Contrary to what some might think, most pastors don't have a lot of free time on their hands.
Contrary to what some might think, most pastors don't have a lot of free time on their hands (Flickr )

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It is an old joke, one that is still told too often. You go up to your pastor and say, "I wish I had your job; you only have to work one hour each week."

It is likely your pastor will laugh or smile at your comment. In reality, your statement probably hurts your pastor. Indeed, the reality is that too many church members have made wrongful and hurtful comments about the pastor's workweek.

Sadly, some church members really believe some of the myths about a pastor's workweek. And some may point to a lazy pastor they knew. I will readily admit I've known some lazy pastors, but no more so than people in other vocations. The pastorate does lend itself to laziness. To the contrary, there are many more workaholic pastors than lazy pastors.

So what are some of the myths about a pastor's workweek? Let's look at seven of them:

Myth No. 1: The pastor has a short workweek. Nope. The challenge a pastor has is getting enough rest and family time. Sermon preparation, counseling, meetings, home visits, hospital visits, connecting with prospects, community activities, church social functions and many more commitments don't fit into a 40-hour workweek.

Myth No. 2: Because of the flexible schedule, a pastor has lots of uninterrupted family time. Most pastors rarely have uninterrupted family time. It is the nature of the calling. Emergencies don't happen on a preplanned schedule. The call for pastoral ministry comes at all times of the day and night.

Myth No. 3: The pastor is able to spend most of the week in sermon preparation. Frankly, most pastors need to spend more time in sermon preparation. But that time is invisible to church members. They don't realize a pastor is truly working during those hours. Sadly, pastors often yield to the demand of interruptions and rarely have uninterrupted time to work on sermons.

Myth No. 4: Pastors are accountable to no one for their workweek. To the contrary, most pastors are accountable to most everyone in the church. And church members have a plethora and variety of expectations.

Myth No. 5: Pastors can take vacations at any time. Most people like to take some vacation days around Christmas. That is difficult for many pastors since there are so many church functions at Christmas. And almost every pastor has a story of ending a vacation abruptly to do a funeral of a church member.

Myth No. 6: The pastor's workweek is predictable and routine. Absolutely not. I know of few jobs that have the unpredictability and surprises of a pastor's. And few jobs have the wild swings in emotions associated with the pastorate. A pastor may be joyfully sharing the gospel or performing a wedding on one day only to officiate the funeral of a friend and hear from four complainers the next day.

Myth No. 7: The pastor's workweek is low-stress compared to others. I believe pastors have one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on earth. In fact, it is an impossible job outside of the power and call of Christ. Small wonder too many pastors deal with lots of stress and depression.

Pastors and church staff are my heroes. They often have a thankless job with long and stressful workweeks. I want to be their encourager and intercessor. I want to express my love for them openly and enthusiastically.

I thank God for pastors.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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