We pastors love to stay busy. It is not that we necessarily “love” being busy, but we tend to stay that way nonetheless. We take on more tasks, more meetings, more responsibilities, while rarely stopping the asking question, “Should I?”
Depending on the size of your church, you carry different responsibilities. However, regardless of the size of your church, there is a high likelihood that you (as I do) carry more responsibilities than you can effectively and efficiently do well.
Why Do We Do This?
One of the reasons we do this is that we tend to be people pleasers. Because we donʼt want to let people down, we say “yes” to meetings we shouldnʼt be at, counseling sessions that someone else could do, responsibilities that others could own, and countless other things. We want to make people happy, so we just keeping adding to our plate.
A second reason we do this is that we often feel the subconscious need to fight the perception that pastors are lazy. There are very few pastors I know who are lazy. Yet, most of us pastors do more than we should be doing, because we donʼt want to personally wear the label. If you went to your spouse and asked her, “Do you think Iʼm a lazy pastor?” most of you already know the look you are going to get—the one that says “youʼve got to be kidding me, you are always busy, and we would love more of your time” look—which should put that fear to rest.
A third reason, and a noble one, is the drive to see our church succeed. Many of us are busy because the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. We know there is much to be done to reach our cities, to build up disciples, and to advance the kingdom. However, we have to remember that the kingdom will go forward without us. We will be good to no one if we do not learn to quit taking on more than we can handle.
Learning to Say “No”
A word we pastors have to begin using, without guilt, is “no.” Take a second, wherever you are, and just say the word “no” right now. Go ahead. Ah, isnʼt that liberating. Guess what? You have permission to say that word. Now that you have permission to “say” you need to have the courage to.
The reason you need to use this word more often is because too many of us take on more responsibilities without ever considering whether or not we should. Yes, I know, there are lots of important things you are being asked to do, but you have to start learning to discern what is most vital for YOU to do.
If everything is most important, then nothing is most important.
You need to narrow down a handful of tasks that demand your leadership and energy and learn to say “no” to other good things. Saying “no” doesnʼt mean those things get neglected. You train and delegate others to the tasks. In fact, this likely should be one of your primary tasks you say “yes” to.
What You Are Doing Is Not Good
When Mosesʼ father in-law, Jethro, saw how overworked Moses was (Exodus 18) he pulled him aside and spoke to him. He had witnessed how Moses tended to every problem and issue the people faced. From morning to evening he was on-call. Of course, in our culture, many applaud this behavior. Many celebrate such tireless effort.
You know what Jethro told his son in-law? Moses, “what youʼre doing is not good.” (Ex. 18:17). He goes on in verse 18 to say, “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You canʼt do it alone.”
Pastor brothers, the same is true for us. What we are often found doing—staying too busy and wearing ourselves out—is not good. We can not do it alone. We should not do it alone. Start saying “no.” Begin to raise up, train, and delegate task to leaders. Pray God sends more labors for the harvest. And do not feel guilty. This is good.