Every person in ministry has heard the same (lame) joke, “It must be nice to be a pastor and work only one day per week!” It is a joke, and people know that pastors work during the week (right?). But there is an honest confusion, an honest question: “What do pastors do the other six days of the week?” I am going to take a few weeks to answer this question.
First, a quick statement. EVERY job is a little misunderstood (what do YOU do all day at your job!?). I don’t want to act like pastors are the only ones who get asked awkward questions. Every job has parts that people don’t see, and people often assume that if they can’t see you then you must not be working. I also don’t claim to speak for all pastors; I am just sharing what I do on the other 6 days of the week.
Here is a basic outline of my week:
- Sunday – worship services (7:30am-1:00pm), meetings (most weeks), prep for staff meeting, some study, home by 6:00pm
- Monday – workout, to the office (9:30am), this is my Admin and Planning day – blog, announcements, attendance, promotion, events, finances, who needs to be called. I also have a regular 1-on-1 meeting this day. Home by 6:00 or 7:00pm.
- Tuesday – sermon prep (1 hr), Meeting day – Staff meetings and 1-on-1 with staff (9:30am-2:00pm), after these 4 meetings I will usually do some reading or office work, home by 4:00 or 5:00pm, Life Group at 7:00pm.
- Wednesday – workout, Staff prayer and worship (9:30am), Sermon Prep day – I spend a lot of time on the sermon this day – until about 4:00pm. This includes study, outline, PowerPoint, and bulletin notes. I try to get home by 5:00pm to have dinner before my kids are out for evening church meetings.
- Thursday – workout, study (usually 1-2 hours), meetings with other pastors (every other Thursday) – Covenant pastors, my mentor, or Modesto pastors. In the later afternoon I often have meetings with people from church or work on projects. Home by 5:00 or 6:00pm, then back to church at 7:00 to do pastoral phone calling.
- Friday – workout or hiking, silence (1 hour), sermon delivery practice (2 hours), projects or study or meetings or catching up on what was missed. My goal is to be home by 3:00pm but it is usually 5:00pm. Date night with Hannah.
- Saturday – day off. Yard and house work. Time with kids. In the Fall – college football!
That is my basic schedule. I usually work 50-60 hours per week (I try for the low 50’s but don’t always get that) and have a little more than one day off (although I usually get calls and texts on my day off). I also answer about 20-30 emails per day and get 7-10 phone calls per day – some which require significant time to talk. I have about 8-10 meetings every week. And I get texts all day long – starting as early as 5:30am and going as late as 11:30pm.
I can’t end without adding in one more important element – the unexpected. Pastoral work is not a set schedule. I LOVE working with people – it is the best (and hardest) part of the work. But it also means that above schedule is never exactly what happens. People considering divorce, depression and suicide calls, domestic abuse, job promotions, death in the family, questions about God – all of these are a part of my week, every week. These things are unexpected and incredibly draining (which is why you might see me depleted and down at times). But these things also open up the most amazing moments of my job as a pastor, when I get to see the hope of God shine through like a light in the darkness.
I will share more next week. Feel free to share your thoughts, too.