How Many Hours Should a Pastor Work?

TimeI once talked to a pastor who said that they expected pastors to work 50 hours a week. Their reasoning was that they expect each church member to volunteer ten hours a week plus a full-time job is forty hours a week. Between the pastor’s paid and volunteer time, it should be 50 hours. I will tell you that this particular pastor worked far more than 50 hours per week. I will also say that I don’t expect every church member to volunteer ten hours a week, even though some spend much more.

How many hours should a pastor work?

When I first began as a pastor, I was very concerned about the hours. It was important to keep track of hours and make sure that everything was tracked. The problem is that you can never be precise in ministry. Even if you clock in and clock out of the office, there are always unexpected events that take place. Not only that, unlike many other jobs, pastoral ministry comes home with you. The pastor’s mind is still working on the things going on at the church even when they are home.

I have recently returned to pastoral ministry after a couple of years away and I look at my ministry in a totally different way. I am full-time and I give my congregation their money’s worth when it comes to my work. However, I have absolutely no interest in counting hours.

The way I plan my work week is that I determine what I want to accomplish that week and then I do it. That is it. I understand that my congregation is paying me to do my work, not to just fill up time. If one week it takes me half the time it usually does for me to write a sermon, I don’t feel guilty if I spend some of that time with my family.

The way I plan my work week is that I determine what I want to accomplish that week and then I do it. Click To Tweet

But couldn’t this lead to cheating the congregation? I have found that since I have switched from focusing on hours to focusing on what I want to accomplish, my productivity has gone way up. I’m accomplishing much more now than I have at any time in my ministry. It may be that since I have stopped stressing about time that I have more emotional energy to do the things that matter.

How many hours should a pastor work?

As long as it takes to get done what needs to be done and not a minute more.

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2 thoughts on “How Many Hours Should a Pastor Work?”

  1. When I started in ministry as an assistant pastor in the eithties, my senior pastor had been a former executive with Merill Lynch. He told me the day I started, ‘Ralph, there is no time click. You know what you need to do, and what it will take to get it done. Just do it. If you get something dine early consisder the extra time a bonus. I have strived to keep that in mind

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