Matthew Boffey discusses strategies for planning a preaching calendar, which may be useful if you’re combining study or teaching in the academy with a full- or part-time church work position.
Among Boffey’s recommendations are to
Plan at least one year out.… When you think of all the responsibilities and surprises … in any given week, you don’t want to add “decide what to preach this Sunday” to the list.
[and not] preach to who isn’t there. Your congregation may not need to know the intricate arguments for Pauline authorship of Ephesians, or why Schleiermacher is wrong about biblical inerrancy.
Going along with the first of these recommendations, you might try synchronizing what you will be teaching or studying at school with what you plan to preach or teach to your congregation.
Of course, as you do so, you’ll want to be mindful of the second point I’ve excerpted here. Technical work on the biblical text is important and needed. But it doesn’t necessarily make for good preaching and can simply provide an opportunity for a preacher to put on airs.
If you want to edify your congregation, you likely can’t read to them the same seminar paper or lecture you gave for your class. Instead, ask yourself “What’s the point?” of all the technical work that will be edifying, and then think about how to preach that.
While you can’t copy-and-paste from an academic paper to a sermon—or vice versa—that doesn’t mean you can’t “double dip” and draw from both for the same well of study.
Freedom gives some practical steps to take to clear your mind ahead of creative work. The post begins from the premise that, sometimes when we sit down to do focused work, our minds sometimes remind us of everything besides that work. In response,
You could throw your hands up and spend the next two hours — the hours you set aside for your art — chasing ball after ball as your brain lobs them at you.
You could tough it out, trying to fumble your way through your work while your brain continues to yell chaos at you.
Or, you could sweep all the chaos out of your brain and lock it out of sight.
Let’s do that last one. It’s easier than you think.
I’ve found value in several of the specific recommendations Freedom provides for choosing this last option. For the full list of suggestions, see the original post.
Brett McKay discusses willpower with Kelly McGonigal, a psychology professor at Stanford and author of The Willpower Instinct. The discussion has some helpful observations for anyone needing to do something challenging like learning a language or writing a dissertation.
Among the essay’s comments, the observation particularly struck me that those who cope more successfully with knowledge work
reach a measure of well-being not through fleeting achievements like inbox zero or mastering their to-do lists but by recognizing their limits and setting boundaries that allow them to better enjoy work—and the rest of living.
This observation deeply resonates with the importance of essentialism to healthy knowledge work and, indeed, healthy further study in the midst of a life where other things also matter a great deal (and perhaps still more). For further discussion, see, e.g., the interview below.
Jumping off from the productivity advice of Mark Forster, Jackie Ashton discusses how to get everything done while not letting work occupy all of life. The essay summarizes, Forster
points out it’s not time that we should focus on, he says—there are 24 hours in every single day, no matter how we slice and dice them. Instead, we need to learn to manage our attention.
This technique not only covers how to get the work done, but also gave me a systematic approach to decide what should be on my to-do list in the first place.
It’s a system that forced me to (finally) grapple with the time and energy constraints I’m working with and ensures that I’m giving each important area of my life the attention it needs.
The discussion may be especially valuable for students who are involved in people-centered vocations outside the academy (e.g., full-time church work) or faculty who sometimes struggle with whether and how much extra to invest in which students.
Roger Pearse discusses some hunting he’s done for John the Deacon’s Life of St. Nicholas. Pearse comments,
When using Google, it really helps if you have the BHL (Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina) number for the text that you are interested in.