(Mis)Managing the Pastor Life

I know that everyone has been waiting on pins and needles for this. Seriously. Ever since my earth-shattering post yesterday that garnered a record-breaking 30 views (shattering the record from August 21st of last year by 30 views), I know that people are dying to know how I try to navigate my current season of life. But first, here’s a video that I love that has nothing to do with what I’m about to talk about:

Ok, back to the topic at hand.

All of this really does stem from God. I want to honor him and be a steward of where He has me. But I also know this: I’m not God. He doesn’t sleep or slumber. I do. He can be everywhere at all times at once. I can’t. He knows everything. I think I do.

So here are my answers to yesterday’s questions:

  • What are my current demands? Pastoral ministry (preaching, meeting, planning, preparing, counseling, and don’t forget emailing), the other things that work has me do that I don’t always anticipate, my family (and right now, it is a YOUNG family–three kids under four), friendships (maintaining them–both the ones here and the ones that are out of town/state/etc.), writing (things like this–not impressive, but still), my community group (which could be under ‘pastoral ministry’ but isn’t because I ask everyone to be in a group), and my health (yes, I am trying to work out and eat better).
  • What has to give for me to do what is most important? I, like most men, just jump to what I can control (and what I’m good at)–work–so what usually gives are family, friends, ministry family things, and health. Actually, health usually goes first for people. But for me, right now, what gives is work. That isn’t to say I only work 30 hours a week; but I know some people who put in 60-70 when they simply don’t have to. They just do it to keep up with what everyone else does. I’ve decided against that, and I know it will make people think I don’t work hard enough. I’m OK with that.
  • When is the next change coming? A short-term change is in five weeks, when Courtney should be completely recovered from her delivery, can lift all the kiddos again, and is in less pain and more mobile. The older two kids start preschool after Labor Day, and other than that, I usually re-evaluate after Christmas.

So here’s how all of that works itself out now that we are a family of five (thus, the new schedule for the new season):

  • The general flow: Sundays, I get to the building around 8:00, pray with the crew at 8:30, and am in Oaks mode until about 12:30. Try and grab lunch with someone from the church, and work on things until community group (at 4:00). Weekdays (M-Th) I try to start in the office by 7:30 and leave at about 4:10 to get a workout in. That way, I’m home right about the time the boys are up from their naps and can finish the day with them (before Abram was born, I was working out at 5:30 in the evening but was getting home too late).
  • Some Mornings: If something has to give, Courtney would rather it be a morning than an evening, so I try to accommodate that. I’ll schedule early breakfasts (though I try to schedule nothing before 6:00) and other meetings. In the fall, I’ll generally have two mornings a week that start that way and just tack them on to the day.
  • Some Evenings: You can’t escape evenings, but I do try to limit them significantly. This week wasn’t a good example of that, but I don’t try to have steady evening obligations (which I define as getting home after dinner time or near bed time–basically making me unable to help Courtney at all).
  • Email/Etc: I’m pretty available via email, text, etc. until about midnight most days. This is hard to quantify into hours; it’s just reality. But if I go out with the family I often “forget” my phone at home. Shucks.

You’ll notice that there is no magic solution. I change my rhythm sometimes monthly. What works now may not work in three months, and it’ll have to change again. But this is what works currently. It probably won’t work tomorrow, but it works today.

I’d encourage anyone reading to assess where they are in life, what needs to give, and how to live life where God has then now, not where He may have them later. And I’d encourage any and all husbands to ask their wives what would help them the most and come up with a plan together.

I'd love to hear your thoughts . . .