I admire those who serve in a full-time ministry role with a church. I did so for many years. In fact, I deeply respect these people.
Yet this ministry is a role that can be dangerous to one’s soul and integrity. The danger that I have in mind relates to time.
Most ministers I know work hard – very hard. They understand that their work is a calling, not a career. Consequently, they do the work of ministry without watching the clock or thinking about overtime.
Years ago, I interviewed with a fine church. Apparently this church had questioned the work ethic of one of its ministers. I asked the search committee what the minister said when confronted with this problem. They said that no one, including the elders, had ever talked with him about his behavior.
Instead they made rules to somehow control this and the other ministers’ behavior.
- Ministers must work at least a 40-hour week.
- Ministers may not go to the store between the hours of 8AM and 5PM.
- Ministers may not leave the church building between the same hours unless it is for tasks related to their job descriptions.
I then asked, “Why doesn’t someone just talk with the problem minister?”
They never did. Rather, they tried to exercise control instead of holding this person accountable.
Do ministers have a problem with time? Many do.
1. Some ministers are lazy and have figured out that it is possible to be on the staff of a congregation and basically do very little. After all, many ministers have virtually no accountability. They come and go as they please and don’t have to account for their time and, in some cases, their behavior. Some have learned that if they keep talking about how much in demand they are and how the church calls on them for everything, the elders will believe that they are working very hard. Such ministers may be more concerned with justifying their existence than working with others as a genuine team.
2. Some ministers work ridiculous hours. They say “yes” to most everything and have little, if any, balance in their lives. They work extremely hard and make remarks to their church about how they have no time to go to ball games, vacation, etc. Unfortunately, some churches perpetuate this behavior by speaking with pride about how many hours their minister works and how this person hasn’t taken a vacation in years. This minister may even pride himself on always being available to the church no matter what time of day. Meanwhile, this person’s wife seethes with resentment and teenage children no longer have an emotional connection with that parent.
There really is a way to be an effective minister and yet work with balance. One can work hard and yet find time to sleep, exercise, and have friends. In order for this to happen, however, a minister will need to be intentional.
Have you seen ministers abuse time? What impact did this have on the ministry of the church?