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Assignment is such a critical word for a leader.

2 Chronicles 23:6 says “… all the other men are to guard what the Lord has assigned to them.” The apostle Paul said at the end of His life: “I’ve finished my race.”

One of the biggest challenges a leader wrestles with is staying on assignment. Much of the work presenting itself to a leader can pull him or her away from their God-given assignment.

The daily firefighting inherent in leading any organization can be distracting. It can also be intoxicating. Solving people problems, knocking out the items on your to-do list, running on adrenaline. These can bring a short term sense of accomplishment. But they often kill assignment.

Good leadership outcomes require a leader to regularly ask:

“Why did God put me on planet Earth?”

“What is my unique contribution to the organization I’m leading?”

“Am I doing on a daily basis what really matters?”

Leaders need laser focus to stay on assignment. To finish their race.

Guarding our assignment means we:

Devote our best energy times to our primary assignment

What activities move the ball down the field for you and your organization? What moves the needle for your church? Your business? And what part of the day do you have the most energy? Work on those mission-enhancing tasks during the parts of the day when you have the most juice. For me, it’s the morning hours. For some of my clients, it’s the afternoon hours. Figure out when you have the most energy and work on your highest value to-dos during that time slot.

Develop a to-do list that supports our assignment

Not everything you’re required to do as a leader is assignment-focused, in the sense it helps your organization reach its full potential. Some tasks are maintenance related . . . bookkeeping, paperwork, responding to email, etc. But too often we waste our high-energy moments working on low-value tasks.

This is where a to-do list becomes a lifesaver. I work off of two primary lists: A whiteboard list, and a weekly list that sits next to the PC in my office.

The whiteboard list is divided into four quadrants: Core values (I want to remember every day how to behave); Dreams (these are big picture items for the next few years); the current quarter’s goals (no more than 6-7 goals per quarter. These goals are mini-projects.); and the upcoming quarter’s goals.

The weekly list is built off of the dream, current, and upcoming quarters’ goal quadrants. I add client appointments to the weekly list as well.

I have been using this system for several years and it has created more focused production as opposed to just sitting down at the desk on Monday and wondering, “what should I work on first?” I plan my upcoming week on the Friday or Saturday of the previous week, so I can hit the ground running on Monday.

Deal ruthlessly with distractions

Here is where we need to take inventory, by asking ourselves several introspective questions:

What do I need to stop doing? Start doing?

Why do those “stop-doing” tasks keep showing up on my list? Why do I tend to allow the “stop-doing” tasks to take precedence over the “start-doing” tasks?

Who gets in the way of me becoming more assignment-focused?

Now, if you’re a pastor or ministry leader, people are a huge part of your assignment. If you don’t like people, ministry leadership is not for you. With that said, it’s quite possible the wrong people are monopolizing the high-energy slots of your day. Who are the wrong people? Those who have no interest in growing, changing, or contributing to the cause with their time, talent, and treasure. Who seek an audience with you not to learn and grow, but to get your stamp of approval on their choices and lifestyle. These kinds of folks can suck the life out of you. One of the biggest mistakes I made as a lead pastor was spending way too much time trying to get unfaithful followers faithful, and spending too little time with those who were faithful and on board. Be wise about who you spend your time with.

So let me ask you: what is your God-given assignment? What contributions can you alone make to the organization you lead? Are you giving your assignment the time, energy, and focus it deserves? Of course, you’ll have to tend to other tasks that aren’t assignment-centric, but don’t let them prevent you from putting your best energy into work that propels you toward finishing the race you’ve been called to run.

God won’t hold you accountable for what He hasn’t assigned to you. So guard what He has.

I’m rooting and praying for you!

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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