The work of pastoral ministry is a joy, but it’s also demanding. Every pastor is on call 24/7. Expectations of members are high and sometimes unreasonable.
Pastors are thus expected to “run the race” constantly. But how can a pastor keep the pace in this marathon of ministry without burning out? How can a pastor remain productive with such demands? Allow me to offer ten tips to becoming a more productive pastor.
- Be spiritually disciplined. Pastor, you cannot lead God’s people spiritually if you are spiritually depleted. Find a time to pray and to read God’s Word every day. Don’t let it become an afterthought. Pick a time of day and stick with it. For some of you, it’s first thing in the morning. For me, it’s the quiet of late evening.
- Pray for the day ahead. There is obvious overlap between the first two, but I want to remind pastors to pray about three specific things before you begin the day. First, pray for God’s wisdom for all the conversations and situations you will be facing. Second, pray for His grace. You will hear from critics and high maintenance people. It’s not always easy to be gracious to some. Third, pray for opportunities to show and share the love of Christ during the day. I am always amazed how He answers that prayer in my life.
- Be physically disciplined. As you set aside a time of the day for spiritual discipline, also set aside a time of day for physical discipline. You may think you don’t have time to do both. You can’t afford to neglect either. I love the advantages of technology. My iPad, headphones, and treadmill are daily companions.
- Make appointments for sermon preparation. How long does it take you to prepare a sermon? Take that time plus one hour and put it on your calendar each week. Don’t try to do sermon preparation in the margins of your life; it’s too important to minimize. You may not always get to keep those appointments, but you have a better chance if they are on your calendar.
- Determine one to three priorities you will accomplish for the day. If possible, don’t take on any other tasks until those items are completed.
- Get sufficient sleep. Hard workers often like to brag about how much they work and how little sleep they get. If their lack of sleep is a reality, they are becoming less productive and more unhealthy. Sleep is not a luxury; it is a gift of rest and recovery given directly from God.
- Make appointments on your calendar for strategic vision. Perhaps once a month, set aside a day to get away by yourself, pray, seek God’s face, and dream about the future of the church. Take notes that day, either electronically or on paper.
- Laugh and have fun. Sometimes I have a bad attitude about my work and ministry and say I have to do something. My attitude should be that, by the grace of God, I get to do His work. We who are in vocational ministry often need to lighten up and laugh more. Not all ministry could be described as “fun,” but much of it is if we have the right attitude.
- Have a right attitude. Speaking of attitudes, productive pastors rejoice more. They learn greater gratitude. They see setbacks as temporary and opportunities as never ending. They see themselves as co-laborers with God Himself.
- Work hard; rest intentionally. There are a few pastors who need to improve their work ethics. Are you truly laboring for God? But there are more pastors who need to rest and relax more. You are not omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.
Thanks for letting me share these ten tips with you.
What would you add to my list?