Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why do Pastors Work Only One Day a Week?

This is a typical assumption of ministers, but is very far from the truth. Serving as the pastor of a church requires more than one day a week, and is one of the most exhausting and time consuming jobs you could imagine. The average pastor actually works more than 40 hours a week.

Because of the nature of his job, a pastor cannot escape his responsibilities when he leaves the office. He is on duty around the clock, and often receives calls at home from dawn to dusk, even in the middle of the night. Most of his home activities and social relationships are church related. If he is fortunate enough to get a day off during the week, it will rarely be a day of leisure. It’s usually the only time a pastor can have some undistracted time to catch up on ministry related things.

To prepare a fresh new sermon from scratch, a pastor must pray and receive God’s direction, research scriptures, consult commentaries for clarity, find interesting illustrations, and pray for God’s anointing on the finished product. For me personally, it takes 2 full days (sometimes 3) to prepare one thirty minute sermon. But the demands on a pastors time are so great, that rarely can he devote the required amount of time to sermon preparation.

Each week there are many people who want to counsel with their pastor or speak to him by phone. It’s not uncommon for me to have several calls a day come in, and if I take each call and spend a mere 12-15 minutes with each caller (most phone conversations are longer), this could easly come to 2 hours per day, (which 12 hours per week), just on the phone. I also meet people each week – either in my office or after the morning services – for spiritual advice or guidance. Each meeting takes about 30 minutes to an hour, adding another 3-4 hours to the work week.

So far this comes to 40 hours per week. But the work is not done, so let’s continue.

Then there is the time required to conduct the business aspects of the church. I easily spend 3 hours a day involved administrative decisions of our church, reviewing expenditures and other paperwork, dictating or writing letters, analyzing attendance and giving trends, directing our church staff, reviewing schedules, problem solving, strategic planning, setting goals, and planning the quarterly calendar. Besides this, it takes me about 12 hours a month to write my portion of the weekly bulletin and other publications.

Then there are hospital calls to make or other visitations during the week. Calculating the drive time involved to-and-from the visit, this eats up a half day (4 hours).

Then there are a variety of meetings to attend or lead, (such as staff meetings, department meetings, or planning meetings). Not to mention the periodic weddings, funerals, and other social functions that the pastor is expected to attend.

If you don’t have a calculator handy, all of this comes to 65-68 hours per week. Needless to say, pastors work more than one day a week. BTW, Sunday is a work day for pastors - not a day of rest.

I was in a crowded room one time when a wise guy thought he’d make a joke. He said in a loud voice, “Ronnie can do it. He’s got the time. Everybody already knows that preachers only work one day a week.” After the laughter died down and everyone was looking at me, I replied to man, “It's apparent that you don't know what you are talking about, so I will excuse you for your ignorance.” He has never said it again.

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