Thirty Minutes Faster 

What would your life and ministry be like if you were to live thirty minuets faster?

by Jesse Criss Edited with Grammarly Try it Free

Series Intro: Being an effective leader means we need to have the right tools for the right situation. The larger our toolbelt the more prepared we are for any situation that may come our way.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Thirty Minutes Faster Guide


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership and the things I have learned over the years, partly because I’m working on a new ebook on leadership but also because I have lots of reflection time these days.

If you have been following along over the last few months then you know I’m currently in transition. For me, that means I don’t now work for a church, and I spend most of my days being a Manny (according to my wife) as the new school year started. It’s my responsibly to get my twins up, feed, make lunches, get dressed and be off to pre-school three days a week. That seems like a simple task, but they are a lot of work. For this, to work, everyone needs to be up and out of bed no later than 7:30 am. That’s easy enough, but it also means that I have to be up and ready to go. Ya my wife is here, and we could tag team this thing, but she works from home and tries to get some time in before breakfast.

So really for this whole thing to work I need to be up, showered, dressed and ready to go well before the twins. But it’s not just physically being prepared I need to be mentally prepared as well. So the plan right now is to try and be up by 6:30ish each morning. So that I’m downstairs and ready by no later than 7:00 am.

I tell you this because this is a leadership principle that has governed my life and ministry for as long as I can remember.

Leadership Principle: As the leader, you need to be 30min ahead of everyone else.

This fundamental principle has been the driving force behind much of how I have operated in ministry. My goal is to always at the minimum be ready to go 30min ahead of myself at any given time. To be clear, that means physically, mental, emotional and spiritual ahead. Here are some examples of how that works in the real world of ministry.

  • Physically: If I have youth group on Wednesday night and have leaders meeting at 6:00 pm, then I want to have everything I need for youth group READY 30min before that meeting. That allows me to be not only ready for the meeting but gives my mind a chance to be clear so I can provide clear directions to my leaders.
  • Mentally: Typically, youth nights are formed into chunks of time that are about 30min long, mentally, you need too always to be about 30min faster than you physically are. So if your running games from 7:30-8:00 pm and then switching to worship. The band will need to know 15min before the switch so they can set-up when you want to start worship at 8:15 pm.
  • Emotionally: Life and youth ministry get busy, especially on youth nights. However, when your 30min faster than your first scheduled task, it gives you 30min to REST. To pause and breath, take a moment to eat, grab a drink or be still. This rest has been a life-giving moment for me over the years, especially on big event nights.
  • Spiritually: I genuinely believe that when you operate 30min ahead, you are learning to trust that Jesus is in control. Your youth night or retreat day is long, and there are all kinds of things coming you can’t control But what you can control is about 30min of time. After that, you are trusting Jesus to show up in big and powerful ways.

Being 30min early is not always easy. Even today in my home, 30min was maybe 15min, but I entered my day rested and ready for what was to come. In ministry, if you can be 30min ahead of yourself and teach your leaders how to be 30min ahead as well, it will change everything. Because you will walk into activity/program/event physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready for whatever God brings.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: The easiest way to start is to set a small and simple goal this week. All I want you to do is pick one activity or moment in your schedule and be 30min early. Then with that extra time rest, take a break, pray, breath, or read your bible. Don’t just go on your phone, though, rest and pause. If you keep this up over time, it will become natural.

Jesse Email Tag
If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.

How To: Prioritize Work

Recently of one of the people, I coach asked me the following question and I thought I would share my response and a weekly template you can try out on your own.

Written by Jesse Criss

Series Intro: There is a ton of things that happen in ministry that are just never really thought at Bible School. Being a Pastor involves a lot of on the ground training. This series is designed to help you with those “How To…” moments


Recently of one of the people, I coach asked me the following question and I thought I would share my response. Not because I’m so wise but because the question forced me to recognize a mistake I’ve been making in my leadership over the last few years.

Question: How do you know what parts of your job to prioritize?

I once had a friend tell me the first and most important thing to check off your to-do list each week should be the things that are seen as primary for your supervisor, boss or sr leadership. Because that is what they will be checking for first and foremost. However, when you get done what is most important first you get to move on to what you want to probably do. However, over time it will give you the credibility and freedom to be able to chase after what you feel is important because you will have a reputation for getting things done.

This was the mistake I often made over the last few years. I’m a person who always has a few projects on the go. I’m trying something new, writing out dreams, crafting a five-year plan etc…and because they were important to me they tended to take priority in my workday. However, they were not always important to my team, boss or sr leadership.

Here is the order of priority I wish someone had given me, and it’s what I passed on to the person I’m coaching.

  1. Mission Critical – These are the things that MUST be done this week for ministry to happen. Without them, someone will probably want to fire you. Example: Write the sermon you need for Youth Group before Youth Group. 
  2. Boss Priorities – These are the expectations of your leadership. They may not be daily things but they will probably be regular things. They may line up with MissionCritical stuff but not necessarily. Example: Filling out/submitting your timesheet on time
  3. Team Priorities – Is there anything your work/ministry team is waiting on you to complete so they can move forward in their job. Example: Booking the park for the kick-off event so that team member whos running games knows how much space they have to play on. 
  4. Leader/Student Priorities – Has a student/leader asked you to do something for them this week, or do you need to get back someone about a question they had. Example: Sending a leader the spiritual gifts test (Sorry Heather) they asked for so they can follow up with a student. 
  5. Personal Priorities – This is the stuff you want to get done. They may fall into some of the same categories as above but I would make the distinction that these are probably passion projects. Things that make you love what you do every day. Example: Creating space to dream about the future of your ministry, or inventing a new game/event for youth that you will eventually do. It’s important but it’s not mission-critical. 

The reality is the first three things on this list are probably weekly routine stuff that you just need to get done. If your responsible for all your administration then getting that stuff done (unless you’re like me) is the LAST thing you want to do. However, the last two priorities are often very life-giving. They directly full our passions and are often a bit more exciting.

The reality is once the first three priorities are out of the way you can get to the stuff that drives your passion and energizes you if the middle to end of the day when most of us are fighting the tendency to leave early.

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If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.

At The Table

When was the last time you invited someone to join you at your table and talk about life, love and faith?

by Jesse Criss and edited by Sophia Savalli

A little over a year ago, I watched the clip above for the first time. It’s produced by President’s Choice, a food company here in Canada. #EatTogether has been a campaign for a few years now. When watching the video, it is clear that the food company wants you to invest in food and buy their products. However, every time I watch this video I’m struck by a bunch of little things:

  • This girl seems lost in a world of screens
  • Everyone in disconnected, even the doorman
  • At first, no one really looks at each other
  • What conversation moved them to being in the hall?
  • How awkward was it to wait?
  • A simple knock implies a change of heart

 The video ends with the slogan “Nothing brings us together like eating together.” I would agree with that statement. Gathering around a table to eat has power. Growing up, some of my favourite memories are of gathering around my grandma’s farmhouse table. The house always had visitors and there was always the best food available. It was a simple table with benches and two extra chairs but somehow there was always room for who ever came by. We did, however, do more than eat at that table, which is why I would like to make an addition to the video’s slogan…

“Nothing brings us together like eating together…. and talking about life, love and faith.”

 It was around that farm table that I heard adults talk about life, love and faith. I distinctly remember these big conversations, heated moments, tears and joys being shared around that kitchen table. Sometimes it was during a meal and often it was during coffee or playing cards. If you wanted to talk, you sat at the table.

 Right now our world is saying “sit at your cubical and eat in isolation” because it’s more efficient. I would say that there needs to be a return to “the table” in our world. The table is where you go when you want to talk. But what does that look like for you? What’s your table?

Maybe your table is….

  • The spot on your stairs at school where your crew gathers at lunch
  • The locker you all meet at during third period because Sally’s mom always sends the good kind of cookies.
  • The empty board room that no one ever seems to use but is always booked for some reason.
  • The coffee shop on the corner by work. Their coffee is just okay but you have a “table” in the morning before the joint is officially open. 

I think everyone has a table somewhere in their lives but it sparks two questions:

  1. Have you invited anyone to join you?
  2. Have you considered the substance of your conversation?

The first question is simple: when was the last time you invited someone to join you at your table? If it was recent, well done! Now do it again. If it’s been a while, maybe it’s time to try again. The second question is harder to navigate. The goal is to talk about life, love and faith. All three are needed but we tend to just pick on only one.

My challenge to you this week is to invite someone to join you at the table and actively talk about life, love and faith. If you don’t know how to do that check this video below out. If you are comfortable talking about those topics, just gather and talk. Trust the Holy Spirit to work and guide your conversation.

DOWNLOAD PDF: At The Table

Jesse Signiture
If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.