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05 Dec '11

Accountability, transparency and calendars

Posted by T.J. Addington in Intentional living, Time Management, trust
One of the interesting issues in ministry is that there is often very little accountability for how pastors and others in ministry use their time. I have often been in conversations with church staff who are frustrated that they don't know where the pastors they support are or what they are doing when out of the office. Thus for many hours during the week there is no known schedule for the pastoral staff. In one case, the senior pastor was in the office two days a week and the support staff person has no idea what he does the rest of the week. In another case, staff do not have the permission to contact the senior leader when he is out.


On a personal level, lack of accountability is dangerous. On a professional level it is a terrible example to others regarding how accountable we choose to to be. In the professional world such lack of transparency is rarely accepted and where it is, no better an example. 


The more transparent we are regarding how we spend our time, the more trust we elicit. When our staff does not know where we are or what we are doing they can legitimately make all kinds of assumptions. When leaders are not accountable for their time, it sends a message to others as to how accountable they should be. When our staff knows how and where we spend out time (and the hours put in) it creates a culture of accountability and transparency.


Transparency and accountability make for high trust. That is why my schedule is available to all my key staff via electronic calendar sharing. I am also always available if someone needs to reach me. I can also view the calendars of the other members of my team. One can even color code their calendars by activity to understand where the key categories of time is spent. 


Of course that raises a simple question: Do we even have a calendar or are we just doing life by the seat of our pants? Just like our check books reveal the priorities of our spending, so our calendars reveal the priorities of how we choose to spend our time. If there is no calendar it reveals a low view of how one spends his/her time while a detailed calendar reveals a careful view of time spent.   


Time is one of those things that one cannot get back. Our stewardship of how we use that time is an indicator of our desire to live intentionally rather than accidentally. Our transparency with our team regarding our calendar reinforces trust and models healthy accountability.