This week’s blog focus will be on time. Time is the great equalizer – rich or poor, strong or weak, we all have only 24 hours in a day. My purpose isn’t how to maximize your efficiency or effectiveness, though they are lovely by-products. My purpose, rather, is to explore and examine how we can best steward our time resources to best promote health and longevity in ministry. Remember our idiom, Healthy = Happy.
I like to break up my day (mentally) into thirds – 1/3 sleep, 1/3 work, 1/3 re-creation. I will briefly summarize below.
Sleep – I think all American’s, but especially pastors, are notoriously lacking in sleep. Below is a summarized list from webmd about loss of sleep: it causes accidents (who has ever regretted that late night email?), it inhibits thinking and learning (not good for teachers), it leads to serious health problems (heart disease, diabetes, stroke), it kills sex drive (bad news for married ministers), it can cause depression (which many of us already have) and weight gain. Eight hours a night is minimum in my opinion – I have found I am better rested, healthier and happier with 9 to 10.
Work – Yes, “work” should only take up a third of your day. Work is in quotes because most ministers don’t consider what they do “work”. An email or phone call here or there adds up and needs to be seen as what it is – caring for your people. I’m not saying you need regular business hours, but you do need to establish set times for work. When those hours are over, I recommend “unplugging” – no phones, smart phones, ipads or laptops. It you need the time, buy a watch. If you need to write a message, use a journal. Email is a life-sucking abyss and nothing that goes on at your church is really that important – it can wait. Remember that time when you forgot your phone or your laptop died and you didn’t have a charger? The church kept trucking along just fine – your people know you are busy, they will cut you some slack.
Re-Creation – What do you need to literally re-create yourself? I include meals, exercise, family and fun in this category. It also includes personal time such as getting ready, reading books or just sitting and being quiet. I don’t personally watch television, but if you do, this would be the place to fit it in. I consider two things to be absolutely vital to health, happiness and longevity in ministry – prayer and recreation and pastors rarely do either! A recent study I saw indicated that pastors only pray about 5 minutes a day – no wonder we are so burnt out! How can we have anything of value to offer our people if we aren’t connected in a vital way to our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, Teacher and Guide? I include prayer as part of my work hours (see the apostles’ job description in Acts 6:4).
Obviously, each day has its own flow and some days are more work or recreation heavy than others. We will cover a weekly approach to looking at time in our next entry. Until then, how do you use your time? Do you have a similar model or something different altogether?