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“It seems like I live for interruptions,” a seasoned pastor said with a frown after he swallowed a sip of coffee. We were meeting at Starbucks to get away from the office. He had invited me to speak at a special event he was planning in his church, and wanted to give me some background. But the conversation had taken a turn toward venting frustrations, and for now, the background information could wait.As I listened, I heard him express his desire to be available to his people, but lamented how this “availability” became a seemingly endless line of interruptions which often left little time or energy for study and preparation.
I remembered expressing the same frustrations to my wife during our early years in ministry. I was worried that the interruptions caused by members dropping by the church office were negatively affecting my preaching preparation. With the wisdom only a discerning pastor’s wife could utter, she said, “I think you need to worry when people STOP coming by to see you.”
Regular office hours for the pastor are important. They say that you are available to your people.
Most of us in ministry don’t mind interruptions for urgent spiritual or emotional needs, but setting appropriate boundaries can help reduce the stress of our daily people contacts. I have a pastor friend who hangs a sign on his office door that reads, “No way; no how can the Wizard be disturbed.” It’s signed, “OZ” in big red letters. Not the approach I would use, but you really have to know this guy.
Establishing boundaries and managing our time is challenging in any setting. Here are some thoughts:
Communication in a church is an important task. Phones, tablets and computers keep us in contact with the people we serve. You may want to use these techniques for saving time:
Managing our time and minimizing the interruptions inherent in ministry takes some effort. Applying some of these principles will help reduce your stress and relieve your guilt. Then ultimately, you will be less likely to be “living for interruptions.”