On my way back from a church conference, I got on an airplane with more than its fair share of church leaders on it. This particular conference had been wildly popular and the keynote speakers frequently reminded us for the need to be faithful, effective, and efficient. The men and women in attendance seemed to hang on every nuanced word. They nodded. Some amen-ed. Everyone applauded and some even stood!

But now we were on our way back home to face real life. Congregations with all their joys and challenges had been on hold as they waited for their refreshed and rejuvenated leaders to return. I was busy transcribing notes, jotting down future blog titles inspired by what I’d heard, and even writing a couple of full length blog posts. Every so often I lifted my head to stretch my neck and give my eyes a break from my net book’s mini-monitor.

As a glanced around me, I recognized many of the church leaders from the conference, all of them participants who had basked in the glow of vital church presenters. Although I was on a mid-morning flight, one might have concluded it was a red-eye out of Las Vegas. Most of the pastors were asleep. A couple were leafing through the latest SkyMall catalog. Two or three were staring out at the clouds, alpha-wave expressions on their faces. Not one was reading one of the many books I’m pretty certain they’d bought. No one was using an iPad, a laptop, or an old-fashioned pen and paper to gather their thoughts, plan their next sermon series, or create a life-changing resource.

Sure, some may have desperately needed a morning nap because of the Dramamine they’d taken earlier. I guess maybe, perhaps, possibly that SkyMall shopping could qualify as some sort of self-care. And without a doubt, dreaming about the next million-dollar (or million soul) ministry idea can be aided by looking out a window filled with fluffy clouds that look like puppies and turtles. But I admit I was suspicious that most of these church leaders were simply wasting time until they got where they were going.

We all need down time. Doubtless, creativity demands space to percolate in. But too many church leaders squander the present waiting for the next something. We all get twenty-four hours each day, and we all have a finite number of ministry days left. Faithful, effective, and efficient leaders get a lot out of those hours.

Question: How do you make the most of your commute or other spare time? Share your ideas and thoughts in the Comments section below.