Receiving and Keeping the Freedom to Work Hard AND Protect Your Schedule

Whenever I have shared the principle with leaders that “it is not how much you work but when you work,” I am inevitably asked how to enjoy such a freedom. In my last three roles (executive and teaching pastor, senior vice-president, and senior pastor), I have been honored with the gift to live by the principle of “it is not how much I work but when I work.” Meaning, I have been able to coach my kid’s team in the middle of the day, go to every recital, take Kaye to lunch, etc. in the midst of working hard and fulfilling the duties of my roles. Here are three ways to receive and keep the freedom to manage your schedule in a way that allows you to lead well and care for your family at the same time.

1. Be thankful.

Freedom with my schedule is a privilege; it is not something I am owed. An employer has the right to tell me that I must be in the office for specific hours — even hours I have planned to be out the office. Thus, I am super thankful that people I have been accountable to have given me such freedom. By being grateful for the freedom I show those whom I am accountable to how much I value it. By being grateful I also show that I feel responsible to steward this freedom well. Gratitude is the opposite of entitlement. When leaders act entitled they lose credibility. When leaders are grateful they gain credibility.

2. Get more done than you would without the freedom.

Freedom with my schedule should help me get more accomplished, not less. Freedom means more responsibility, not less. Freedom, for example, means I can work on a talk early in the morning when I am most alert and then exercise in the middle of the day – which is a more effective schedule for me. My goal has been to be one who delivers on my commitments, who executes well, who does what he says he will do when he says he will do it in such a way that those who I am accountable to believe freedom makes be a better leader for the organization, not only for my family. The goal is that your leaders will never regret giving you freedom with your schedule but will continually be glad they have because they see the freedom as part of what makes you effective.

3. Do not make excuses.

If you use the freedom as an excuse for not meeting a deadline, for not being prepared for a presentation, or for not responding to someone – you will likely cause people to think you are abusing the freedom. Make it your goal to not miss or drop balls but when you do, take responsibility. “I should have woken up early today to finish this. This is my miss. It is on me, and I am going to correct it this way.” Do NOT put responsibility on the freedom you have been graciously given, but on yourself.

To live and work by the principle, “It is not how much you work but when you work” requires credibility on your part. Be thankful and execute well to build your credibility.