Once again our Fanning the Flame team gathered to listen to a CD. This time the topic was “protecting the Pastor’s time.” It started out with a reading from Acts, Chapter 6. There is a controversy about the daily division of food, and the twelve disciples gathered together and decided:
“It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:2-4
Notice it is not a question of the disciples being “too good” to perform such a menial task. The men selected were also well respected, wise and spiritual. It is a matter or prioritizing duties. The disciples were called to a particular ministry, and they needed to focus on that responsibility.
Strangely (or not so strangely) enough, we were also recently reading this passage in Sunday School, as part of our study of spiritual gifts. Certain gifts such as apostleship, teaching, shepherding and evangelism (probably most pastors have one or more of these) build up the body of Christ — they help it to grow, spiritually and numerically. If the Pastor is distracted by too many “emergencies” and cannot concentrate on these gifts, the body will suffer. According to the speaker, a good preacher will spend up to 22 hours per week in prayer, study and sermon preparation. Is this really important? Well, studies have shown that one of the biggest factors in whether visitors chose to join a particular church is the quality of the sermons and the preparedness of the preacher. So, yes, it is. Also, this speaker contends that a pastor’s counseling load will go down if his preaching is earnest and compelling enough to make a difference in the way his congregants lead their lives.
I actually think our congregation is quite respectful of my husband’s time. However, as part of our Fanning the Flame process, he is trying to pull back from certain responsibilities that really aren’t his — for example, attending Church Council meetings. He now goes to begin the meeting with some devotions and then leaves the council members to their work. There is really no reason for him to be involved in getting the plumbing fixed, or scheduling the church picnic.
This CD urged pastors and church leaders to agree upon a list of 3-5 priorities for the pastor. The list would probably include:
- Prayer and study
- Teaching and preaching the Word
- Leadership development
The CD also stressed the need for a commonly understood plan for all members to pray regularly for their pastor and church leaders. This could even include signing a pledge or covenant and setting a particular time of the day.
The bottom line? Your Pastor and every pastor needs to continue to grow in his relationship with the Lord. His preaching should flow out of his devotional life.