Monday, February 1, 2010

What's a Day Off?

I'm exhausted. I've arrived home at 8:15 p.m. after a day full of meetings and errands; shuttling my parents to various places, doing their shopping and watching after my dementia-laden dad. Of the dozen or so things I had on my "to do" list, I accomplished most, but not all. I'm just too tired. And today was my day off.
Many pastors have "days off" just like mine. We only work "one day a week," or so we're told. We should be fresh. We don't punch a time card. We have lots of time for an errand or two. Or three. Or a dozen.
Preachers have so much free time, so the legend goes, that they must be instructed in the proper use of it - some people think. I had a deacon once who interrupted my study time, smack in the middle of it, to - get this- instruct me on how to use my time in the study. To facilitate his "lesson" he brought along a dozen pages of photocopied sermons from John Gill on how Gill used his time. Oh yes, I'm sure Gill had the same kind of routine pastors have these days: the phone ringing, the computer developing a glitch, and deacons arriving to waste their time. Well, maybe he had the deacons.
The truth is that the average pastor spends so much time being the pastor and doing pastoral things that he has a hard time finding time to do family things. The average pastor spends about sixty hours a week on the job. That's sixty hours on top of whatever other job he may have if he happens to be bi-vocational. There is a never ending urge to do something else, and there is always something else to do.
There was actually a time when I had a day off. I used to take off Mondays back when I had a church large enough to afford me taking one day a week to tend to my family. That was before we were missionaries, before we were church planters, and before the deacon arrived to complain that I wasn't spending more time in the study.
No, I wasn't. And neither do most pastors. They have to get out of the study because "study" is only a part of the job. Staying in the seclusion of the pastor's office is the surest way to kill the church. There aren't enough prospects in the pastor's study; not enough lost people to witness to, not enough to invite to church; not enough people to pastor.
So the pastor may be out of the study, but he is never out of the job, not even on his "day off." That's why I'm typing out this post on my laptop at home. My wife urged me to buy it so I wouldn't have to travel back to office to work on all the things that have to be done. I'm still tired and now it's 10:15 p.m. on my day off. I still have not finished editing the article I am writing for Regular Baptist Press. It will have to wait until tomorrow along with work on the Sunday morning message that I meant to start today. The job never ends.

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