Making the Minutes Matter
In this article an experienced parish nurse discusses the importance of time management in effective parish nursing.
Christian Parish Nursing: Making Minutes Matter
As I closed the door to the hospital room gently behind me, I glanced up at the wall clock to check my progress. I was running a little behind schedule, I decided, with two more visits to make at this hospital, one at a nursing home and then a meeting back at the church in two hours. I wondered if I had over-planned for the day and said a quick prayer for God's help in deciding if I needed to re-arrange things.
I have been a parish nurse for almost twenty years and over the course of that time I have seen my life change from the mother of three children at home to an empty nester with a grandchild that comes to visit. But one thing has remained constant: time management is a critical part of my ability to continue to do parish nursing and to have an impact in my church and community.
There are always challenges and every season of life presents new ones, but there are a few guiding principles that help me stay on course as I continue in ministry.
Keeping God at the center.
This is not as easy to do as it is to say and instead requires a great deal of discipline and intentionality. For doing good things for others all the time can almost become an obstacle on the journey of faith-after all, I'm doing it for God, right? But I have to remind myself on a daily basis that deeds follow faith, not the other way around. I have to ask him for guidance and direction daily, even in the most basic act of wanting to seek him out.
The Bible gives us some instructions on time management issues.
I see this in the Old Testament with scriptures such as Ecc. 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." And in Jesus' life, we see him constantly practicing good management. He had lots of people telling him what he should do, but he stayed centered on what he felt the Father was teaching him. In the miracle of the Feeing of the 5000, we see him take a situation of potential chaos and bringing order. He was able to get a whole crowd of hungry people to be seated, to give thanks, to eat, and even to turn in their leftovers-all in short order. We are reminded over and over that whatever we do with the right motives and with Kingdom principles in mind will bear much fruit.
Listening well to others.
Once that firm foundation of faith is laid, then the building blocks of time management will set themselves in place. In a large congregation, such as mine, that involves listening well to others and setting a course that fits well with what is going on already. When I get too enthusiastic, I sometimes whisper to myself, "Don't just do something, stand there!" as a way to remind myself that I need to focus my energies in an effective way. At our church, we have had a number of pastors, lay leaders, staff members, all with their own ideas about how the congregation should approach nurturing the membership and staying healthy in mind, body and spirit. As Parish Nurse, I find that it's critical to listen well and to be able to distill action from ideas. We want to honor one another's plans and yet adapt them so that they make practical sense in the context of a church.
Working ourselves out of a job.
As Parish Nurse, we can be innovative encouragers of new ministries while always looking out for the leaders that will spring forth. Delegating and stepping back from programs we feel an attachment to can be challenging. But as a great philosopher once said, "The enemy of good is better." And we do ourselves and the church a disservice when we cling too tightly to programs that we have birthed. When we open our hands to release programs sometimes they flounder but often they take off and fly beautifully in unforeseen directions.
Practical tips for Parish Nurses:
- Find efficient ways to keep records of what you do. It is worth putting forth a little effort at the beginning of the year to get paperwork under control.
- Making plans for your ministry for the month or even for the next six months can help guide your energy. You may have a Health Committee or a Parish Nurse Team; these folks can be great assets in planning.
- Using social media and available technology to promote and support your ministry.
- Maximize opportunities to dovetail with what is already happening at the church. An example of this is something like using the home delivery of magazines to those that are "At Home" members as a way for the children of the church to do outreach by making cards to send along.
When I started parish nursing, our instructor told us, "If you have seen one Parish Nurse, you have seen just that-one Parish Nurse. Because every one is different and what they do depends on the church, the setting, and the individual's calling in ministry." I find that to be so true in my community of parish nurses. We have some that are regular part time, some only a few hours a week, some on a stipend and some volunteers. This rainbow of situations makes us resources for one another.
I invite you to offer feedback here on what helps you as you do parish nursing. You may want to add to my list of practical tips! But whatever you are doing in parish nursing, I hope that you will be blessed in your efforts to make the minutes you are able to offer up be blessed and even be multiplied like the loaves and the fishes.
January 2016Last edit by Joe V on Jun 17, '18
Joy has been a Parish Nurse at her local congregation for almost 20 years. She also works part time for hospice. Her hobbies include playing with her baby granddaughter, cooking and reading.
Joined: Jan '15; Posts: 342; Likes: 1,168Jan 28, '16Thank you for sharing! I enjoyed reading this and found that some of your strategies are applicable no matter what specialty of nursing you practice. Thank you!Feb 5, '16I worked for 33 years at a large hospital as an LVN. God help often I prayed for to help me give care to my patients. This ws a great posting thank you.