Organization Not Optional
Once an idea is recorded, we are now getting into territory where personal preference becomes more of a factor than before. Getting your ideas down isn’t optional. The process you use to organize them is. Ultimately, go with whatever you’re comfortable with and understand. If you can’t use your system, there’s no point in having it.
My own preference is using a spreadsheet with multiple tabs covering different categories and platforms of communication (e.g. blog ideas, sermon illustrations, leadership teaching, staff meeting teachings). Once a week I sit down with my assistants and list every idea I’ve had over the past week with the main idea, any scriptures I want to use with it, and the category or platform it belongs in. Each idea is then listed chronologically within its assigned category. This way, I can see all of the resources I have within a particular area and have access to the freshest concepts within it.
Whatever method you go with, keep in mind that your organizational preference is optional. Being organized isn’t. Many pastors use the excuse that they’re not naturally organized. Translated, that means, “I’m too lazy to take the time to make my ideas more accessible.” When God has given you inspiration, there is no excuse for mishandling it. Even if it doesn’t come naturally for you. Do the hard work. If nothing else, find someone who is more organized and empower them to do it for you according to your preferred design.
Execution Matters Most
Ideas are overrated. Execution is what really matters. Ideas become reality because of something you do. Not because they are written down. So it’s essential that you have some kind of a system to make sure your thoughts are being filtered into your sermons, blogs, staff teachings, and any other place where you have a platform. If not, all you have done is buried them in a document rather than in your memory.
In my case, I have an assistant who regularly goes through my spreadsheet and makes sure the strongest ideas are being implemented in their respective areas. For example, when it comes time to plan out our sermons for the year, he has access to every single series idea I’ve envisioned up to that point. If we want to do a series on giving, everything I need on that topic is put in front of me.
You might not have the luxury of having a paid staff member to help you do all of this. But don’t let this stop you. Find a volunteer. Or set aside a set time in your calendar every week and do it yourself. The dividends it pays far outweigh the time and energy you will ever put into it.
And remember that it’s not ultimately about efficiency. This is about learning to harness the infinite sum of knowledge and inspiration that is at our disposal because of the God we serve.
Considering the fact that we have a God who is constantly at work to reveal Himself, there should not be another group on the planet that is coming up with better ideas than the people he has chosen to use as his instruments of revelation. Let’s not waste what we have at our disposal.
Read Part 1 of this series here.
Read more from Steven here.