Monday, February 22, 2010
My friend pastor Joe Gnatek up in New Hampshire has been taking some ribbing lately about the number of hours he (and all) pastors work. It seems the "works one day a week" label is attempting to be applied and Joe is fighting back by producing shirts with 24/1 embroidered on them. I've got to applaud Joe's sense of humor about it.
Having spent far more years in the everyday ordinary world of work than I have in what many call "full time ministry" maybe I can help. During my years in the private sector I did everything from digging ditches to running a national sales organization. The hours I put in, and where I put them, varied widely from company to company and position to position. To use the extremes for example, when it hit 5 o'clock in my construction job, I left and never looked back or spent one moment of time thinking about it unless the weather appeared likely to keep me from working the next day (in which case I didn't get paid). In my job as national sales manager for a small tech firm, it was expected that I would work whatever amount of time it took not just to get my work done, but preparing the sales force to get their work done. So there were times when I went to work on Sunday afternoon to fix a database problem or spent time at home working on a new initiative or strategy.
In my current position as pastor of a smaller church, the number hours vary depending on the people's needs and the work needed to get done, but they seldom drop below what I worked as a sales manager. Not only that, but because of the interpersonal nature of the job, off and on during the day - any day - any time - I'll find myself thinking about this person or that family, and praying for them or touching base. Then there's the herding cats part of the job, where someone is at odds with someone else, or a volunteer is discouraged and I'm needed to come in and help them find peace. Go out to eat with friends and many times you wind up talking about the church and what's going on. Given that we LOVE New Hope, that's not a big deal, but there are times when you just want to relax and enjoy each others company.
It can consume you, frankly.
Oh and not just you, but your wife and your family. The mood at the pastor's house can literally rise or fall depending on what happened on Sunday. As pastor, you put your heart into the vision God has given the Church and you can have difficulty stepping out of that bubble and being the guy your wife married.
So 24/1? Let's put it this way.
Jack Bauer wouldn't last a year as a small church pastor. :)