Over the past couple of weeks, I've been dragging. I feel as though I have no energy. I couldn't figure out why, until I started taking stock of how many hours I have been putting in for work per week. Without realizing it, I'd been putting in 50 or more hours in ministry, plus working several hours per week at a local golf course.
I realized last night that something should change. I hate to think about quitting the golf course job because it brings in some money per each hour I work. On the other hand, no matter how many hours I work in ministry, the pay is the same.
I've had to face the reality that now at age 50 (almost 51), I simply don't have the energy levels I had when I was 40-41, when I had less energy than when I was 30-31. I'm pretty sure that's generally how things go, and the energy levels won't likely get greater as the years continue to pass.
One of the realities with which I deal is that I have to do the vast, vast majority of my ministry work from home (other than when there is something taking place specifically at the church or if I need to make pastoral visitations and such). The point is, my main "pastor's office" is in my home. What I've found is that it's all too easy to figure "I'm not doing anything else, I might as well work on _______." (fill in the blank).
Last night, I remembered something that a former pastor of mine and I had discussed shortly after I first was district licensed about 17 years ago. It was called a 12-Point Planner, and basically works like this:
Each day is divided into 3 blocks of 3-4 hours each: Morning, Afternoon, and Evening. That's 21 blocks total. Working for 12 of those blocks in a week would be 36-48 hours.
To me that sounds like a reasonable amount of time to work in a week (generally speaking). The truth is, though, that when I accepted to the call to this congregation nearly 8 years ago, it was specifically pointed out that it was a "part-time" compensation package. Currently, my compensation package is $1,600 per year LESS than it was in 2004. The work at the golf course will hopefully make up for that amount, at about 5-10 hours of work there per week (seasonally, while the golf course needs the workers).
Figuring 5 hours there (the lowest amount per week, generally) and 36 hours per week in ministry (again, the lowest amount per week, generally according to the 12-point planner), that's a minimum of 41 work-hours per week. Looking at the "high end" for both of those, that's 58 work hours per week. That's probably more than is healthy, but both of the "minimum" and "maximum" would decrease during the off-season for golf.
Honestly, I feel as though as the years continue, I'll likely need to start cutting back on hours. At the same time, we need money to support my family. As someone who did music ministry said to me a number of years ago, "We don't do it for the money, but we need money to keep doing it."
So why am I posting this? I think it's because I want to urge people--especially those who don't necessarily work a "regular" schedule each week (such as many pastors)--to look at their schedules and evaluate whether they are working healthy amounts of time per week.