Most pastors I talk to are aspiring for some sanity in their schedules. Today I will share my typical work-day ministry schedule, which you will want to customize according to your particular life-stage and ministry.
- Wake Up Worshiping. I don’t think it really matters what time of day you walk with God, as long as you are doing it consistently. My personal preference is first thing in the morning because I cannot recover those first thoughts. Morning worship also supports my desire to make loving God my “first/greatest (protos)” priority of the day (e.g. the Great Commandment).
- Mornings Are for Preparation. I map out my day first thing by identifying the tasks or meetings which are most important. I will write them down on my devices (with alerts), as well as on a nagging yellow post-it note. Most pastors are easily distracted, and I am no exception. According to Inc. Magazine, workers have been found to be more proactive and productive in the mornings. There will never be a time in my day when I have more energy and fewer distractions, so I do most of my studying and writing before 11:00 a.m.
- Afternoons Are for Connecting. Once you have devoted yourself “to prayer and to the preaching ministry” (Acts 6:4), you are ready to start connecting with your sheep and staff (or in my case, shepherds). My awesome admin schedules meetings for about 45 minutes of length and buffers 45 minutes between my meetings for calls, emails, and social media interaction. All of these communication tools are important if you want to shepherd effectively across more than one generation.
- Exercise Before Dinner. My afternoon workouts help me to both relax and recharge for the evening. Since I am usually spent by the end of a ten hour workday, I find it more fulfilling to crank out a few reps in the gym or miles on the road, than to crash in a chair. I generally do strength training and cardio twice a week each. Consistent exercise will help reduce your stress and weight, as well as increase your energy which leads to a better quality and (sometimes) quantity of life.
- Evenings Are for Family. My goal is to stop working completely by dinner. I cannot fully connect with my family until I have disconnected from my ministry. Neither can you. Pastors and ministry leaders struggle with turning ministry off on evenings and weekends, which is actually counterproductive. The health of your family and your ministry is connected to your own health, and evenings are a great time to recharge.
- Nights Are for Sleeping. There are many theories floating around about how much sleep you need, but I personally don’t put much stock in sources without credentials. The AMA, NIH, and CDC all say we typically need about 8 hours of sleep to feel and function normally while awake. In my experience, I do better work and am in a better mood when I am fully rested.
- Stay Flexible and Submissive. This schedule has helped me enjoy a sane and sustainable life and ministry for almost three decades, but it rarely plays out exactly as planned because of the many sovereign surprises that God has for us. Typically, my work week as a pastor has been Sunday through Thursday, but adjustments were inevitable and flexibility was my friend.
Your schedule will reflect your priorities, so after you make a plan, stay in the faith zone because at the end of it, you are still a slave and soldier under orders.