Recently a member of the team I lead shared over coffee that he had two really long days of work in a row and found himself a bit too tired to be fruitful on the next day. Some of you reading this, who are serving full time in a church or other Christian non-profit, are saying, “What else is new?” or “You are not alone!”
I have found over more than forty years in church leadership that pastors and other church staff members are usually caring, competent and conscientious workers in the front lines of ministry. If they are not attentive to the reality that their work is never actually “done”, they tend to fall into patterns of “overwork.” At times, resentment and bitterness toward their overloaded schedule will rise up within them and affect their ability to display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in all aspects of their lives – a sad state to be sure!
I have found a helpful tool to monitor this tendency in members of the teams that I lead or have led over the years. I divide each day of the week into three potential work segments: morning, afternoon and evening. I set before the team member a goal of working ten to twelve work segments each week. From time to time I ask how they are doing in this regard. It enables us to have supervisory conversations about the need for “comp” time, if there have been too many work segments in a given week. Ministry professionals do not easily contemplate the need for “comp” time in their average work week. However, when team members accept this guideline and live by it, they testify that it has helped them to maintain appropriate margins in their lives and a more appropriate work/non-work weekly or monthly rhythm. They also sense that they are more fruitful in their work output. One member of our team writes, “Being held accountable for ministry segments has been a life giving practice for me. It allows me to flex with the seasons of ministry that we all experience without feeling guilty for balancing out my life energy.” (Doug McClintic, Church Multiplication Catalyst)
I believe this is important because I believe from the depths of my being that overwork is the ENEMY of effective leadership in the church or other non-profit Christian organizations.
Does this make sense to you? If so, what is the next right step for you to take? If you are in a coaching relationship, this would be a great topic for a coaching session. If you’re not in a coaching relationship, could that be your next right step?