At the recent Global Leadership Summit (GLS), Bill Hybels talked about the 6 x 6 principle. If I understood him correctly, he selects 6 ministry priorities that he seeks to accomplish over 6 weeks. In principle I like this idea, as I find that I’m more effective with clear ministry priorities–but six of them over six weeks? I have a growing respect for Bill Hybels–in fact, besides John Ortberg, he was my favorite teacher at the GLS–but I wonder if the 6 x 6 principle is sustainable over the long haul. I mean, how many times can you do this in a row before exhaustion sets it? Now, it could be that Pastor Hybels selects a mixture of “major” and “minor” priorities to accomplish, which makes the principle manageable in practice. I don’t know. And I’m certainly not going to question the teaching of this godly and influential pastor. But in my limited experience, I wonder if the 1 x 2 or 2 x 1 would be more accessible and practical for regular pastors like me.
1 x 2: One key ministry priority per two-month period. For example, a top-priority for me over the next few months is teaching (in the church and public school).
2 x 1: Two key ministry priorities per quarter of ministry. For example, I’ve chosen to focus on teaching and pastoral care training this quarter.
In my opinion, regardless of the number or ministry priorities you choose for a particular period of time, the important thing is that you prayerfully select a priority(ies), so that you stay out of what Norman Shawchuck and Roger Heuser call an “activity trap.” I conclude with a passage from their book, Leading the Congregation (Abingdon 1993), which I’ve found exceedingly helpful as a pastor of a small local church.
When you have determined what is the one thing that only you can do, concentrate your time and energies on it, and then you will have broken out of the activity trap. Your work will no longer be shopkeeping or maintenance. . . . So concentrate on that one thing–certainly not more than two things, because you can do only one or two things well at the same time. . . . The Lord creates very few, if any, universal geniuses [like Bill Hybels?]. (80-81)