Maybe some of you have seen this. I know in my first call I’m at fault at several keys points…
On a typical Sunday in an evangelical church, the pastor will begin work at 7:30 in the morning and knock off at 6:30 at night. And that is not even the busiest day of the week, according to a new national study of clergy work habits published in Leadership Journal.
The study found that Wednesday is the longest day in an average 55-hour work week for evangelical clergy. During that week, the pastor on average will work four evenings and take four phone calls at home at night.
Sometime during the month, the typical pastor will feel both physical and emotional stress. Forty-two percent of spouses will complain about the schedule at least once a month.
So who is putting all this pressure on the pastors to work long hours?
According to the survey, it is not the members or the church board. It is the pastors themselves who are often their own worst enemies when it comes to setting limits on their workloads.
More than two-thirds said they expect too much of themselves. And, in a comforting thought for church members, just over half said they love what they do so much they don’t always know when to stop.
In the Leadership-sponsored study, 580 clergy responded to the mail survey sent out last spring to 1,199 pastors randomly selected from the subscription lists of Leadership, Christianity Today and Your Church. The sampling error was plus or minus 4 percent.
In describing their typical work week, pastors said they spend about 14 hours planning and attending meetings and services, 13 hours teaching and preparing sermons, nine hours in pastoral care and counseling, six hours in prayer and personal devotions and 13 hours in other tasks, including long-range planning and evangelism.
Asked how they would like to reallocate their time, approximately three out of four said they would like to spend more time in prayer and preparing sermons, and two out of three said they would give more attention to personal devotions. Given the opportunity, six in 10 pastors said, they would like to spend less time on administrative and budget tasks and preparing for and attending meetings.
Despite reporting high degrees of satisfaction with their jobs — 91 said they like the kind of work they do — the clergy also reported considerable stress. Two-thirds said they feel emotional stress at least monthly because of the nature of their work.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the most stressed-out pastors are those who work the longest hours, a median of 62 hours a week. They are more likely to work on their day off and are more likely to feel resentful about working too much.
The most satisfied group of pastors, according to the Leadership survey, limit their work week to 45 to 50 hours, use all of their vacation and consistently take at least one day off a week.
I know I have some work to do. I have to confess there are days off I’ve worked. After a year of ordained ministry I’m learning that it will only will hurt my my marriage, my family, and ministry. And as you read this you ask why is he still up?