How should a full-time pastor prioritize his time?

I was recently written by a bi-vocational pastor who is about to become fully compensated by his church.  Since this is new territory for him, he asked me how he should organize his time each week.  On a previous post, I gave a general template I think pastors should follow amidst our biblical tasks.  Here is a follow-up to that post worded a bit differently, yet, emphasizes the same biblical responsibilities that should be visible in how we as full-time pastors prioritize our time.  It should also be noted that this template could be applied by a bi-vocational pastor with obvious limitations with his time.

Ministry of the Word and Prayer.  Although often squeezed by other things, the pastor has to make sure he has adequate time for prayer and preparation to preach God’s Word.  This is the central means of which we feed God’s people when we gather together and how God builds his church.  We also need not to overlook the time the pastor must spend praying and ministering the Word to his people in smaller settings such as hospital rooms, living rooms, and sitting in his office while counseling.

Deliberate care of souls.  The New Testament teaches the pastor/elder is to shepherd the flock of God (1 Peter 5:2) knowing he will give an account for souls (Heb. 13:17).  We must spend our time in the deliberate care of the souls of our people.  I say deliberate because much of what the pastor does with his people may not constitute the care of their souls.  Be deliberate and make this a priority.

Necessary Church Administration.  All administration is not necessary for the pastor to do, but some does require his attention.  Make sure you are discerning in what administration tasks need to be done by the pastor and what could be delegated to someone else not responsible to preach every week.  Ultimately, the task to “exercise oversight” (1 Peter 5:2) is to make sure the church runs in a smooth and efficient manner.  Delegate as much as possible so to focus on the first two priorities.

Many pressures and demands pull on the pastor’s time.  A full-time capacity does not allow enough time to address them all, though I wish it did.  Be wise and diligent with whatever time you are given, and delegate to other capable servants in the church so you are able to focus on that which God calls us to whether bi-vocational or full-time.


Posted in The Pastor's Soul, Training for Ministry
5 comments on “How should a full-time pastor prioritize his time?
  1. Greg says:

    The problem comes when there is one pastor in a small church. No admin person results in the tyranny of the urgent taking priority. If the furnace needs repair, it is the pastor who must be there to let in the repairman. When rain water leaks in and the carpet in your nursery is soaked, he is the only one there to take care of the problem. It can’t be left there to sit all day until another brother can come in after work and take care of the problem.

    Most congregations can get a small army of volunteers to do a lot of things but it is these urgent issues when everyone else is at work that consume the pastor’s time in a small church. Any ideas for work-arounds in this situation?

    • briancroft says:

      Great question and one I had to wrestle with for years as the only pastor of a very small church. I still pastor a small church, but do very little now with some of those tasks as I spend a good bit of time raising up leadership to handle the building, leaks, bulletin, etc. Until you can raise up that leadership to handle those things, it will fall on you. It will always still fall on you at certain times as it does me as the only full-time pastor at our church. That is just the way it is. Yet, there is much delegation that can be done to help take that pressure off of you.

  2. Tim Lewis says:

    I would also add the importance of care for the pastor’s own soul. Sermon prep and prayer for the congregation is not a substitute for a pastors own spiritual growth. While many of the pastors preaching topics can stem from his personal time with God, he should cultivating his own heart each day before he attempts to cultivate others.

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