Thursday, October 02, 2008


This is post number 1201 on my blog--wow!

I have been thinking a lot about time lately.  
This is probably obvious from my meltdown last week and the responses, and then the long lag between then and now...
In any case:  I know ReverendMother has written extensively about time on her blog and in a magazine, and her thoughts are, as usual, much more coherent than mine and much better theologically grounded.  But I've been thinking about it from the specifically pastoral perspective and wondering:

Is it really necessary and expected that pastors work this much?  I mean, really?  And if so, how do we model healthy boundaries, self-care, and relationship to time for others?  I live and serve in a place where many people work more than 40 hours a week, and many people spend upwards of 2 hours a day commuting, and people spend time at church as well.  How can I practice what I preach about using our time well?  How does one be a good steward of one's time?

One of the commitments of members of the Iona Community is to be accountable for one's use of time.  The rule asks that we ensure that we use our time not simply to work, but also for leisure, for family, for developing skills or acquiring new ones, for worship and devotion, for voluntary work - and for sleep!  So I will attempt to do that all are my accountability partners.  I did a little math yesterday and discovered that if I continue to work at my current level, plus sleep 8 hours a night, plus exercise each day, plus travel to the places I need to (most days just home to gym to home to church and home again, but often to meetings in another town), plus take showers, then I'm left with about 27 hours in the week in which to cook, eat, read, play with my kitties, clean up my house, do laundry, do my grocery shopping, pay bills and read mail, talk to my friends, play WordTwist on facebook, do anything else at all, and generally relax.  I think I have discovered why the loss of our Crystal Lake Taco Bell has hit me so hard.  And why my house hasn't been vacuumed in two months.  And why I'm 6 weeks late on scheduling check-ups at the doctor's office.  And why I haven't talked to my family in weeks.  Not to mention why I'm having a little meltdown!  If we assume that cook and eat = necessities, then I'm down to around 13 hours a week for all those other things.  I am not convinced that's healthy, though perhaps it's more healthy than people in other situations, who don't have time to schedule for exercise or sleep.  I just don't function well without those things and have learned my lesson.

The average American watches 5 hours of television per day.  How is that possible?   I mean, I got rid of TV at my house because I wasn't watching it, and now I see from my time breakdown why that was.  Obviously the average American is either not reading at all or has WAY more free time than I do.  

I'm not sure what to think about the time problem. I know that I don't feel okay about working as much as I do.  I also know that I probably don't maximize my time in the office the way others like to--I tend to be a relationship builder so I spend time talking with people and put off the doing of stuff, which sometimes leads to me staying later than I would if I'd just shut my door and do it.  

How can I maintain some balance in my time?  And how can I encourage others to balance their time if I'm not able to balance mine?  I'm not convinced that this problem just "comes with the territory"--in fact, I think it's our duty as pastors to model healthy boundaries and good self care, not to work ourselves into the ground.  How can we love our neighbors if we don't love ourselves, right?

That was incoherent...I apologize.  Weird day.  And now....time to get ready for a debate party!  One of the best parts of my week...


  1. Some random thoughts.

    A friend of mine I met here is a pastor and her father was a pastor. And he divided each day into thirds - a morning, and afternoon and an evening. And he figured out that if we work 15 thirds in a week, then it's about 40 hours. So, if you have evening meetings, take the afternoon off or go in late the next day. Sundays count! I am so-so with this.

    If I have an evening meeting, I sneak out early and come back. Now, my folk are usually Ok with this. I also set specific "office hours" - -about 8 hours a week when I am in my office with the door open and people can drop by and expect to see me there. But if it is not office hours, then I close the door or go make visits. And I take my day off as much as possible, and if I have to work on a friday, then I tally it up as "comp" time and will take it 2 days at a time when I need a break.

    I have learned that none of this work is ever totally finished, and so I feel less guilty leaving things undone or to rest until tomorrow. it seems that folks would rather have the relationship than the perfect Bible Study.

  2. yeah...I've heard and tried the unit thing. It doesn't seem to really work for me because it's a little nebulous--if i check my email for 10 minutes, does that count? etc.

    obviously, i'm still working on it...

  3. De-clutter my calendar and enjoy my vocation - that's a promise I try to keep. It doesn't work all of the time, but now I don't feel guilty about taking time to go fishing, reading, or even shopping.