Dr. Randy WhiteI’ve been a pastor long enough to know that there is no single way to live the life of a Pastor that is the “right way.” Each pastor is a human being with a unique set of circumstances. Because of this, each pastor needs a day off. Which day should be the Pastor’s day off?
I grew up in the parsonage. My dad was pastor of New Mexico churches all through my “growing up” years. In those days, it was traditional for both pastors and barbers to take Monday off. (I’m not sure if there is any connection!) As I began to Pastor in the early 1990s, however, Friday had become the day of choice for most Pastors to take as a day off. I took Fridays for almost all of my ministry. It seemed to work well with family, and gave a two-day weekend of Friday and Saturday. It seemed like a good thing. But I more recently began taking Monday off, and I love it. For my pastor friends, here’s why I think you should join me in taking Monday off.
- It gives the church staff (even if your staff is just a secretary and custodian) a day without you. They will appreciate this more than you know! They will also grow in their ability to carry on business without you, and thus will be better at what they do.
- You are often on an emotional high or an emotional low on Monday. Taking a day off will give you time to balance and refocus.
- The office is often filled with a thousand little things on Monday. Monday’s are filled with interruption, small-talk, record-keeping, and other mundane matters. Your presence isn’t necessary.
- Friday’s are often more quiet around the church office. You will get more done working on Friday than on Monday.
- Friday’s often have ministry duties that you need to attend to anyway. Fellowships and church events are often on Friday night. Some church members who need to see the Pastor are off on Friday.
- When you’re not ready for Sunday, you end up working on Friday anyway, even if it is from home. When you’re off on Monday, you are much more likely to really be off.
- You won’t be interrupted as much on Monday. Everybody is busy on Monday…too busy to bother you. If you’re off on Monday, they will more likely wait until Tuesday to contact you than if they need you on Friday—few will wait over the weekend.
A note to church members
I know that there are very few of you who think, “He only works on Sunday!” I have found church members to be very respectful of my time. I can publish my email and my phone number and keep an open door because people are respectful of my time. I appreciate this.
For the few who may not understand the demands on a Pastor’s time, let me remind you that his time has a thousand demands. For most Pastors, Sunday is a 12 hour day, with the possibility of a 30 minute much-needed nap. Wednesday is another 12 hour day. Any good sermon or Bible study preparation takes hours, not minutes. A Pastor can easily spend 6-8 hours of preparation for a sermon or Wednesday night Bible study…and should. I would say that any Pastor who spends less time than that doesn’t really know what the text says nor all the issues of the text, thus they are likely preaching a lot more modern psycho-babble than Biblical exegesis. With a million other ministry needs, your Pastor’s time is crowded. Encourage him to take a day off to let the mind and body rest. In the end, you’ll both be happier for it!
NOTE FROM CMR:
Pastors are the busiest people in the entire church, as a rule. The pressure is tremendous on every level - spiritual, personal, physical, mental, timewise - particularly in mid-life when they have children, grandchildren and even elderly parents to tend to. Often the pastor's wife works and has her own ministry involvements, and sometimes the pastor has another job.
Stress is the single most identified reason for ministers prematurely leaving the field. Pastors are expected to be super preachers, great administrators, wise counselors, witty, charming, serious, humorous, spiritually mature, and know every 'right' answer to every Bible question. Often they have no confidante with whom to share their problems, making it an even lonelier path. Their families are expected to be good examples to the world on a 24/7 basis, including their marriages, their parenting skills, etc. All problems are expected to be successfully negotiated - and out of sight.
The only reason any man would (or should) take on this job is in response to a direct call from God. Love your pastor and family, always think twice before speaking about 'issues' and be patient with him. Not every last issue needs to be discussed with the pastor. Be kind and supportive and let them know that you appreciate them. Most of all, PRAY always for your pastor and wife. And let them know you do. It will be a great encouragement and a token of your spiritual support at the deepest level of their lives.