Working One Hour a Week (Part One)

I’ve been asked before, What is it you DO during the week, anyhow?

Pastors struggle with boundaries between working and not-working–I have met very few clergy who are willing to turn off their phones for a day, to not check church e-mail at least daily, who are always (even if low-key) planning and preparing. I am no exception to this rule, but I work very, very hard at becoming an exception.

That being said, in the time of Corona, there is far more blending in my life between what is church work/ministry, and what is time away. I have had to limit my use of Zoom, because it is draining and Zoom Fatigue is real. I have been intentional in setting one night a week–usually Tuesday–aside in order to not drown in meetings (and to have intentional dinner with B). And I’m loathe to answer texts, emails or calls on Fridays, though, I do, I do.

But that’s not the question asked in the beginning. What is it a minister DOES during the week, anyhow? (And I do not speak for all ministers, and I recognize plenty of ministry is not congregational, and plenty of ministry is not in solo pastorates. This is what I does, during the week, I guess.)

First and foremost: I serve as theologian in residence. At least, on my best days. I spend a lot of time praying, studying, preparing curriculum and crafting sermons. I’d say it is at least half my job, and it looks kind of easy, I guess. I research, I read commentaries, I take notes, I spend four hours trying to perfect a paragraph.

Do I count the time when I sit on the bench in my kitchen at three a.m., wondering if we could do 1 Corinthians in forty sermons? When on a Saturday I stop for three hours and re-write another draft because the Spirit so moves (and just refuses to operate only during office hours)? What to do with afternoons where I know I have to just stop and listen and breathe because I’m forcing a sermon and thus it’s a speech, a lesson, a presentation?

I get low on myself about writing–I’ve been wrestling with the fact that I’m just not going to have time, energy or the wherewithal to write fiction or plays like I used to–but I do write, every week. Thousands of words, researched and refined (on my best days). But that’s not all–but there are other posts, surely.

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