Most pastors that I know, including myself, struggle with being excessively busy. We see how many things we can pile on our ministerial plates. We know that ministering within a local congregation itself is more than a full time job. Most people, who have never walked in the shoes of a pastor, imagine the pastor sitting all day with his feet up, sipping coffee, reading the Bible and generally basking in the Shekinah. For many of us, we expected this when we sensed the Spirit’s call for us into ministry. But in reality, for most of us, it is long days of counseling. Sure there is coffee, but normally accompanied by the tears and struggles of the person sitting across the table from you. There are continual issues, emails, phone calls, meetings and preparation. Whether it be physical (like a broken sound system, coffee pot or a balky back), emotional (us on the top of that list), relational (no there are never any interpersonal conflicts in church), societal (some real world happening that is dramatically impacting) or spiritual (growing in Christ is a messy business), it really never ends. For most of us, instead of basking in the Shekinah, we drag ourselves into the pulpit with broken prayers for the Spirit to speak despite ourselves. And that leaves out budgeting, family time and the most important reality of a prayer life and relationship with God Himself. Please don’t feel that I am complaining or lamenting. I am not. I am just trying to set the stage.
You see all of that is more than a full time job (and for many of us, we also work a day job). But yet, for so many of us, there are a million and one other things that we find ourselves doing in God’s name. Chaplaincy, disaster response, blogging (like I am doing right now), countless hours doing innumerable good things. Oftentimes, pastors have a ton of additional things that they are involved in. For many of us, if we are not busy, then we are not pastoring. If we are pastoring and also busy, then we have value in the ministry. If we can say that our calendar is full then we justify our existence. When we get to the end of our day and we are exhausted, we can say to ourselves, “You are God’s man, well done, good and faithful servant!”.
But we are valuing ourselves not by the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His love and grace. Instead we are valuing ourselves by our busyness. I have often asked myself, “Would I be bored in my Christian walk if there wasn’t so much ministry to do?” I struggle with my own heart’s response. I would be restless and bored. That makes me nervous. Should I be restless or bored with Jesus alone? We all know the answer to that!