Working one day a week
Yuk! Yuk! It must be nice to only have to work one day a week.
Some of our younger colleagues may not have been exposed to this particular jab at the minister cohort. But, years ago when I left the financial world to pursue this calling it was the joke of the day among my business friends. Underneath the snickers was often a genuine sneer. People out there in the real world generally thought ministers were a lazy bunch working one day a week. It was less of a joke that the reality of ministerial stereotypes back then. Maybe now.
The reality is much different. Research at ThomRainer.com indicates that pastors are expected to work approximately 114 hours per week. This was a survey the Rainer people did with twelve deacons regarding their expectations of pastors. It wasn't a scientific statistical survey but did reveal the more unrealistic backstory behind why so many pastors and staff ministers were so frustrated in their role as congregational spiritual leaders. You can review Thom Rainer's blog about it by clicking here. it's an interesting study and one of the reasons I'm posting about the kick back most leaders should take regularly, especially as the summer months are approaching. There are seven---notice the number seven---reasons leaders need to step away on a regular basis:
Spiritual leaders must be in a personal discipleship process themselves. Stepping
away from the rigors of leadership for refreshment, spiritual restoration, and
physical rest are indications of following in the steps of Jesus. John wrote it
clearly: "whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he
walked" (1 John 2:6, ESV). Remember when the storm rocked the boat with Jesus
and his disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was sleeping, at rest in the storm.
The first responsibility in our concentric circles of influence is our family. Elders
and deacons and spiritual leaders are expected to led their house holds in a Christ
like manner. Taking moments of rest and refreshment are examples leaders
should give to their families.
Paul advised Timothy to be an example to the people entrusted to his care: "set
the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity"
(1 Timothy 4:12, ESV). Leaders have a lot of eyes on them and should provide an
example of spiritual , emotional, and physical wellness.
Christian faith is not accessed through a system of works. Paul wrote, "For by
grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the
gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9,
ESV). Our lives should be a reflection of our dependence on him for salvation,
and not our workaholic habits.
Paul reminded the Corinthians of something that spiritual leaders often forget:
we don't have capes and bodies of steel. He wrote, "But we have this treasure in
jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us"
(2 Corinthians 4:7, ESV). This human body needs some care, like rest, relaxation,
restoration, and refreshment. Humans are fragile and fallible. Leaders need this
God has chosen these jars of clay to accomplish his redemptive purpose. He
produces spiritual fruit in humans so we can effectively function in this world.
One of the spiritual fruits is self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23). Being his disciple
and his leader in making disciples involves demonstrating self-control over the
human impulses that seek mastery of us. Learning to step away regularly is an
example of self-control.
Sabbath isn't a day of the week as much as a concept for life. Spiritual leaders
must teach the ideal of Sabbath but must first of all experience it as a regular life
process. The writer of Hebrews instructed his readers, "So then, there remains a
Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also
rested from his works as God did from his" (Hebrews 4:9-10, ESV). Sabbath rest is
an important element in a functioning disciples life.
You probably noticed my little word gimmick in the seven reasons leaders need to kick back regularly. They are M, T, W, T, F, S, S---the days of the week. Kicking back represents the rest and refreshment that spiritual leaders must experience to remain effective leaders. Without it, they'll be burnouts in a world that needs a fresh word from God and leaders who exemplify it.
Hey, kick back regularly and just chill. Remember what Mark wrote---And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat (Mark 6:31, ESV).