Every career choice will have its benefits, and its hardships. And though some careers are more stressful than others, every person will face stress at their jobs.
From time to time, I reflect on my choice of being in full time ministry, its benefits and its struggles. When asked what is the toughest part of being a pastor, by far, it is learning to balance time and energy between these 4 vital components of a pastor’s role:
- Sermon prep time
- Team Building
- Meeting with members & new comers (pastoral care, counseling, relationship building)
Of course, these 4 components don’t include time with spouse, time with kids, time in prayer and personal devotions. But when it comes to ministry hours, dedicated time to all 4 of these areas is crucial; otherwise the church will be negatively impacted.
Here’s a couple of thoughts on all 4 of these components:
1. Sermon Prep Time
Research indicates that the quality of the pastor’s message is by far the #1 factor why people choose a church home. The Pastor’s message in many ways sets the vision, culture and direction of the church. The Pastor’s message will also impact the member’s involvement in midweek small groups, prayer, accountability, willingness to serve in a ministry, etc. If the message was ill prepared, the church will be impacted. And preparation doesn’t just include study time, but also heart and prayer preparation! A pastor cant afford to disregard sermon prep time.
2. Team Building
It is impossible & unwise to do ministry alone. The task of the pastor is not to do ministry, but to train others to do the work of the ministry. Therefore, a pastor needs to spend more time training, encouraging and building a team, than actually doing the “ministry.” A healthy & growing church is a church where discipleship takes place, and leaders are raised. If we look at the life of Jesus, He dedicated a lot of time to be with His disciples, teaching, equipping and releasing them, then correcting and encouraging them. Jesus could have spent that time healing the sick and raising the dead, yet, the movement He started would have quickly faded if it weren’t for the work & ministry of the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection.
A lot of the “team building” involves developing small group leaders & ministry leaders, which is absolutely vital for continued church growth and health.
3. Meeting with members, new comers, counseling, etc.
The people we are trying to reach in the community are not looking for a “show” to attend. They want to connect, build relationships, be known, and be loved.
A pastor must dedicate time to spend with the members & their families, otherwise he will not know the difficulties, struggles and issues that the people in attendance are going through. Though hospital visits, funerals, weddings, and other significant events can be dedicated to other leaders in the church, a pastor never present at those life moments will also have adverse affects.
In today’s church culture, the pastor will be the first person members and attendees will turn to for prayer & spiritual advice. In a healthy environment, the pastor will be able to connect the members or person in need with a small group leader or a competent counselor in the area of need. A pastor’s role is often similar to standing at a fork in the road, and pointing God’s people & the community to different resources, small groups, books and available support groups.
4. Administration, facilities, finances: the CEO
Whether or not we agree, the pastor is also the CEO of the non-profit corporation, registered in the state of the church’s location. Though a wise pastor will bring in wiser and more competent people into the team to help with budgeting, finances, facilities, paperwork, laws, insurance, & administration, the pastor is still the
“steering” voice on many of those decisions. If done properly, the administration, facilities and finances will serve to bless and enable other ministries of the church. But if neglected, will serve as a big break & stumbling block for everyone involved.
No matter how much a pastor wants to stay in God’s word and study, he will need to be involved weekly in many aspects of the church administrative decisions. And issues, emergencies, changes come up all the time!
In other words, can I ask you to pray for your pastor? Yes, everyone needs prayer, and everyone has things to juggle in their careers & work places. But a healthy pastor who’s able to balance these 4 components in a healthy way, will be a blessing to every family in the church and to the community!