“What do you do during the week? How do you spend your time? What does a pastor do when you’re not preaching a sermon? You only work one hour a week!”
I get asked that question periodically. It’s difficult to answer because no two weeks are alike.
The biggest blocks of my time are filled with study and preparation. Sermon preparation. Teaching a weekly adult Sunday School class. Teaching the Awana lesson once every six weeks. Leading a monthly elders’ & wives’ Bible study. The minute one sermon or lesson is delivered, I start thinking about the next one. An easy 25-30 hours per week goes to preparation. I’m also starting to review my notes for what I will teach when I go to Russia in March.
Meetings takes up a fair amount of time. Weekly staff meetings. Monthly meetings with our finance and missions’ boards. Twice a month meetings with our elders. Quarterly meetings with our Christian Education board. Weekly meetings with a group of men for lunch and prayer. Two different monthly pastors’ groups, one for idea sharing and prayer and one for lunch and encouragement.
Time with people is difficult to quantify. Conversations in the hallway. Phone calls. Email. Appointments. Hospital visits. Counseling. Discussions before and after services. These vary from week to week and season to season.
Administrivia. Planning. Email. Letters. Reports. Budgeting. Recruiting. Dreaming. Casting vision. How do you measure thinking about these things at your desk versus while driving in the car or waking at 3AM?
Prayer. Set times. Special times. Driving. Walking. Waking up thinking about someone. How do you quantify and measure prayer?
While these five categories are somewhat predictable and repeatable, the crisis du jour is the wildcard variable in each week. Here’s what last week looked like. (It was typical in the sense it was untypical).
- Tuesday – Received a request asking me to conduct the funeral for a young man who died suddenly on Monday. Spoke with the mother to console her and talk about the details of the service. The service will be on Saturday. Starting thinking about what to say.
- Wednesday – A person showed up at church claiming to be a detective who wanted to inform us of drug dealers in our parking lot. When I recognized the individual as an actor in a local theater company, I called his bluff. He left in a huff saying he would return with officers to have me arrested.
- Thursday – I contacted the police to report Wednesday’s incident. Turns out the person is known to the local police as a veteran with PTSD. Spent part of the day preparing for Saturday’s funeral.
- Saturday – Conducted the funeral and graveside service. The latter took place as snow was falling in the cemetery. In the afternoon, I played travel agent, booking airfare and hotels for my trip to Russia in March.
All of the above are ministry related. They don’t take into account my personal or family activities—watching NFL and college football, conversations with my wife, time spent preparing my remarks for my youngest daughter’s wedding coming up in February, as well as purchasing the needed supplies for the wedding and trip.
As one former colleague used to say, “I’ve been bored and I’ve been busy. I’d rather be busy.” Life is definitely full. However, I am NOT complaining. I have a sense of fulfillment because I am using my gifts to serve the cause of Christ.