Indifference is not characteristic of the liturgy
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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

What do you do all week?

The guys at the local bar/coffee shop/restaurant/town meeting place like to rib me since I only work one day a week. I retort that yes, I only work one day a week, but I only get two days off all year long.

This business of only working one day a week is, in my experience with myself and my friends in the ministry, where the parish antagonists are likely first to strike against the pastor: he's lazy, what does he do all week, why are we paying him so much for so little work, etc.

Thus it is good general advice to young pastors, a pastor in a new a place, or a pastor who can see some conflict on the horizon to keep a daily log of just what he does all week. Lawyers have to do this all the time: they have to show what they are doing every 15 minutes (every 10 minutes if your hourly is high enough) in a "billable hours" journal. It is really handy to be able to plop this down in front of the board of elders, the district president, or the antagonist in the parish - it cuts them off at the pass.

And there is an added benefit to keeping this journal for at least a month or so every year: it gives you a chance to review how effectively you are using your time. I've rearranged my schedule more than once based on what I saw in my habits. As every pastor knows, a "normal week" is hard to come by - but by keeping this journal you can devise a "normal week" as a goal to aim at, keeping in mind the sort of contingencies you've got to expect in your parish. FWIW, here's my "normal week."

Sunday: Set up at church: 6am; Bible Class 7:30; Divine Services 8, 9:30; Bible Class 10:45. Usually home by 12 or 12:30 and usually have the rest of the day free.

Office/Study/Visit Days (Mon-Thurs)
Daily Mon-Thurs: Prayer, Scripture reading, and study: about 1.5-2 hours where it fits. Usually morning, but also at noon or in the afternoon.

Monday: Morning: in the office - prep services, newsletters, communication with parishioners, parish planning, writing (for this blog, papers for presentations, etc - not sermons), etc. About a third of the year there is a women's Bible study from 9:30-10:30. During the school year, opening chapel at 8:30. Afternoon: visits, errands, more of the morning stuff. I often spend either the morning or the afternoon visiting the sick or putting out fires that I learned about on Sunday. Evening: maybe once a month on average I have a meeting on Monday night.

Tuesday: Men's Bible study early. Then opening at school at 8:30 during the school year. The rest of Tuesday looks a lot like Monday. It is often a good day to visit the far away shut ins. Once a month this is Winkel Day and school board meeting in the evenings. Tuesday evening is the night I also set aside for meetings with parishioners, visits of delinquents, writing notes, etc.

Wednesday: Every other month during the school year, chapel at 8:30. Lunch with my wife (I often don't eat lunch or eat it at weird times, always on the run and alone as I like to think while I eat. On Wednesday I bring in something special from the bar/restaurant/coffee shop and we have lunch together.) Prep for Wednesday night stuff. Evening: 5 - set up for DS; 5:30-6:15, set aside to hear confession; 6:30 DS; 7:00 - catechesis for government school kids and whatever adults are "in the system."

Thursday: Morning coffee at the bar to catch up on all the local "news" (that is, gossip and BS) with all the old men. This is the main place I learn who is angry with me, who is sick, etc. 8:00-10, opening and catechesis at the school. 10:00 - sermon writing. Afternoon: the long list of what hasn't been done yet this week, all the leftovers.

Friday: Scheduled day off. Especially during the school year I might be stretched into doing a shut in call this day, but I am pretty good about taking it completely off.

Saturday: More than half the time I also have Saturday basically off as long as Thursday went well and there is no sermon hanging over my head.

One thing you will notice about my schedule is the paucity of evening meetings. I am just blessed in this regard: my people hate meetings as much as I do.

This week is off to a normal start. It's Monday at 9:45 and here I am writing, with my study done for the day. Though not my prayers and Scripture reading! This is a perennial problem with me. I find it very easy to put that off until later in the day even though I am always happier when I do it first. I should repent. I have three people to check up on, but they can all either be dealt with via email or wait until the afternoon. Now it's time to get the Advent services figured out and maybe a shut in call this afternoon. Deer season is also coming up, so if I have extra time today I might get sermons done ahead of time. I should have tonight off to hang out with the family.

I honestly don't understand you guys who take Monday off instead of Friday. Do you ever really get it off, free and clear?

Pr. H. R.7 Comments