Before I entered ministry, I thought pastors only showed up on Sunday mornings and stayed at home the rest of the week doing not-much-but-taking-it-easy. Once I entered the “easy life” of ministry, I realized that this unreal view of a minister’s life was a common misperception. The reality is that it can also be one of the busiest and stressful jobs–depending on how one keeps life in balance.
For the past three weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten through a mountain pile of work that I thought I’d never get through. When I look back, I wonder how in the world I managed to do it.
At times, I found myself just squeeking by deadlines or going past deadlines. When you have to preach a sermon on Sunday morning, the deadline is usually pretty rigid–you know, like 9:00 AM Sunday morning. If it’s not finished, well, you don’t have a choice, you have to preach what you’ve prepared.
This week, some of the things I had on my plate were canceled so I actually have a little of breathing room so this may explain my less frequent blogging. I know I haven’t been on the blogosphere as often so I really miss it.
I’ve taken on some other responsibilities on top of my usual duties. Besides preaching and leading the worship services on Sundays plus weekly or monthly weekday services at the local hospital/health care center/seniors’ home, a typical pastor also might have some, most, or even all the duties below, like:
- preparing for, and leading bible studies / small groups / youth group;
- teaching Sunday school; adult Christian education hour; confirmation/catechism
- conducting weddings, funerals and baptisms, including preparation classes for such, plus membership classes;
- meeting with the local clergy-ministerial group or other pastors to share, learn and fellowship;
- community involvement (e.g., volunteering in special-interest groups, social work, justice work, etc.);
- reading books on theology, practical ministry, and/or spiritual formation;
- taking continuing education courses or advanced formal academic studies;
- pastoral care and counseling;
- hospital and home visitation;
- attending board-council/committee/staff meetings;
- attending annual conventions, conferences, and seminars (mandatory and optional);
- writing and submitting reports to your district, synod, conference, denominational office, bishop, superintendent, or congregation;
- volunteering on various denominational committees;
- plus other things I might have forgotten to mention. (Did I forget anything else?)
If your pastor is not doing all of these things, then something is wrong…Not!. Some weeks, a pastor might be so swamped with work that one cannot attend to all of these so they have to get pushed into the next week(s) or month(s). If you have felt that your pastor has not been paying as much attention to you recently or in the past, take a look at this list above and think about what your pastor might have been up to this past week. Give your minister the benefit of the doubt. S/he might actually be busy doing some of these things above. Cut your pastor some slack. A pastor is also a real person who also has family duties/responsibilities to spouse and children. Moreover, a healthy pastor/clergyperson must also have a life so one needs to make time to exercise regularly, eat right, and have a real social life too. If not, I would question if your pastor is living a healthy and balanced life and be able to endure the long-haul.