This past Sunday in church I marvelled at how amazing it is. People praying, serving, inviting, hustling, pouring out their energies for others, worshipping Jesus, soaking in the Word, laughing, learning to love and follow Jesus. It prompted me to drift back down memory alley (not lane, alley).

Five years ago this Fall, I’d just stepped into the Lead Pastor role after seven staff members resigned (the former Lead Pastor, the Worship Pastor, the Family Pastor, two Children’s Ministry gals, the secretary, and the custodian). We found a great secretary and custodian, but that was it. Going it solo, I stood tall, beautifully green in my role—wide-eyed and naive enough to believe a young guy like me could thrive as a Lead Pastor, never mind survive the year.

FYI, on a good day with a well rounded pastoral team, a pastor can’t do it all. As you can imagine, this reality ballooned exponentially with me alone at the helm in a church used to having all those people serving in their roles. I distinctly remember my prayer as I moved into the “corner office”:

“Lord, I have twenty responsibilities, and I can only do six. My prayer isn’t, “help me do seven.” It’s, “Help me pick the right six. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

I prayerfully chose six areas of ministry to pour my life into—preaching, leadership development, Life Groups, Spiritual Leadership Team, and vision-casting. In particular, I chose things I’m gifted at, things I love doing and still wanted to do when we hired back a staff team. Guess what? Five years (and two extra pastors) later, I still enjoy the same job description. I love being a Lead Pastor, love my job, relish my calling.

I also know my prayer wields application power in your life.

What’s on your plate? Too much? Are you living scattered, distracted, stretched thin? Is your current space sustainable? We all go through days, weeks, or even months of extra busyness. But if your hard days routinely become hard weeks, that blend into hard months that never seem to end, be honest with yourself.

Time to make a list of which things are critical and which things aren’t. Time to figure out how many “big things” you have room for in your life. And then, time to pray a prayer, methinks:

“Lord, I have too many responsibilities on the go, and I can only do maybe _______ of them. My prayer isn’t, “help me do more.” It’s, “Help me pick the right ones, and stick to those. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

It takes courage to do what God tells you, no matter how disappointed others are. Good thing we don’t live for them, we live for Him.