This is the question I have been asking myself lately. Our youth pastor was called to be the Sr. Pastor of a church in North Carolina, leaving a big hole to fill in our church staff. During the first couple of weeks much of the leadership landed in my lap, which I have enjoyed! But, with all of my regular responsibilities, the building process, a youth pastor search process, the youth ministry, and my PhD work my plate is full.
I discovered during this season that when I get busy, I try and get everything done so I can focus on my family and relax. It’s possible that you are his way too. It is not good for you to need everything completed before you can rest. I know this from personal experience. If your weeks are like mine, and I assume they are, then the to do list is often longer on Friday than it was on Monday. I have found that to stay spiritually healthy, and to lead your family well, you have to set some boundaries in your ministry.
1. Set a start time to the work day.
Many pastors wake up working. I know I have a tendency to try and get into my work day as soon as possible. If that works for you, then talk about it with your family and make that the plan. If you work with others in your ministry communicate to them when your work day starts. If you are the leader, make sure you also communicate the expectations for their position, especially if you are starting your day at 5! Good leaders communicate expectations, and the youth guy needs to know you don’t expect him to start his day at 5.
2. Set an end time to the work day.
Each day has to end. So set a time that you stop each day to be home. Then leave it at work, and know that you will pick back up where you left off the next day. You have to trust God with this. Each day should have its priorities, and your schedule for the day should reflect those priorities. Take the last 30 minutes of your day to plan the next day’s schedule. Leave margin and room for interruptions and other people, but have an end to the day.
3. Love your family as a rule, and when there are exceptions to the plan- they will be supportive.
Many pastors won’t make a plan and have a schedule because of the potential for an emergency or crisis. Those situations will happen, but you and your family need the schedule. Your family is in ministry with you in so many ways. They support you doing what God has called you to do. If a crisis happens, your family will understand that you need to respond. But, your family will not understand 10 years from now why Dad and husband was always working. Make a plan, stick to the plan, and when there is a real need that interrupts the plan your family will understand.
I am not perfect at this, I am a workaholic who justifies the effort because of the results. If this is you, I reccomend reading Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash. It’s a great book that goes in depth on how to be zealous to do good works without flaming out of ministry and neglecting your family or your own soul.