Busy leaders do not always make better leaders. Sometimes, busy leaders are just that: busy.

As three major holidays rapidly approach — Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas — leaders will be tempted to get more work done by speeding up the pace, working longer hours and taking on more projects. If you take this leadership approach, you will definitely be busy. But will you get more accomplished? More importantly, will you get the right things accomplished? There’s a good chance the answer to both questions is “no.”

Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill, an independent school in Durham, North Carolina, celebrates “unhurried excellence” as one of its educational values and pedagogical strategies. School leaders intentionally build space into the calendar for students to be at school but not in formal classes. During these unhurried times, students actively pursue personal interests and spend time deepening friendships.

When was the last time that you or any pastor you know went into Advent feeling unhurried? How can your church staff strive to create an unhurried schedule for the month of December? For most churches and church leaders, December is one of the busiest times of the year. Pastors even boast about how busy they are, as if a frenetic pace equals faithfulness to the gospel.

Initially, the pandemic led most of our churches to pump the brakes on our schedules. We had to decrease the number of in-person meetings and programming. Our calendar of events was powerless to stop the effects of the worst global health crisis in a generation. When the world reopens, what is your vision of what’s next? Is it your goal to return to the unsustainable pace that marked our pre-COVID ministry, or do you want to risk being less busy by design?


Busyness, business and vocation

By Warren Kinghorn

Before you go…

Ministry can be all-consuming. What might happen if we intentionally slowed down?

Our lives outside of ministry can make slowing down feel like an unrealistic goal, but it’s definitely worth the effort if you can make it work. Find a location where the internet service is spotty and cell phone signals are weak. If you can’t get away, then for a day or two silence all your text and email notifications to help you unplug as long as you can. Don’t worry: the work you leave behind will be there when you return. But the person who returns to the work will be more connected to God’s purpose and presence. Perhaps David was on to something when he wrote, “My soul finds rest in God alone…” (Psalm 62:1a).

I hope you make plans to slow down as best you can. God is at work so that you can be at rest. As always, you can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu.

Peace and blessings!

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity

More on this topic

From Advent to action

How can we make this season come...

Having difficult conversations

The more we learn how t...