Working Hard or Hardly Working?

One of the things I’ve learned in my past 16 months of working as a pastor is that there are a lot of things that can come up in a week! From funerals to small groups to weddings to church work days to a movie night at church, it seems there’s no shortage of events you can attend. As a pastor it can be difficult to know how much work is too much. One of the things I’ve heard is that a pastor should work around the same amount of time as the average person in their congregation. As some push back to that is this blog, ‘How Many Hours Should Pastors Work?‘ Early in the article he says,

Here’s the truth in the advice: pastors should work hard. The pastorate is a place where lazy people can hide. I’ve met some lazy pastors, and they do need a kick in the posterior. And yes, we shouldn’t expect more of others than we ourselves are ready to give. And for some, they will be able to work 50-65 hours and still live healthily. Imposing this advice across the board, however, is less than helpful.

Just so you’re aware, he doesn’t give a solid number. In my experience, a typical week in a church is going to be more than 40 hours, but rarely go over 50. One of the things I try very hard to do is to guard my day off. Right now my day off is Tuesday and I try to keep that day to myself both to get some things done around the house and just spend some time relaxing reading and thinking. I’ve found this to be very helpful to my life as a whole, spiritually emotionally and physically. Removing myself from my regular duties has been necessary for me in my regular life. I encourage those of you who are pastors to do the same.

Praying for Your Church

One of the things I’ve learned in my past year of ministry is that it’s not very much a job in the typical sense of the word. My last job I worked from 7 until 4 and then left my job there and tried not to think about it until the next day when I would begin work again. Now when I go home I’m generally thinking about issues related to church, reading books about church or spending time with people from church. This bothered me at first-even my personal times of prayer were dominated by praying for the church. God has recently been revealing to me that this should be the pattern for everyone in the church. We all should be praying for the church.

Many of Paul’s letters have this theme in them, “without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers,” Romans 1:9-10, “I give thanks to my God always for you,” 1 Corinthians 1:4, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,” Ephesians 1:16, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,” Philippians 1:3-4, “we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,” Colossians 1:3, “we give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,” 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” 1 Timothy 2:1, “I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day,” 2 Timothy 1:3, and finally, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers” Philemon 4. Reading trough this list I think it’s safe to say that Paul both modeled and encouraged prayer among the disciples for the body.

How can we pray for the body around us? The most obvious answer to that is to pray that God will keep us from sin. The world is constantly bombarding us with temptations to give in to sin (2 Corinthians 13:7, Hebrews 13:18). The second thing we can pray for the body is for physical healing (James 5:14). A third thing we can pray for in the body to grow in the wisdom and understanding of God, which means maturity (Colossians 1:9). One thing I don’t always see people understanding is that this also needs to be prayed for pastors and leaders in the church.

Paul repeatedly asks for prayer for where God is leading him (2 Thessalonians 3:1, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1). And the most explicit example is in 1 Timothy 2 where Paul writes, “I urge that supplications prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way,” (italics mine). Pray for the pastors, elders and deacons who are in your church that we may faithfully lead the people that God has entrusted to us. May all of us remember to pray for our churches that God’s name may be made great and He would get all the glory.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

Romans 8:26