Getting Things Done is the name (GTD for short) of a popular time management method based on a book of the same name written by David Allen. This book, and others like it, are popular in the business world as individuals try to do more work in less time with fewer distractions. This is a worthy effort in a world where time spent on Facebook while at work can be measured in hours rather than minutes. However, when it comes to the Lord’s work, we can often waste a lot of time as well, though in different ways. Facebook may work into that a little bit, but the practicalities of increasing and maintaining involvement in the work of the church takes greater thought and effort than we often give it. We sometimes act as if the preacher planning something and then having it announced counts as a plan. It does not. To be successful and truly get things done, we should look to Ezra’s example in his return to Jerusalem.
Marshaling the forces necessary to begin a big project has much in common with Ezra’s determination to restore temple worship and respect for the law in Jerusalem and Judah. Preachers, elders, and deacons should take heed. Rather than just offering a personal contribution, true leadership knows how to get others involved as well. Therefore…
- Ask for volunteers (Ezra 8:1-14). People are more willing to help when they realize that the leadership wants them onboard and participating, especially if their role fits them and is explained precisely to them from the beginning.
- Recruit additional help (Ezra 8:15-20). Some people need some additional prodding to get involved. Do not be afraid to find the people who currently are keeping their distance and invite them to the front of the line.
- Focus people spiritually (Ezra 8:21-23). People work best when they understand their purpose and their importance in the work. No work for the Lord is complete without putting it into eternal perspective, praying about it, and helping others see this as a spiritually significant effort for the congregation.
- Delegate responsibility (Ezra 8:24-30). The best leadership relies on and trust others to become leaders as well. That begins by entrusting people with meaningful responsibility, giving them the authority to fulfill their work. Those who perform well under these circumstances offer the greatest hope for the future of God’s people.
- Get started (Ezra 8:31-32). Many of us are great planners but poor doers. We have wonderful ideas, but we never get them off the ground because we live too much in the realm of ideas and not enough in the real world. But rather than waiting for the perfect opportunity, the key is to put a good plan into motion and make the most of whatever opportunity you have.
- Hold one another accountable (Ezra 8:33-34). Without accountability most everything proposed in a meeting will die before the echo of “Amen” from the closing prayer has ceased reverberating. To accomplish great things, we must have great expectations, but to motivate one another to achieve them, we must also have great accountability.
- Support one another and worship together (Ezra 8:35-36). True worship unites us and reminds us of our collective identity and our mutual purpose. It keeps us focused on the important things in life and therefore motivates us to be involved in the things that matter for eternity.
This is how Ezra got things done in Jerusalem, and it is how we can get things done today.