Friday, February 24, 2006

Going Down For the Third time....

Help! I'm drowning!

Does anyone have a good resource for time management? I need it desperately!

I've been keeping track of my time the last few weeks as an exercise. I discovered I've been spending about 35-40 hours a week on church work. Now, that's not bad at all if it's your full-time job. But I'm paid for 20 hours a week. Period.

I'm pulled several ways. One says that this is my calling, my life's work, and that I shouldn't even be keeping track. It's all for God's glory, right? Another way says that the labourer is worth her hire, and I deserve to be paid for my time and work (and I also need to eat and pay rent and have lights and heat and an Internet connection...). A third way says that I could do so much more if I had the freedom of being paid full time and was able to do all that I want to do (and I don't want to give 40+ hours on a regular basis until I'm paid for 40 hours on a regular basis, because why would the congregation pay for what they already get free?).

So. I'm working hard, doing good stuff, we're making progress on all fronts, and I'm genuinely glad to be here and working with these wonderful people. How do I balance all that I need to do (personal prayer/meditation time, worship, education, outreach, nurturing leadership, administration, etc.) without neglecting anything or over-emphasizing something else? Some weeks it seems like I just get one fire put out when another one blazes up, and I never get to the other things (professional reading, telephone calls to shut-ins, a day off for me) that I want/need to do as well as the usual (plan worship, write the sermon, visit the hospitalized, lead Bible study, etc.). And the bonfire I have to put out aren't bad things--they are often wonderful things, like weddings or looking for new space.

I'm working on saying no, and on telling people "I can't talk right now," and so on, but that doesn't always work, either. Delegating only works when you have someone to whom you can delegate a particular task. I am very careful to not overload people, as this church has a history of burning people out by asking them to do too much. So I often end up doing things that "ought to be done" myself, because there is no one to whom I can delegate.

This is not my first church. I was an associate pastor for two years, then led two churches (joint charge) for a year, before I arrived here in River City. Before that I was working part-time, running a house, and going to seminary part-time. I'm not exactly a novice at organizing my time and getting things done. It may have to do with the size of the church and what the pastor has to do. With the larger churches, I had committees of people who would do things like taking care of getting the palms for Palm Sunday or share teaching the Bible study or organize the retreat.

Isn't it ironic that the larger the congregation, the better-paid the pastor, and the narrower her/his focus is?

I really don't mean this as a whine, and I hope it doesn't come across that way. I want to do as much as I can--create worship, write sermons, visit, call, lead--and as well as I can. So what is keeping me from getting organized enough to get it all done?

I'm asking this as a genuine question, as I said. If anyone has a wonderful resource that helps set real priorities and stay on track, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


Quotidian Grace said...

I second your motion. I'd love to find a resource to help with the problem of setting boundaries vs. your sense of call when your "part-time" job is really "full-time". I'm having the same struggle myself and feel myself burning out and becoming resentful.

Rainbow Pastor said...

Yes, there's no such thing as a "part-time pastor," is there?

I'm afraid of becoming resentful or angry--I feel the beginnings of it from time to time. When I do feel those twinges, I try to take an afternoon or evening and do something totally unrelated to church work (grilled cheese sandwich and historical romance novel, or shopping at the mall or--real luxury--get my hair cut at the full-service salon). But of course there are time when I simply can't take any time to myself.

I want to know how to keep from getting to that point of frustration and resentment. When I can smell smoke, it's too late (g).

Hang in there!

LutheranChik said...

Time management is my absolutely worst skill -- WORST.

My own occupational issue right now is that I'm so much more interested in my lay ministry education than I am in my paid job. I think about my lay ministry stuff all day while I'm at work; and I know it affects my focus there. And the thing is...rostered lay ministers in our synod are, for the most part, working for no pay while keeping their day jobs; that's the whole point of the program. So it's not like, "Well, I'll put up with this for two more years, and then I'll be doing this other thing."

(Dontcha like how I hijacked your post to kvetch about my own disorganized life? :-/)

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