For the next four weeks I am not preaching, and do not have to prepare a message. We are doing after Mass messages for our current series on the Bible and Tom and Chris are speaking. Without message preparation, my week looks and feels very different than usual. I am hoping to get a head start on the fall series this week and next, then organize our stewardship series for November and then spend some time on Advent-Christmas, maybe even make some notes for Christmas Eve. The period from September to Christmas has a way of feeling like a runaway train (I saw Halloween decorations on sale in the store yesterday). This year I am resolved to be prepared and enjoy it all.
Yesterday I was visiting another Church (I will not be mentioning which one) and while I was there I witnessed the Pastor running around quite busy about many things. Coming home, I realized that not one of the things he was busy doing is even ever on my “to do” list.
Most of my week is spent in message preparation for the week end, it’s mostly a quiet, solitary task but its worth it, because that is where I reach the greatest number of people.
The next significant portion of my time is spent meeting with my staff and following what they’re doing; they are also helping to lead our Church and investment in them is building our bench strength when it comes to leadership. We have a weekend review on Monday, where we also enjoy lunch together; we have a Tuesday meeting to look ahead to the coming weekend, and then a creative planning meeting which looks further down the road. I have a weekly administrative meeting, I meet with Tom and Chris every week and one and one with the other members of our Pastoral Team each week on rotation. There are inevitably other meetings too, with volunteer leaders, but usually not that many.
And obviously, I have my weekend schedule, which keeps me occupied on the weekends.
As important as deciding what I do, is deciding what I do not do. I do not counsel or give spiritual direction (neither of which I am qualified to do anyway). I don’t have many appointments of any kind, we have found that most requests can and should be handled elsewhere in our organization. Weddings, baptisms and funeral planning, for example, all have great volunteer staff responsible and entirely capable of assisting people at through those important events. I do try to make some time for visits to the sick, but only as a symbolic gesture more than any real contribution to our Church’s Pastoral Care, which reaches out to far more people than I could ever even begin to see. And just having a well staffed information desk in the lobby on the weekends cuts down on the traffic in the office during the week.
As Pastor, my job basically comes down to “lead and feed.” Through the weekend message and the celebration of the Eucharist I am involved in “feeding” people and hopefully helping them grow as disciples. Cultivating leaders, staff and volunteer staff, and helping to cast vision and set direction is how a Pastor leads. To do that, I think a big part of my job is about personal development, on-going learning and prayer. My days and weeks are full and usually well organized, but if you followed me around I would not appear to be busy.
The question for a leader is, I think, what do you need to do that only you can do? For me, that is leading and feeding.