What is the most common ministry priority that a pastor neglects?

When I became a senior pastor, transitioning from an associate role at another church, my life and ministry suddenly became very busy—busier than they had ever been before. I knew, without a doubt, what I was called to do. I knew what I should be doing. Yet week after week, I saw the things I was supposed to be doing getting squeezed out of my schedule because there were urgent demands on my time. Above all else, the one task that seemed to get squeezed out most was prayer. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. More than any other aspect of a pastor’s calling, prayer is the most difficult to maintain. Prayer requires time. And prayer is usually most fruitful when done in a quiet place, without constant interruption or distraction. Unfortunately, prayer doesn’t demand your attention. In the midst of people wanting your time and urgent tasks to complete, spending time in prayer is easy to neglect.

A pastor knows that he will be preaching every six days, regardless of how busy he gets. The sermon must get done, and so time is set aside for that. And there are sick people in the hospital, and their suffering sits on your conscience so that even if you are busy you’ll eventually make the time to go. Funerals happen as well and a pastor is at the mercy of the plans of that family and funeral home. Pastors’ and deacons’ meetings get planned in advance, and these become default priorities in a pastor’s schedule. Besides, other people are depending upon him to be there and lead. But none of this is true with prayer. Prayer may sit on your conscience, but it isn’t complaining. It remains on the list of tasks for the day, but those who are not prayed for are unaware that they are forgotten. As other demands steal our attention, prayer gets pushed to the background. Many pastors, myself included, will go week after week until eventually that soft but necessary voice calling us to stop and pray just fades out. If enough time passes, the voice of conviction and desire will go away. When that happens, prayer gets squeezed out of our life. Ironically, a pastor can be so busy caring for his people that he never makes time to stop and pray for them.

Pastors, I know your schedule is busy.  I am aware of the great demands on your time that pull on your conscience.  But, don’t forget to pray for your people this week.  Pray with your people.  Set time aside in a quiet place and cry out to God for your people.  Make the other pastoral matters wait.  It is safe to say they are less important than prayer.

Posted in Oversight of Souls, The Pastor's Soul
One comment on “What is the most common ministry priority that a pastor neglects?
  1. jeff says:


    I came upon this site looking on examples of serving a wife. My problem really stems from some frightening stats that coincidentally I heard on a talk show this morning with a woman host.

    Women are not disciplined in church today, not to mention the secular world. You can disciple women, but lets look at statistics:

    Divorce is the same within christianity as the secular world.

    Up to 80% of divorce is filed by the wife, up to 90% of divorces among college age are filed by the wife.

    Of those filed, only 20% are for adultery, so what are the rest for?

    New study says women are the more aggressive and abusive (1st study was done by Johnson et al. and studied women’s shelters, the second was done by Bates et al. and was study men and women in relationships.) This would indicate that even if the abuse was equal, why are women filing more?

    This discussion is in regards to christian women filing. I can’t find the study that states men commit infidelity more now than before the feminist movement (although I’ve read it), but can for the above.

    Men bashing is prevelant as you would agree, and it is JUST as prevelant in the christian church. Men are literally afraid to lead their family and you wonder why…. women can file and get rewards for doing so IN the christian church sometimes with the pastors blessings.

    So the question is why are the pastors not calling the wives to the carpet on this? Why are they not making them MORE accountable for the distruction of the family unit?

    The husband is to serve the wife and love her, to protect her and treat her like Christ treated the church. Would he let her destroy the body? Why are the sheperds not tending to this matter? Pastors are always coming down on the husband, which they should in matters pertaining to his part, but you do not see this happening with the wives. Period.

    With a love and truth, I have a wife I love and am committed to and she was diagnosed with Hypervigilant Narcissistic pd. It is very difficult. I want to present her unblemished and pure. brownjeff68@yahoo.com

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "What is the most common ministry priority that a pastor neglects?"
  1. […] Brian Croft: What is the most common ministry priority that a pastor neglects?  […]

  2. […] in Sociology. He also undertook some graduate work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article is from his blog, Practical Shepherding, and is used with […]

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