This week. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes. 604,800 seconds. How should you spend them if you are a pastor or planter?
Let’s assume that you are sleeping well, getting the exercise that you need and that you are fully present with your family. You believe that your work is what you do, but it isn’t who you are. You are emotionally, physically, spiritually and vocationally healthy.
But you feel the pressure. You look online and see friends who are leading megachurches and gigachurches (I’ll save you the Google search; these are churches that regularly have more than 10,000 in attendance each week). You have ideas about how to serve your city, your denomination, your network. Friends encourage you to write and speak. And that doesn’t even tap into the needs that exist in the church that you are leading.
Set aside platforms and social media profiles. Turn off all the noise and pay attention to the things that you must prioritize as you work. Oh, and forgive me for the alliteration; I am learning how to translate my writing into something that Baptists can recognize:
Regardless of your preference for extraverted or introverted behavior, your schedule should expose you as a people person. Where do you spend your time before and after your worship gatherings? How much of your time is spent cultivating relationships with people who don’t know Jesus yet? How often do you eat meals with someone other than your family? Are you accessible to people (not every person, but a clearly defined group of people) when they need you?
A healthy church has built out a system for developing leaders. You should spend up to one-third of your time investing in the men and women God has put around you to help lead the church. And if you need help framing out the pipeline for your church, I would love to help you.
In my tradition, men are ordained to the ministry of the Word and Sacrament. Texts like Acts 6 show the wisdom of setting aside leaders who spend significant time developing biblical messages that declare the good news of the Gospel. Multiple factors inform the time spent in sermon preparation—experience, skill, life-stage. In an informal poll of coaching clients and friends, the average time spent getting ready to preach is around 15 hours per week.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of prayer in the life of a pastor. Resources abound when it comes to cultivating this part of our life with God (I recommend starting with Paul Miller’s A Praying Life before moving on to Tim Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy With God). But don’t confuse reading about prayer with the actual work. Connect prayer to reading and meditating on the Scriptures, prioritize consistency over intensity and aim for honesty rather than piety.
Pray. Preach. Pipeline. People. There is more to your work than this, but fruitfulness in your work demands faithfulness in each of these tasks. Take 15-30 minutes today to evaluate your schedule and make whatever adjustments are necessary to prioritize each of these in your work.
Know someone who might benefit from this? Feel free to share below!