There has been a lot of adjusting going on in our house since moving to Texas in July of last year. It feels a bit funny to say that but it is true. Though I am living close to where I grew up (an irony not lost on me because it was never on my bucket list to live near home), there have been a lot of changes that have come along the way. One of the biggest ones for me—specifically in regard to how I pursue pastoral ministry—is regarding time.
In my previous role I had an office, the church had a good amount of staff (which meant meetings), the job was located close to where a number of people form the church worked, and I had history there as a college student and an intern. A lot of time obligations where given to me (all-staff meeting here, lead team meeting here, staff huddle here, sermon prep meeting here, service pep meeting here). You can build your day around chunks of time. At Genesis—not so much. I am one of two staff, office space is really just a room with a table in it, and lot of folks work 30-45 minutes away from where they live. It’s a different dynamic that has caused me to have to adjust in at least a few ways.
Where I Spend My Time
Without an office for the 20-something boxes of books that I packed, up, I’ve had to spend my time in a couple of places. All the books are now at home—they take up shelves and cabinets and boxes here at the house. It is weird, though to say, “I’m going to work” only to then walk eight feet into the office that is off of your bedroom. Feels like cheating. I don’t spend a ton of time working from home but I’ve done it a little more.
Another spot that you’ll find me is at Lanier Theological Library. Basically, there’s this super successful lawyer in town who is also a theology and Bible buff. This library is straight out of the UK—and it is on his personal property. You have to get buzzed in and sign up, but it is free for anyone to use. If you are doing any type of academic study, this is an amazing spot. He also hosts lectures here every month or two and brings in scholars from all over the world. I don’t spend as much time at Lanier as I’d like, in part because the drive (and tolls on the way), but it is an amazing place.
The spot you’ll most likely find me is at Starbucks. I spend a lot of time here, and more money than necessary. A tall cup of coffee is $2.11. I usually get it in a mug. Everyone at that place knows me (well, the morning shift). I see folks from the church, folks from the gym, and folks from the boys’ school come in and out. I’m basically furniture there.
Based on my meetings for the day, I have to kind of may out where I’ll be and when, and that’ll include on what I spend my time.
How I Spend My Time
Without those standard meeting times that I’m used to, I have to create what I will work on and when. This has been a big change for me. When you have a meeting at 9am and then a lunch meeting at 11:30, your morning is kid of planned out—all that changes is how you spend the seams. When you have no standing meetings between 8am and 8pm, then you have to become more disciplined. I haven’t always succeed in this arena, but things have gotten better.
My best bet has been to give chunks of time a theme and to create fake deadlines in order to get things done. Sunday is always a deadline, but we have an awesome volunteer who helps create kids curriculum based off of the sermon, so I produce outlines early for her. I try to stay 3-4 Sundays ahead. That way even if I feel behind I’m actually not up against the deadline. Different days have different themes (this has evolved even since starting at Genesis) and different goals that I rarely hit, but it keeps the ball moving down the field.
With Whom I Spend My Time
I’d say the biggest change is the people with whom I spend my time. I’m still a newbie and I am learning the people and the place. I had friends in Baton Rouge who were my go-to lunch friends (I’m thinking of you, Craig), but I don’t have that here. I scheduled one lunch a month in advance simply because that is when schedules aligned.
I don’t have an official way to categorize the people I spend time with, but I’ll make an arbitrary categorization right now: members, leaders, and pastors. I review our member list at least weekly. It isn’t huge (currently about 62, and there’s a specific reason I say “about), but it keeps the flock before me. It also reminds me of people I need to reach out to and potentially meet up with. A subset of those members are our leaders—which, in a church with 62 members, is basically everyone. Community group leaders, our d-group leaders and members (discipleship groups we are piloting here), deacons, and others—I try and be sure that I see these folks and get time with them. And then there are our pastors (or elders, we use that term interchangeably). We meet weekly right now, which means that I get a bout two hours a week to talk with these folks about our own lives and what is going on at the church. I’m sure there are other ways that I could categorize these people and meetings, but those categories work for now. 🙂
There are many other adjustments we’ve made, but I wanted to start with one that zeroed in on pastoral life. I’d hope to write about others soon. And, of course, if you have other ideas you’d like me to write about, please let me know. Just comment below.