A few months ago, my son’s friend (a middle schooler) asked me a question. Knowing that I am a pastor, he wondered about my work week. “What do you do all week?,” he asked, “Do you clean the church or something?” He pictured me sitting in my office during the week with little to do. Maybe vacuuming the sanctuary or cleaning windows would keep me from getting too bored. While we may laugh at this kid’s honesty, perhaps some of you wonder how I spend my time.
It is honest to say that I never run out of work. Many high-profile pastors have struggled with issues of life and time management. Some have neglected their families in light of a “higher” calling. Others have neglected their bodies, failing to exercise and eat right due to hurried schedules. A few weeks ago, Matt and I spent an entire day outlining our job/ministry descriptions. It became clear that we rarely work a 40 hour week; most of our weeks are 55-60 hours. So what takes up all this time? Why are pastors so busy?
While Matt and I serve different roles in this congregation, our work patterns are similar. We spend time preparing sermons or planning worship, leading teams of volunteers in ministry, reading current literature on theology and church life, caring for those who are sick or bereaved, communicating (through church publications or blogs), connecting with the larger Muncie community and spending time in relationship with people. Our work day is not 9-to-5, it is unpredictable and we don’t always have a weekly pattern. Evening meetings and late night emergency calls sometimes interrupt family time and sleep. Indeed, we have to work hard to keep balance in our lives.
While it may be difficult to define the work of a pastor, the primary purpose of our role is to lead this congregation in following the calling of God in our lives. This may involve conversation in a coffee shop, lunch with someone who is struggling, a visit with a hospital patient, connecting with other church leaders in the community or sequestering for prayer and study.
Our work often needs to take place outside of the church office. Because of the fluctuating nature of our work, it is difficult to predict where we may be at any given time on any given day. If you drive to the church office, you may or may not find us there. Nevertheless, I want you to know that your pastoral staff is accessible. Our cell phone numbers are published in the church bulletin; please feel free to call or text us. We will gladly speak with you on the phone or schedule an appointment. Some may feel hesitant about calling; it may seem that your concern or question is insignificant. Therefore, we are providing a staff contact request form in the church office. Please fill free to fill this out to request a contact with Will, Robert, Matt or myself.
Sometimes a 9-to-5 job seems appealing; predictability in schedule offers benefits. However, I love the work that God has called me to. And while I am rarely needed to vacuum or clean windows in the church, I do receive such assignments at home.