7 Books Every Pastor Must Read About Productivity

7 Books Every Pastor Must Read About Productivity

There is one thing we all have in common, 24 hours in each day. Some people get a lot more done in their 24 hours than others.


As pastors, we have the most important jobs and one of the hardest.


So…. I think pastors need to be some of the most productive people on the planet!


Here are 7 books that all center some aspect of productivity.


Getting Things Done by David Allen


Getting Things Done (GTD) is a bestselling book, yes, but it actually an amazing productivity framework. GTD at its most basic is a way of organizing and quickly prioritizing your tasks.


My Major Takeaways

Get everything out of your head and on paper.

The reason we get stressed out is because we try to remember all the things we need to do, from groceries to home improvements, staff meetings, leadership development, milk and next week’s sermon. There’s too much in there to keep it all inside. You have to get it out of your head and on paper!


If something takes less than 2 minutes, do it right away. If something takes longer than 2 minutes, try to either delete it, deferred it or delegated it.

I love this!! As you collect the tasks that need to be done you should first try to figure out if YOU actually need to do it!


Smartcuts by Shane Snow


This one of the best books I read last year. It’s not the traditional “productivity” book. It doesn’t focus on getting more things done, it focuses on getting things done faster and smarter.


My Major Takeaways

Think laterally and hack the ladder.

Major breakthroughs often come through lateral thinking. By tackling a problem from the side you’re able to use knowledge and skills you’ve learned in one area and apply it to another.


Relentlessly seek negative feedback.

People who master any skill have one thing in common, they use negative feedback to propel themselves forward. Negative feedback is way more actionable than positive feedback.


Build off what others have already mastered.

The idea here is to use “platforms” to build on. Find the roads that others have paved and use them to go further faster.


The 5 Choices

“In today’s environment, the key to productivity is not to get more things done, but to get the right things done.” – The Five Choices, page 11

My Major Takeaways

Tackle the big rocks first forget about the gravel.

Devote the first part of your day to getting your biggest priority tasks done first. Ask yourself, “if I only got one thing done today, what should it be?”


The most productive people live in Q2.

“The key to getting into Q2 [the Important not Urgent productivity quadrant] is to pause your reactive brain long enough to clarify what is coming at you, then decide whether it is worth your time and energy.”- The Five Choices, page 49


The Power of Full Engagement

What the most precious resource? Most people would say time. This book teaches that energy, not time is a person’s most precious resources and the most productive people manage their energy not their time.


My Major Takeaways

There are four sources of energy.

Emotional, mental, physical and spiritual.


You can increase your energy capacity.

Building emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in done the exact same way we build physical capacity. We need systematically exposes ourselves to stress beyond our normal limits, followed by adequate time to recovery.


The E-Myth Revisited

This is a straight up business book but the principles of running a “hands-off” business have a lot over carryovers to being a productive pastor.


When most people think of being productive they think about how they can get more things done faster. The truth is that’s just productivity by addition (not sustainable).


But if you could start delegating all your tasks to others and use your time to work on new things, that’s productivity by multiplication.

My Major Takeaways

Build easily reproducible systems.

The author writes about the “franchise” business model and essentially building a business that runs without you. And that only happens when a business (or church) has easy to follow systems in place.


Work on your business, not in your business.

As pastors our job is not to do the ministry, rather equip other to do the ministry. But I think a lot of pastors get stuck in sweating the small stuff and they never free their time to think and work on the big meaningful stuff that will really drive the church further faster.


Here are a few questions to help you think through this aspect of running your church.

  1. How can I get my church to work, but without me?
  2. How can I get people to do ministry, but without my constant interference?
  3. How can I systematize our church in such a way that it could be replicated 5,000 times, so the 5,000th church would run as smoothly as the first?
  4. How can I pastor my church, but still keep margin in my life?
  5. How can I spend my time doing the work I love to do rather than the work I have to do?


Effective Executive

Sometimes we can get a lot of “things” done but are we getting the RIGHT things done. This is one of my favorite books and I try to read it at least once a year.


My Major Takeaways

Effectiveness must be learned.

Effectiveness is getting the right things done, not wasting time on things that are not working. There is no correlation between intelligence, creativity or personality traits and with the ability to be effective. We are not naturally effective, it is a learned skill.


Crisis generates pressure, not priorities.

Crisis generates pressure that is immediate, urgent, visible and focused in the past. Often crisis is internal, within an organization or individual, it is not observable from the outside and often not in touch with reality. It overshadows reality where the results happen, where things are relevant, and where the opportunity for the future is.  Successes come from not letting crisis control and distort our priorities.


Manage your time.

All work takes time, yet most pastors take for this finite resource for granted. Nothing else separates non-effective executives from effective ones as much as their systemic care for their time.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

In this best-selling book, the author describes our character as a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, habits constantly express our character and produce our effectiveness – or our in effectiveness. In the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  


My Major Takeaways

Begin with the End in Mind

Begin everything you do with a clear picture of your ultimate goal. Develop a principle‐centered personal mission statement. Extend the mission statement into long‐term goals based on personal principles.



“Two heads are better than one.” Through trustful communication, find ways to leverage individual differences to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Through mutual trust and understanding, one often can solve conflicts and find a better solution than would have been obtained through either person’s own solution.



Want to be a more productive pastor?

Then you should join our  7-Day Productivity Challenge.

It’s completely FREE and is designed for busy pastors like you!!