Pastors and church planters, you don’t need to work 60 hours a week. It’s not good for you, your family, or your church. And the best part is, it isn’t necessary. You don’t need to work crazy hours to plant or lead a healthy, fruitful church.
I’m not suggesting we give lackluster effort to church planting. Church planting is hard, and you must be all in. If you want to be a planter, you must be relentless, work incredibly hard, and make sacrifices. But there’s a difference between hard work and overworking.
Some young church planters hear the message of overworking glorified by more seasoned pastors. They look back on their early days of planting and brag, “I worked nonstop! I don’t know how I survived! But praise God, look at my church now.” I’m telling you, don’t believe the hype.
I think there are some practical, godly practices we can put into place to keep our work week reasonable. We can work 40–50 hours a week and still have a thriving church. I learned most of these practices the hard way over 20 years of ministry. Consider these six steps to help manage your work week well.
1. Get good at rest.
God commands us to rest for a reason. If you take one day off, you’ll be more productive the other six days. If you sleep seven to eight hours a night, you’ll be more energized the next day. But, if you try and cut corners on sleep and rest, you won’t get more done—you’ll actually be less effective. We even need to take breaks during the day. Studies show that after just 90 minutes of deep work, our brains need a break.
2. Get good at time management.
Good time management is not just about your schedule but about managing energy and tasks, too. I’ve gained a ton of insight from Jordon Raynor’s book Redeeming Your Time. In this area, technology can be your friend or your foe. Don’t let your phone steal your productivity. Consider taking email off your phone so you are not constantly checking it. Put the phone out of the room when you are doing counseling or sermon prep. Concentrate on one thing at a time.God commands us to rest for a reason. If you take one day off, you’ll be more productive the other six days. Click To Tweet
3. Get good at setting boundaries.
The vast majority of us think others will be disappointed in us if we’re not accessible 24/7. But most of the time, those are expectations we’ve set for ourselves. Others usually give us a lot more slack than we give ourselves. When we set clear expectations for other people regarding our capacity and availability, most will respect and appreciate those boundaries.
4. Get good at utilizing admin help.
There are hours and hours of logistics, details, and administrative tasks to do when planting and pastoring a church. I don’t mind doing some admin, but God has gifted other people with this skill, and they excel at it. Finding the right support person means you can focus on your unique calling as a pastor.Remember, the church belongs to God, not you. He holds it together—and he’s always working. Click To Tweet
I believe most church planters can (and should) prioritize room in the budget for 10 hours a week of admin support from day one. But if you don’t have room in the budget for paid staff, ask for a volunteer. Some people would love to serve the church in this way.
5. Get good at sermon prep.
An older pastor once compared writing a sermon to writing a college term paper every week—it’s a lot. Sermon prep can feel overwhelming, and it’s tempting to want to spend 20 hours a week perfecting it. But no amount of our work can replace the work of the Spirit—rely on him. Once you get experience and hone your skills, most pastors can have their sermon prep done in 12–15 hours.
6. Get good at not getting it all done.
Ministry is a job where we are never done—so stop trying. You can’t do it all today or even this week. Go home for dinner, go to bed, and take off for a few days. Don’t try to be at every event, run every meeting, have lunch with every visitor, or preach every sermon.
Your church won’t grow because of the hours you put in. Lives won’t be transformed because you worked hard. Christianity is a supernatural religion. The Spirit of God must show up—and he doesn’t need you to be there when he does. If you feel like you have to be and do everything in your church, that’s a problem. The problem is either in your heart or in people who are not motivated, equipped, or released. Your working 10 extra hours will not make or break your church, but it might make or break your marriage or family.There’s a difference between hard work and overworking. Click To Tweet
Pastor, work hard for 40–50 hours a week, and trust that every hour is in God’s hands. Take note of these words from Psalm 127: 1–2, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
Remember, the church belongs to God, not you. He holds it together—and he’s always working. It’s his job to save souls and grow the church. So pray, trust him, and go to bed.