This week on the podcast, we talked with Dave Jacobs who has dedicated his life to coaching pastors, and especially pastors of 200churches. If you haven't listened yet, quit reading this right now and listen. Seriously.
Have you listened yet? Good. How awesome was that?! Dave gets right to the heart of the issue and with so much compassion and understanding, tells us what we already know: being a pastor is tough. It's tough emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Because of the difficult nature of the job, it's important that pastors take care of themselves. Not just for their own sake, but also for the sake of their families, congregations, and communities. We pastors need to be healthy.
One of the craziest moments on the podcast came when Dave suggested that pastors schedule themselves around 35 hour work weeks. Say what?! His reasoning makes sense though: we already know that as pastors, we'll have at least 5 hours of unscheduled time come up here and there throughout the week. That's the nature of being "on-call" and, for many pastors, that's the part of the job that we enjoy the most.
Because of that unscheduled time, Dave encourages all the pastors he coaches to schedule themselves 35 hours in a week. Why? Because being a pastor can really take it out of you! We take "work" home with us, send emails on the go, talk to our spouses about the latest goings on at the church, and generally carry the spiritual burden of the church 24/7. If we're not careful, we can start to work 50, 60, or even 70+ hours a week! That's bad for our health and definitely bad for the health of those around us.
This is something that we at 200churches have to work on too, and begin to practice what we preach. Our schedules can get away from us and soon we can't even separate "ministry" time from "free" time. But even in our own weakness, we've found some practices that help:
1. Set a routine and refuse to break it! - Maybe your routine is to head to the office at 7 AM and leave no later than 4. Maybe it's insisting that you won't be out of the house more than two nights a week. Maybe it's that you take every Friday off. We're all different and our schedules and routines will look different. The goal isn't to fit yourself into a pre-made schedule box, but rather to refuse to jump out of the box you've created for yourself.
2. Limit the hours you work every week - Maybe this means you turn off your iPhone when you get home at night. Or maybe it means going in later to work if you know you're going to be there late. Dave talked about the 35 hour week and we think you should take that advice to heart. Quit working so many hours. The ministry will be there when you get back.
3. Ask your spouse/kids what they think your schedule should be - Is this a scary thought? If you're worried about what your spouse or kids might tell you, you're probably already working too hard. Dave listed off the priorities of a pastor like this: 1. God 2. Spouse 3. Kids 4. Ministry. What does your list look like? If you're not sure, ask your family, they'll know. While this list can't be lived literally, the priorities of life should be reflected in that order.
Once you've developed a healthy schedule, you can actually start to schedule yourself some health. Take a monthly retreat. Seriously, do it. As small church pastors and leaders, we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and our relationship with Christ. A better work schedule should lead to a better sleep schedule. A better meal schedule. A better exercise schedule. We're not telling you to become health nuts, but we are encouraging you to at least be healthy leaders.
So what did you think of the podcast this week? Were you inspired to call Dave and get some coaching for yourself? Lets us know what you think in the comments. We always love to hear from you!
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