In today’s fast-paced, distraction-filled world, staying focused on what truly matters is more challenging than ever. As a pastor or church leader, you’re not merely managing a congregation; you’re spearheading a mission—a mission that can’t afford to get derailed by the myriad of “urgent” but ultimately inconsequential tasks that vie for your attention. So, how do you keep your eyes on the prize? The key lies in pinpointing and committing to your mission-critical priorities.

What Are Mission-Critical Priorities?

Mission-critical priorities aren’t just your run-of-the-mill important tasks. These are the activities and goals that are absolutely essential for achieving your overarching mission. According to a piece on Digital Adoption , mission-critical tasks are those that align closely with your strategic objectives and have a direct, measurable impact on your success. In the context of church leadership, these could be activities that directly contribute to disciple-making, community outreach, or even financial sustainability. They’re the tasks that, if neglected, could seriously jeopardize your mission.

The Importance of Setting Priorities

The ability to effectively establish priorities is not just a useful skill; it’s a necessity for any leader, especially those in church leadership. According to an article on Forbes, differentiating between what is urgent and what is important is crucial. Urgent tasks often masquerade as important ones, demanding immediate attention and giving the illusion of productivity. However, they often don’t contribute to long-term goals or mission-critical objectives.

For a pastor or church leader, the consequences of not operating from a standpoint of mission-critical priorities can be severe. When you’re caught in the cycle of responding to the urgent but not important, you risk neglecting activities that have a long-lasting impact on your congregation and community. For example, you might be so caught up in administrative tasks that you neglect sermon preparation, community outreach, or pastoral care. Over time, this can lead to a disengaged congregation, decreased attendance, and even financial instability. In the worst-case scenario, failing to focus on mission-critical priorities could jeopardize the very existence of the church.

How to Discover Your Mission-Critical Priorities


The first step in this journey is a thorough self-assessment, a concept highlighted in the Get On Track Workbook by me (Bill Tenny-Brittian). Take a scrutinizing look at your calendar. Are there tasks that someone else on your team could handle? If so, delegate them. Are there activities that, upon closer inspection, don’t really need to be done at all? Eliminate them. This exercise is not just about freeing up your time; it’s about freeing up your mental space so you can focus on what’s genuinely mission-critical.

Consult Your Team

You don’t have to—and shouldn’t—go through this process in isolation. As emphasized by ClearPoint Strategy, involving your leadership team in the identification process can provide invaluable perspectives. It also fosters a sense of collective ownership and responsibility. When everyone is on the same page about what’s truly mission-critical, it creates a unified, focused effort that’s far more likely to succeed.

Set SMART Goals

Once you’ve identified your mission-critical priorities, the next step is to set SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This isn’t just a corporate buzzword; it’s a proven framework that ensures your goals are clear and reachable. Each goal should be broken down into smaller, manageable tasks that can be tackled on a daily or weekly basis. This makes the daunting task of achieving a significant goal far more achievable.


The process of discovering and setting your mission-critical priorities is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor. It’s a dynamic, ongoing process that demands regular attention and fine-tuning. But the rewards are well worth the effort: a laser-focused approach to leadership that not only cuts through the noise but also delivers tangible, impactful results. So, don’t wait. Take the first step today toward a more focused, effective, and impactful ministry.

In the comments section below, share a ‘Hallelujah moment’ when focusing on a mission-critical priority led to a breakthrough in your ministry.