus was asked about these events and in his response, he also referenced a tower that had fallen and killed 18 people. Here are Jesus’ words:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Consider the important points behind what Jesus is saying:

  • These people didn’t die because of their sin. Sometimes, in a fallen world, bad things happen.
  • Let this be a reminder to you that death comes for all of us, often unexpectedly.
  • Are you ready to die?

As we grieve for this great loss of lives and as we seek ways to reach out to those who are hurting, let us also take time to reflect on our own lives. Are we ready to meet our maker? How well have we invested the time and resources He has given us? What will I do today that will matter in eternity?

Also, let’s not forget, that in the midst of this pain and suffering we have great hope. We can still live with joy because we know that this present evil is only for a short time compared to the eternal inheritance our Father has prepared for us. We can be grateful to Him, we can have hope in the future and we can pour love and joy into the lives of those around us.

img20190805115507_1200xx4032-2268-0-378.jpgUndoubtedly, over the coming days, you will be drawn into conversations about this tragedy. During these times, remember the words of James:

James 1:19-20 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”

Conversations are good and they can be helpful, but perhaps they would be more healthy and more productive if they happened after we’ve processed the grief and sorrow and after we’ve had a chance to better understand what actually happened.

Consider these principles as guardrails for your conversations. These thoughts are all taken from Proverb 16:24 which says, “Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

  • Pause before you speak to be certain you are using the right words at the right time with the right tone.
  • The right words are always true.
  • Don’t bend, twist, or ignore the truth for convenience or to win an argument.
  • False words may provide temporarily feel good but they have no long-term benefit.
  • Some words are true but are not appropriate for every situation.
  • The truth and power of your words can be lost if your tone isn’t helpful.
  • Every word you speak carries incredible potential.
  • Your words can be weapons of mass destruction.
  • Your words can be tools of monumental construction.
  • Kind words can encourage those who are unsure of their own ability.
  • Attractive words can empower those who are under-performing.
  • Pleasant words can heal wounds from the past.
  • Angry and destructive words are withdrawals which bankrupt relationships.
  • Corrective words can be attractive if they are the right words at the right time with the right tone.
  • Use your words to encourage those around you and you’ll find yourself being more encouraged than anyone.

Have a great weekend! I’ll see you on Sunday.

Preach Through The Bible In One Year

June doesn’t seem like the right month to be thinking about preaching through the Bible in one year. However, my assumption (sadly, I’m likely wrong on this) is that most pastors plan ahead. I would hope that most have already figured out their summer preaching schedule, and many have planned their fall and even their advent preaching calendar.

If you need help putting together a preaching calendar, here are 4 Simple Steps to Create a Preaching Calendar.

Perhaps 2020 is the year you will preach through the entire Bible. You could even do some neat play on the 20/20 them by naming the series “Perspective” or “Perfect Visions” or something more clever than I can create.

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Below are three lists which can help you think about preaching the entire Bible in one year.

LIST ONE: Choose the 52 Key Chapters in the Bible

  • Genesis 2
  • Genesis 3
  • Genesis 12
  • Exodus 12
  • Exodus 20
  • 1 Samuel 16
  • 2 Samuel 2
  • Psalm 19
  • Psalm 119
  • Psalm 150
  • Proverbs 6
  • Ecclesiastes 12
  • Isaiah 52
  • 2 Chronicles 36
  • John 1
  • Matthew 1
  • Luke 2
  • Luke 4
  • Matthew 5
  • Matthew 6
  • Matthew 7
  • Mark 2
  • John 11
  • John 13
  • John 15
  • Luke 23
  • Acts 1
  • Acts 2
  • Acts 9
  • Acts 11
  • Acts 15
  • Romans 1
  • Romans 6
  • Romans 12
  • 1 Corinthians 1
  • 1 Corinthians 12
  • Galatians 5
  • Ephesians 4
  • Philippians 2
  • Colossians 1
  •  Colossians 3
  • Hebrews 8
  • Hebrews 11
  • James 1
  • James 2
  • 1 Peter 2
  • 1 John 1
  • Revelation 4
  • Revelation 12
  • Revelation 20
  • Revelation 21
  • Revelation 22

 

LIST TWO: Choose 12 Themes And Preach One Of Them Each Month

  • Beginnings / The Prologue
  • Patriarchs
  • The Law of Moses
  • Judges
  • The Monarchy
  • Captivity
  • Poets and Prophets
  • Parables of Jesus
  • People who Met with Jesus
  • Jesus’ Last Night
  • From Jerusalem to the End of the World
  • The End of the World

LIST THREE: Choose 12 Books And Preach One Of Them Each Month

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Ruth
  • Samuel
  • Kings
  • Ezra
  • Mark
  • Acts
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 1 John
  • 2 Timothy
  • Revelation

There are other options as well. Many people wiser and more experienced than myself have probably created their own lists which would be worth a look. Have you ever done this? I’d love to hear how you planned it out.

The Criticism Of Others Is A Valuable Treasure

The best “How To” guide for the ministry I have ever read is the book of Proverbs. I truly believe pastors should read Proverbs every day and find at least one “next step” every day. Our ability to lead well would be greatly enhanced by this practice.

Today is not the 25th of the month, but I am going to make an observation from Proverbs 25 anyway. Verse 12 says this:

Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

I have only ever owned one gold ring. It is precious to me. Several years ago, I was on a youth mission trip and was playing an old African drum with my hands. Suddenly, my wedding ring flew from my finger… in two different directions. I was devastated. No earthly possession was more important to me and now it was destroyed. (read to the end for the conclusion of this story)

A gold ring (or other gold ornaments) is valuable because it is created from precious metal. The reason my ring was so important to me was because it represented my relationship with Marianne. Gold is not at the heart of this proverb. Value is the primary idea.

Solomon (the author) is telling us that we must place a HIGH VALUE on those who are willing to reprove us.

“REPROVE” = reprimand, rebuke, reproach, scold, admonish, chastise, chide, upbraid, berate, take to task, rake/haul over the coals, criticize, censure; 

If someone is willing to correct you or warn you that you are headed in a bad direction, don’t ignore them or attack them. Value that correction! We do not gain a great deal of wisdom from those who tell us we are doing everything right. We gain wisdom from those who tell us we need to change.

In Ephesians 5, Paul says to PAY ATTENTION to how you fill your life. He challenges us to walk wisely. Solomon makes it clear that a wise walk places a high value on those who challenge us to be better.

————————–
In case you are wondering, the reason my ring broke was because I had spent so much time that summer in swimming pools (I was a youth pastor and a father of young children). The pool chemicals had exposed and then exploited a tiny weakness in the metal. I was able to get my ring repaired and today it is as good as new and as precious as it was the day Marianne put it on my finger.

David Platt, Donald Trump, and the Power of Prayer

David Platt is a well-known pastor of a mega-church in the South. That means in many other parts of the country, he is a relative unknown. This week, however, Pastor Platt got himself into some hot water because he prayed for Donald Trump in the service. Here’s a quick recap of the event (as I understand it).

Platt’s Sunday service was wrapping up. He had finished the sermon and stepped off the stage into some sort of green room. Before heading back to the stage for his traditional blessing/benediction, he was informed that the President had just arrived and desired prayer.

Apparently, Trump had finished a round of golf and asked to stop by Platt’s church.

Platt consented, went out on stage with President Trump and publicly prayed for him and with him.

Some applauded Platt. Some condemned Platt. Many shrugged their shoulders.

I am not going to tell you what you should think about this incident. Likely, my opinion wouldn’t sway yours. So let me throw a series of questions at you in case you’re willing to think through whether or not you think Platt did the right thing.

But before the rest of my questions, here is the most important one: What does the Bible say about this? It seems 1 Timothy 2:1-4 and Romans 13:1-7 are the most appropriate passage to consider. Feel free to read the two passages below and consider whether there is any direct or indirect application to this incident.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dign.png

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

And now, the rest of the questions:

  • Should pastors pray?
  • Should pastors pray in church?
  • Should pastors pray publicly in church?
  • Should pastors pray for other people?
  • Should pastors pray publicly for other people?
  • Should pastors pray publicly in church for other people?
  • Should pastors pray for other people who may not by Christians?
  • Should pastors pray publicly for other people who may not be Christians?
  • Should pastors pray publicly in church for other people who may not be Christians?
  • Should pastors pray for politicians?
  • Should pastors pray for politicians who may not be Christians?
  • Should pastors pray for politicians who do not always represent Kingdom values?
  • Should pastors pray for politicians who do not ever represent Kingdom values?
  • Should pastors pray publicly in church for politicians who do not ever represent Kingdom values?
  • Should pastors pray publicly in church for politicians who do not ever represent Kingdom values if that person is in the service?
  • What do you think?

Who Gets To Set The Pastor’s Agenda?

I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.

Have you ever had one of those days when your mind just raced from one thing to another, and you slowly drowned in the different (and likely difficult) issues consuming your life? Maybe you’ve experienced sleeplessness when your mind becomes full of the day’s cares.

What do you think Jesus would say to you if you told him about your stress and your anxiety? What would he tell you to do?

Living a life centered on Jesus means I choose to invite Him into my stress.

Especially on the days I’m overwhelmed, I must find the time and make the effort to shift my focus from my own issues and toward His agenda for my life.

Whichever “important” things have grabbed my attention, they pale in comparison to what Jesus says is important. If I can share his focus, I’ll find my life far less stressful and far more purposeful.

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Read and Contemplate 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul was addressing a church full of people who had their own agendas and were unable to get along. His solution for their dysfunction was to focus on Christ.

There are days when my life resembles that church. I feel pulled in so many different directions by that I can’t even get along with myself. I’m dysfunctional. I need to focus on Christ.

When I live by my own agenda, I reveal that I find my own wisdom sufficient to get through the day. Paul said true faith is resting in the power of God rather than the wisdom of men.

It is scary to center your life around Jesus’ agenda. It feels like the really important things might not get done. But if I pursue Christ’s agenda and rest in

God’s power, I can be certain that whatever does not get done, was not really important.

Today: Before you get too busy, ask yourself what Jesus would want you to do with your day. Center yourself on that goal, and let God take care of the rest.

My Favorite Todoist and Google Drive Hack

I’ve tried every imaginable todo list app and Todoist stands head and shoulder above all. Some of the reasons I prefer Todoist are as follows:

  • I can quickly entetodoistr tasks with due dates and repetition by simply using text (example: “update the church prayer letter every Tuesday at 8:30am”)
  • Todoist can double as a reminder app. The above task will notify me on my phone and my Macbook right at 8:30 every Tuesday.
  • Todoist allows multiple levels of subtasks which is great for larger projects.
  • I can create several different categories  and sort tasks using hashtags.
  • If I don’t finish a task on the due date, I have the opportunity to either move it the next day or reschedule for a future date.
  • I get a “karma” score for completing tasks, and can use that score to set productivity goals for myself. I’m currently on a 26 day streak of hitting my productivity goal. My all time record is 28, so I may break it! This isn’t really all that helpful, but it is fun and motivating.

It’s the repeating tasks that are so important for me, because much of my week is spent doing the same types of tasks I did the week before.

Every week, I send out several group emails to different teams. Todoist reminds me every day which group is getting an email.

My sermon preparation process is tightly scheduled. Every day I am working on one or more sermons, which are labelled as “Now, Next, Future or Distant.” Todoist reminds me which sermon to work on and what part of the process is due (example: “Categories (God, Jesus, Doctrine, etc.) for FUTURE sermon every Wednesday”).

I have writing projects I need to keep working on, so on several days I am reminded to work on this blog, the “Invested Study” or the gratitude journal. The second two of these projects are due in several months, but I need to take a bite every day in order to complete them on time. Todoist keeps me taking one step at a time.

The chrome app makes quick Todoist item entry easy. I click once and type in my todo with due date and time. I now have a reminder on my phone which ensures I don’t drop important tasks or contacts that come up during the day.

Although I don’t utilize this feature, Todoist also enables users to share tasks and projects with one another.

A few months ago, I tweaked my Todoist set-up with a new hack. It is one of the greatest productivity leaps forward I’ve ever taken and has cemented Todoist as indispensable for me.

Much of my work every day is done on Google Drive. I use sheets for my email lists (I know I could use other apps, but sheets works for what I need) and for the administrative and financial tracking I do every week. I create my sermon presentations on Google Presentations. Most of my sermon prep is done in a few Google Doc templates I’ve created for that purpose. As a team, we create our weekly publications and presentations in a shared Google Drive folder. The discipleship resources I produce every week are created in shared Google Docs.

Every google document (sheets, presentations, docs, forms, etc.) has its own unique URL. This web address is used by those who collaborate on the document as well as for making the document public. I use those URLs to enhance my Todoist experience.

Every time I enter a task into Todoist, I include a link to the document on which I’ll be working. Here’s what some of those todo items look like:

todoist 1

The brilliance of Todoist is that those URLs serve as links. I simply click on the address and the document I need to work on opens in my browser. Of course this can be used with more than just Google Drive. I have some todo items that link to MailChimp, some to Canva and some to online Bible study resources.

By my calculations, this productivity hack saves me about 5 seconds every time I use it (the time I would spend opening Google Drive, finding the doc and opening the doc). I use this hack 5-7 times each day meaning I’m saving about 30 seconds a day. This doesn’t feel significant until you realize that I’m saving about 3 minutes every week which adds up to more than 2 hours a year…

Well, I guess that’s not really all that impressive when you do the math.

But it’s fun. And I never have to remember where a file is stored. And sometimes productivity for productivity’s sake is worthwhile simply because it brings a little joy into your day.

Anyway, even if you don’t use Todoist, you can probably use a similar process on your todo app. Give it a try.