The 5% Rule

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Dr. George Calver was the first appointed doctor for the United States Congress. He was hired in 1928 at a time when congressmen were dying at a rate of 20 per year. Over the 38 years that followed, Dr. Calver’s prescription of moderation worked and helped countless leaders. His 10 Commandments of Health are famous. These commandments were on placards visible throughout the Capitol. They were printed on wallet-sized cards and distributed to every member of Congress with this urging: “If a person wishes to be on the job and physically fit, he must obey the following simple rules.”

The ten rules are wise and common sense. However, his overarching admonition is what caught my eye when I read of Dr. Calver’s work. He was confident that if people would “give 5% of your time to keeping well, then you would not have to give 100% getting over being sick.” I would call it the “5% Rule.”

If as church planters we would give 5% of our time – day after day – tending to the health and wellbeing of our personal lives and ministries, the preventive maintenance would pay huge dividends. 5% of a ten-hour day is 50 minutes. If as new church leaders we would give 50 minutes per day to various strategic tasks and concerns regularly (in most cases, not every day, but with a consistent rhythm over the course of each month or quarter), then our new “beachheads of hope” may be much healthier and more fruitful. Here are a few of those things I try to do to keep my ministry and life “machinery well-oiled and running smoothly”:

  1. Personal, focused time with each key staff, team, and ministry leader in my web of relationships for the sake of relational and soul care (monthly)
  2. Invested listening time to God through periods of Scripture reading, reflection, meditation, and prayer without a specific agenda such as sermon preparation (daily)
  3. Attention to review and revision of to-do lists including assigning or adjusting priority levels for each (weekly)
  4. Extemporaneous pastoring by connecting/communicating with a person or two who are put “front and center” on my mind by the Holy Spirit (daily)
  5. Executing a time log with consistent discipline for a two-week period for the sake of time use recalibration (semi-annually)
  6. Phoning, writing, or visiting each of my three adult children (only one lives near me) to continue sharing in their life journeys as well as celebrating and encouraging (monthly)
  7. Sweeping through my email in-box, Facebook account, calendar for the past 10 days, reminders in my Outlook system, and key paper files for overlooked needs, opportunities, and responsibilities with the intention of avoiding the “drop through the crack” syndrome (weekly)
  8. Mental review at day’s end of people I encountered over the past 24 hours who would be well-served if I were to express thanks, care, concern, support, etc. and act via text, email, written note, or short call (daily)
  9. Ensure a minimum of two schedule times of special refreshing/renewal for every 6-8 weeks that will last for 2-3 days are set in advance (bimonthly)
  10. Use of “My Fitness Pal” app on my iPhone to track my eating and exercising  (several times each day) as well as share the patterns with an accountability partner (monthly)

What would your key actions be that could be addressed by your 5% daily, weekly, monthly, etc.? It may be unsettling – even annoying – to try to think this though and establish a rhythm. Nevertheless, I can assure you that the results will bless and even transform not only you and yours, but so many others to the glory of God. Give it a try.