How many hours a week does your pastor pour into the ministry?
Before I answer that, let me review the foundation of our ministry.
For my wife and me, ministry is our way of life. It is not our profession. It’s what we get to do. It’s not what we’re paid to do.
We believe every Christian should have a similar mindset.
What is it like to serve in the office of a pastor? For one thing, it never stops. It only slows down on rare occasions when you can catch your breath. And those opportunities have to be sought out. We seek them out by delegating to others and forcing ourselves into half days off here and there.
I’m sure this is not the best illustration, but it’s the best I have at the moment.
The President of the United States is not the president only when seated in the Oval Office. Pennsylvania Avenue does not geographically restrict his position. Our president is still the chief executive officer of our nation even when he is on holiday or hopping about Air Force One. As long as that person is called upon by our country to occupy that position, it’s 24/7.
In like manner, my service as Lead Pastor is not restricted to Muscogee Road. Our worship center’s pulpit and platform are not the only places where mine is the Lead Pastor’s voice. The office chair and desk in our resource center is not the only place where my administrative duties are carried out. I’m still the Lead Pastor whether I’m on holiday or working from home. As long as Christ calls me to serve this community of believers, I’ll occupy this position 24/7.
The inherent danger of full-time ministry is the possibility of misplaced identity. I have to remind myself occasionally: I am a child of God. I am not what I do. I am Lisa’s husband and our children’s father before I am anyone’s pastor. My identity is based on Whose I am and not what I do.
So what’s an average week look like in the life of this Lead Pastor?
I arise out of bed somewhere between 5 and 6 every morning of the week.
On Sunday’s, the first thing I do is read through my preaching notes and pray. I’ll arrive at our church campus at about 7:15 am. I meet our Worship Pastor and Associate Pastor in the Worship Center for 5 – 15 minutes. We review the services, discuss transitions, and make each other aware of potential issues for the day. Once I’m in my office, I’ll review the message again and pray more.
My Sunday includes leading and preaching two morning services. It’s not unusual for me to have an after service meeting with my Servant’s Council or our Senior Ministry Staff. There could be a first-time guest meal to attend or an evening prayer meeting. Most Sunday mornings, I’m on campus for 5 – 7 hours.
By the way, I’m more introverted than most people realize. That means the act of spoken ministry and interaction with people on Sundays leads me to exhaustion and brain fatigue.
Monday through Saturday mornings start the same. I arise, reach for coffee, and go right into my devotional time. That’s a time just for Jesus and me. I switch over to spoken ministry preparation, writing for this site, and other administrative duties seamlessly. It depends on what needs my attention the most.
That means that before I arrive at my on-campus office, I’ve already put in anywhere from 2 – 4 hours. In today’s connected world, the pastor’s office is anywhere they can grab a few minutes with a smartphone and laptop.
Wednesdays are long days for me. The morning starts with spoken ministry preparation. From late morning to early evening, I’m on campus for administrative duties. And then there are a couple more hours of studying before our 7 pm midweek services. Typically, a Wednesday is about a 14 hr day of focused attention for me.
When the daylight hours are short, I work a few more hours most evenings. The next thing is always right ahead. My burden and privilege to preach the Gospel and teach the Word don’t cease. Even if I have a staff member or a guest speaker lined up for speaking, I still prayerfully plan and work ahead.
Our campus is officially closed on Fridays and Saturdays. But I do find myself there more often than I’ll admit to for various projects or meetings. At a minimum, I try to take half a day off on Fridays and half the day on Saturdays. I do sometimes (rarely) take a whole day off without going on campus or opening my laptop.
I’ve not even discussed the possibility of visitations or denominational meetings. And don’t forget that the average pastor now has a social media ministry. But, don’t feel sorry for me. I set my own schedule.
I can’t tell you how many hours per week your pastor pours into the ministry. If they’re anything like me, it’s probably more than you realize. But we love what we do, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
There’s one thing you can do to help. Pray often for your pastor. They don’t have to be tedious and long prayers. Daily missiles (brief sentence prayers) sent towards Heaven are much appreciated.
Ideally, ministry life is about settling into rhythms of grace. But make no mistake about it. It’s a lifestyle of grace under pressure.
So, the next time someone says your pastor only works on Sundays, you correct their attempt at impersonating a court jester. I’m kind of busy.