Pastors Report Struggling With Time Management, Over-Commitment

"Half (51%) say time management is an aspect that needs attention or investment today, while 43% specifically point to developing a balance between work and home." - Lifeway

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It would be interesting to see the numbers compared with people in other kinds of work. I wonder if it would be pretty similar to people employed in managerial roles, example. 

But I wouldn't be surprised if the 'time management' piece was higher than for most other vocations. One reason: if part of a very tiny staff (or all of it) at a small church, your time is almost completely unstructured other than Sundays + whatever regular weekly events you have. So all your structure has to be self-imposed vs. most jobs where a lot of the "what you're doing when, and where, and with whom" is decided for you.

The home vs work balance can be super difficult, not because pastoring is so busy (it doesn't have to be), but because proximity to home and ease of access and flexibility of your schedule can lead to different expectations from your family. Because there isn't a boss stopping you from being there or running errands or whatever, sometimes the expectation develops that you will  be there and run errands etc.

So there are more ambiguities than with most "jobs," and navigating them carries a few more hazards. The upside is a lot of flexibility.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Don Johnson's picture

There is no defined "work" or work hours. You are always on call, there is always someone who needs help whether they call or not, and the next sermon is always pressing. 
 

not complaining!!! It's a great life and great opportunity. 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The reference to undefined work reminded me of my first stint teaching school. I was right out of college, single, still a kid in so many ways. It almost crushed me because it quickly became clear that there was always something you could prepare better, organize better, manage better--and you could work 24x7 if your body and mind would hold up and still not exhaust the need for improvement.

Pastoring can be a bit like that also. If you're driven to keep doing it better, it can expand to fill all the available time, then into "not available" time, etc. This is why some guys burn out: the goal posts are always moving. Sometimes it's the congregation that does this, but maybe just as often it's self-inflicted.

Fortunately, by the time I began serving as a pastor, I'd gone through seminary and worked several 'secular' jobs during that period, and just did a good bit of growing up. I did not suffer much from the reality that there is no limit to the amount of work you can do to improve, and got pretty comfortable with a pace of growth that mostly felt appropriate. At times I felt like it wasn't enough, of course! At times, it probably wasn't. No, at times it certainly wasn't. Other times, I was going the extra mile for sure.

So a little advice to new/newish pastors: Accept the fact that you will always see room to do more and do better everywhere you look--and that you can't improve in all of those ways. You're just a man and only one man. Maybe the congregation or individuals in it will not see that. I don't have experience to draw on there, because I never faced unrealistic congregational expectations. But the self-imposed kind I know well: God knows we are "dust," or "earthen vessels." You don't want to be lazy, and there's plenty of temptation in that department, but you also don't want to be driven to the point of joyless drudgery and constant anxiety. You can find a sustainable balance.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

josh p's picture

This has been a helpful thread for one who is being ordained next Sunday!