Ministry Inside.140

broken-clockSome ministers abuse time.

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.  

Questions

Have you seen ministers abuse time?  What impact did this have on the ministry of the church?

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.140

  1. And in some instances, churches are led by elders with little sense of what the pastor’s day consists of and so they think their role should be tailored like a corporate job. You can in at 8, work in the office, take a lunch and then leave at 5:00, all the while being available if and when one of the elders should call during the day. But realistically, even in the business world, there is much more flexibility than there used to to be. Businesses are much more lenient about flexible work schedules and many have transitioned away from desktop computers allowing their associates to be more mobile with laptops. The business world is much more responsive to the 24/7 world we live in. But some elders remain behind the 8-ball, idolizing the old corporate model and insisting the pastors adhere to it, when in fact, they are not running a business but a ministry. Some of what they do requires they be out in the community doing visitation, networking with other pastors and churches and meeting with business leaders, etc. So sometimes, the problem isn’t always with the minister, but with church leaders and parishioners with unrealistic expectations. One suggestion would be for some of these individuals to shadown their pastor for a day to see what their day is really comprised of. That would at least show more interest than creating rules to curb a perceived problem.

    • Pat, you make a great point here. Some elders have no idea what a minister does all day. I like your idea of shadowing a minister.

      I think much of this (as you have already indicated) comes down to expectations. Sometimes elders within a group with have different expectations themselves. So many of the really important moments in congregational ministry happen outside the church office and away from the church building. To tether a minister to the building is a huge mistake and will sorely limit that person’s effectiveness.

      Thanks Pat!

  2. Dear Brother in the Gospel of God in Christ: Welcome to HST and Bluff City USA! I met you with Dr. Jack recently at the
    Pie Auction. What fun! I just read your articles in A Place
    for the God-Hungry. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Eva and
    I have been married for 42 years. I just turned 69 and we have 4 sons who with their precious wives love Jesus and HIS
    church. God has given us 9 grandchildren. See you March 22. JT