Vol. 2, Issue 10

Produced by CE National

In the January issue of Pastorpedia, pastors Jeff Bogue, Knute Larson, and Jim Brown talk about time management for a pastor.

Personal Time Management
Look at it this way:
We all get 168 hours a week, sight unseen.
Let’s guess at hours…56 for decent sleep, 14 for eating,
5 for church worship and a group and 55 for church
That still leaves 39 hours of flex time.
So we best adopt a strategy. Maybe what has helped the three of us can help you.
Take your time as you decide.
Knute, Jeff, Jim
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Watch the video

(CE National also produces one-day training events called Pastorpedia Live.)
What are the essential elements of a week?
Jeff Bogue
The top priorities of my week are time with the family, my health, leadership development, preaching, management of the church, and rest. Of course, if there’s any kind of legitimate emergency, that will jump to the top of the list.
Jim Brown

  • Set aside time each week for a sermon. It is critical to develop, study, and construct a message that helps your people grow in their walks. Never short cut this process!
  • Keep the vision hot for the direction of the church.
  • Prioritize your own personal walk with Jesus. I can only lead as far as I am being filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • Lead my staff first and shepherd them well by keeping the spiritual temperature hot in the office place. Great teams function well in non-toxic environments!
  • Run your schedule carefully and stay on top of administration. Don’t be a reactive leader but be a proactive leader. Own the schedule. Effective teams are organized and work hard to plan well.
  • Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more. Make prayer the first, middle, and last thing you do in your day. Prayer allows you to hear from God.
  • Accept and expect the unexpected!
  • Love the ones you are with. Sounds trite, but make sure all the other stuff doesn’t get in the way of loving people who are in your sphere of life that week. People will follow you if they know you love them.

Knute Larson

  • Time alone, time with God and His Word, for strong study in preparation for sermons. And at times these could all be one.
  • Time with family, including a date each week if married, and one-on-ones with any children, and set evenings to be together.
  • Time with all staff to relax and pray and laugh and plan; and one-on-one time at least every two weeks.
  • We have all read the articles and the verses.
  • Good food and good sleep.
  • Time with people in discipleship, open meetings, and pastoral cares.

Do I have to schedule them?
Jeff Bogue

  • Start with your family. It is very important that your spouse and children have time with you throughout the week. Your children need to know they can count on their dad being available to them.

-I always take my day off, and the evening before my day off I try to get home by three o’clock so my children know that that evening will be like a “normal” family’s Friday night.
-On my day off they know we’re going to have breakfast together and possibly do something fun like a bike ride or a hike. And then daddy’s going to work in the yard or on the house…do the normal chores that a father might do.
-As our kids have gotten older, we have to help them schedule family time as well. Tuesday and Thursday evenings are very protected times in our home. No matter what, we try to sit at the table, interact with each other, and have fun!

  • The same scheduling emphasis holds true for health. I try to go to the gym three times a week. I try to go in the evenings, because my teenage sons will often go with me, and I can doubly redeem the time.
  • Leadership development: If we don’t schedule leadership development then our schedules get chewed up with the urgent. I do my best to hand off hospital visits, management needs, and prioritize the development of leadership. Whether it’s staff or lay leadership, those are the meetings that are the least flexible on my calendar, because the minute you stop investing in leadership, you start falling behind in leadership development. For the long-term health of your ministry you must develop leaders.
  • Preaching is very important in the life of the church. I would argue that it’s not always as important as leadership development. Let’s be honest, people forget 97% of what you say by Monday morning. So, while preaching is very much on the mind of the pastor, it is very much a passive experience for the listener. I do not want to minimize preaching, that’s why it’s on my list of highest priorities, but I don’t want to over emphasize it either.

I would rather have two or three amazing leadership development meetings and an okay sermon, then an amazing sermon and no leadership development.

  • Management of the church. I have blocked into my calendar administration times, because I simply need as a senior pastor to manage the church. But that’s the lowest priority for me, because it’s usually repetitive tasks. I will look to delegate as many of those repetitive tasks as possible.
  • Rest lets me clear my heart, and it strengthens and renews my passion. A little sleep and an Ohio State football game go a long way. J
  • Work hard to have a predictable schedule.

Jim Brown

  • You should manage your time in a way that allows you to block out times to meet with people.
  • Don’t ever let someone’s franticness turn into your foolishness.
  • Most people have no idea that their emergency or issue is not the only person/concern you have.
  • You will fail as a leader if you allow others to run your schedule for you.
  • Learn how to say “no” and learn how to not let someone “guilt you” in to doing something.
  • Remember you are there to please God and not man.
  • Keep your day off—off.
  • Remember most dire situations didn’t happen overnight and they will not be fixed overnight. So pray for them until the meeting can be scheduled.
  • Remove the Messiah complex and see if others can help them too.

Knute Larson

  • A master schedule—a plan made for most weeks, the average week—is so you get all the “elements of a week” in for sure. If we do not attack the week by schedule it starts weak. And no one wants a weak week.
  • As a coach I always suggest pastors do their own, which they give to staff, and ask staff to get theirs approved by the one to whom they report. This sets priorities and schedules responsibilities.
  • A good master schedule—I should say Master Schedule!—is reviewed for each semester of church life. August for the fall, Christmas break for the first half of the year.

Jeff Bogue

  • The interruptions that we should never belittle or neglect are interruptions from your kids, especially the older they get. If your teenagers will stop and talk to you, drop everything and pay attention to them! 🙂

Your spouse is never an interruption, so her phone call is the one that you pick up. Heidi and I have a signal system where she calls once:

– If I am in a meeting I will let it go to voicemail.
– If she calls right back I know she needs me right away.

She knows that if she needs me she can get to me and I will respond.

  • Never neglect true friendships. Real friends, refreshing friendships are a vital part of staying long-term in ministry.

-We have friends from out of town who come and stay with us.
-When there’s an unscheduled opportunity to get our families together with a close friend we view that as a gift, not as one more thing on the schedule.

  • Never, ever neglect or delegate a real crisis. When there is a death or an accident, these are times as a pastor, we need to be in the snapshot of what’s going on. You have to discern what is a real crisis and what is a crisis in someone’s mind; but if it’s a real crisis, drop what you’re doing, get over there, and love on the people in need.

Jim Brown

  • Assume that these will happen and make wise decision on how to address them.
  • Pray before making your response on how much you can be involved.
  • When you are with people, make sure you are with them mentally, emotionally, and physically. Never make them feel unloved.
  • I often say, “If I don’t have time for this then I shouldn’t be a pastor.”
  • Look at who is interrupting you. Often this will help you understand the importance of the interruption.
  • I have witnessed God use these interruptions to keep my heart on track and remind me of what is most important.
  • People matter and all people are created in God’s image so make sure you value and love them, no matter how much time you can give them.
  • If you can’t meet right then, make sure you pray with them. Often this is the very thing they need the most.
  • God is never put off by our interruptions. That truth keeps my shepherd heart soft!

Knute Larson

  • Family needs and tragedies and special needs for strong church members override the planned schedule of course. It is neither a prisoner nor home for a Pharisee.
  • Most phone needs or walk-in needs have waited a long time to be asked, and can usually be kind enough to schedule ahead.
  • Many come close to being fatalists when they theorize that all interruptions are from God.
  • People can be helped for the moment when we take a short time with them, or walk to meet them in the lobby and listen briefly then schedule another time. Maybe with another staff person or a strong volunteer.
  • Don’t allow anything to interrupt your creation of your Master Schedule.

Pastorpedia is produced monthly by three experienced pastors: Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by CE National. Visit cenational.org/pastorpedia for more issues and to read the bios of our contributors.