Deadlines… When NOT to Take Them…

Posted: May 23, 2018 in Thoughts on art ministry and life
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve written several posts over the years about how deadlines are our friends. I believe that is true with all my heart, but is there ever a time not to work with deadlines. The answer is yes.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, tells us not to swear and part of that is this idea of letting your “yes be yes and your no be no” and we need take this to heart. As creatives, when we commit to doing something, we are often doing something the person commissioning us cannot to for themselves. They are depending on us to finish what we start and they need it by a certain time. God is not glorified if we prove to be undependable. To glorify God for the creative is to deliver what you promised, the best that you can do it and on time. Anything less can bring dishonor to His name. It is for this reason that we have to be careful about deadlines.

I made a personal rule a couple years ago that when it comes to taking on side work, I don’t take anything with a tight deadline. I broke that rule last week and I’m wishingI would have set things up differently. Now you might think, “Dave, you’re a creative, deadlines are a fact of life. How can you say you don’t take deadlines? What are you? A prima donna?” No, I guarantee you that’s not the case.

The fact of the matter is I already have more than a few deadlines. These are hard deadlines–things I must complete every week. The most obvious one is weekly. Every Sunday morning at 10:00, I must go to the front of my church and I better have a sermon ready when I get there. People joke, at least I hope they’re joking, that pastors only work one day a week, but the truth is, there is a lot to be done each week, but the thing that gets the most attention, and takes the most creative energy is the sermon. That’s a firm deadline. I also lead our church’s weekly adult Bible Study and for the last year and a half, I have been writing the curriculum. That means I have to be ready to go every Wednesday at 7:00. Next are the speaking engagements. 30-50 times a year, I speak at other churches and different events, and all those things have to be prepared. In addition, I am working on my masters. Now fortunately I found a school that is very flexible, or I would have had to drop that. I am also a husband, father and grandfather, and the last thing I would want to do is mess up those relationships. That’s why I don’t take deadlines.

I still want to serve others with my gift and I still can, but I must make sure that the people understand that I can’t do tight deadlines. This means I have to be secure enough to understand if people have to go with someone else for a project. The truth is, there are only so many hours in a day and we all have to invest them well. My recommendation. Only take deadlines if you know you can deliver and deliver well. We all need a little margin and some rest in our lives, otherwise this gift starts to feel more like a curse. It’s okay to say no sometimes, especially if saying yes would mean not keeping your word.

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