Tag Archives: productivity

On the Ministry: Tasks Verses Relationships

One doesn’t have to serve as a pastor for very long to come to the realization that the Holy Ministry in America is in more than a little bit of crisis. Some of the competing models for the Pastoral Office include: shepherd, maintenance man, leader, enabler, facilitator, therapist, evangelist, social worker, community worker/activist, and the like. I’m sure there are another dozen or more titles or job descriptions which could be used. It is no wonder that pastors don’t know who they are or what they are given to do!

As I have tried to think through what it means to be a pastor, I always come down to the tension between tasks and relationships. Pastors are given certain tasks that they are to do day in, day out. Preach, teach, administer the sacraments, judge doctrine, perform acts of mercy on behalf of the body of Christ, etc. I can sit down in any given week and map out all of my time in terms of the tasks that I am to do as a pastor. Of course, I just listed the nice and easy and obvious list of tasks. There is also the other, unspoken list. Things like editing the bulletin, going through the mail, preparing for and going to meetings, newsletters, correspondence, etc., etc., etc.

At the same time, nearly every one of those primary tasks of the Office only have their purpose when they are given out to the flock. My work as a pastor is about people. It is about delivering Christ to them, in season and out of season. While this again may seem obvious, it is incredibly easy as a pastor to forget it. I can get so wrapped up in getting things done that I forget who I am doing them for in the first place! Yet if I spend all my energies simply and only working on relationships, I can just as quickly lose sight that I am here to deliver Christ and not myself.

Most pastors that I know fall off this wagon on one side or another. Me, I’m much more inclined to get wrapped up in the tasks that I lose sight of the relationships. I think this is the tendency of more academic type pastors. Obviously there are many others who focus more on the relationships. I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other, but it certainly makes it so we don’t understand each other very well.

So how does one maintain the healthy balance between what we are given to do and to whom we are given to do it? Here are some of my ideas, but I’d like to hear yours as well:

1. Be aware of the tension. Lots of good things happen as a result of tension. Being mindful of it can make it a blessing and not a source of stress.

2. Pray about it. Pray that God would make you productive in the sense of getting things off of your plate AND of bringing Christ into the lives of your people. They go together. Be deliberate in your prayers.

3. Think in very concrete terms about both tasks and people interaction. Schedule it. Put it on your “next action” list. However you need to do it to make it work. But don’t just allow the water to find its own level. If that is the case, you will simply gravitate toward your own interests.

So that’s my list. What’s yours?


How to handle getting back in the groove

We are back from vacation and I am looking at mounds upon piles upon loads of things that all have to get done RIGHT NOW. Everything is a priority when you get back in the groove of things. As I have started to work through the piles on my desk, the books in my “to read” stack, and all of the stuff in my various inboxes, my general inclination is quite simple:



I don’t think this is unique to those who suffer from depression, but that does make things worse. When you have a lot of things to do, with many different responsibilities that often compete with one another, it is very easy to go into shut-down mode and not be able to get off the ground.

How do you move forward? Here are a few things that work for me:

1. Recognize what’s going on and be honest about it.
2. Try to gather everything that has to get done into one place, one list, so that it is all there and there aren’t any loose ends niggling at your mind.
3. Try to prioritize as much as reasonably possible what has to get done when.
4. Work it down to manageable chunks of what you can actually DO.
5. Start on the list.
6. Breathe and remember that you are one person, not a god. You can only do what you are able to do.

That’s what comes to my mind. What’s in yours?