Am I Spending My Time Right?

Part of my consulting practice consists of individualized coaching sessions with senior clergy leaders who are interested in shaping their leadership roles more effectively.  At some point in every coaching relationship the question inevitably arises, “Am I spending my time the right way? How do other leaders of large congregations spend their time?” 2471143585_c16d0aec8a

 In response to the question I typically offer my proverbial (but not always helpful) response, “It depends…”  It depends on what size congregation you lead. There are different size categories among large congregations and each requires a different emphasis in pastoral leadership. It depends on what your personal passion and strengths include. It depends on how large of a staff team you manage and how many other clergy leaders are available to tend to the worship and pastoral needs of your congregation.

I have noticed that the people who pose this question are often operating with an unstated assumption about time management. The question asker assumes that if they get the allocation of time right, they will have enough time to get everything done. I have yet to meet a clergy leader who has enough time to get everything done.  At the end of the day you have to decide if you are doing the appropriate things (the things that only you can do by virtue of your role as head of staff). At the end of the day you have to decide whether or not the things that you are tending elicit enough of your personal passion to keep you fully engaged as a pastoral leader.

Most clergy leaders feel that they don’t get enough time to tend the creative and spiritual side of life that keeps their preaching effective. To that end I often encourage clergy to be more thoughtful about how they structure the beginning of their week, to keep time open at the beginning of the week for creative reflection on scriptures and sermon topics. Too many leaders fill the beginning of the week with purely administrative tasks, and try to save the end of the week for their creative/reflective time. Then they hit the end of the week and they are too exhausted to be creative, or they lose that time to pastoral care emergencies.

 I’ve noticed that some of the more effective pastors are stricter about scheduling creative and spiritual time slots throughout the week. Check out Matthew Phillips reflection on this over at the Duke Divinity Call and Response Blog.

Photo credit: davebushe

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One Response to “Am I Spending My Time Right?”

  1. Kristy Pullen Says:

    Great blog and post, Susan! We’re looking forward to the launch next week and offering When Moses Meets Aaron at a special price.

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