How To Schedule Your Week as a Senior Pastor
As a senior pastor, your work schedule is unlike most. While you might enjoy more flexibility in your calendar and diversity in your to-do’s than a typical 9-5 gig, you also face unique challenges and uncharacteristic demands. Creating a schedule that allows for deep productivity, meaningful pastoring, and sufficient rest is a puzzle that takes trial and error to figure out. While everyone is different, here are some tips for building out a weekly schedule that works with your energy, for the health of your congregation and for the glory of God:
Define your work week.
Thanks to the Sunday morning experiences, a senior pastor’s work week isn’t Monday to Friday. This introduces the question of when to take your day off. Many pastors will rest on Monday in order to recover from Sunday. Others will take off Friday, to give themselves a “weekend” to rest before Sunday. Regardless of when you choose to take your day off, rest is of utmost importance. You can’t give out of an empty tank. If you haven’t already, experiment with when to take your day off and see if you notice a difference in your refreshment and productivity.
Determine your priorities.
Week to week, your schedule might consist of counseling appointments, staff meetings, writing, and more. Fitting in time for ever-shifting demands can feel overwhelming. Add structure to your schedule by scheduling in and protecting time for your biggest consistent priorities. For example, every week, you need to write a sermon. This, after the Sunday morning experience, is probably your biggest priority. Put this first in your schedule sometime early in your work week and when you naturally have the most energy. If you’re an afternoon creative and your work week starts Tuesday, block off Tuesday afternoons to knock out that sermon. This gives you time to let the work sit and revisit it later in the week for final revisions and reflection so you aren’t scrambling to finish it Saturday evening.
When you protect time for your most important tasks and work, you can fill in what’s remaining with the meetings, coffee hours, and counseling that might be changing from week to week. It’s a great idea to schedule in work time the way we schedule in work interruptions so we can be sure to give the proper time and focus to tasks that need completing.
Delegate whenever possible.
As a senior pastor, your role goes so far beyond just teaching on Sunday mornings. You’re a leader and mentor in your community. Sometimes, we don’t have time for everything. I want to challenge you to build delegation into your schedule long term. Do you have guest speakers planned on a regular basis? Do you actively delegate managerial tasks to your staff? Do you say no to meetings that you don’t need to be a part of? It can be hard to let go of managing all the little details, but an essential part of being a good leader is being a good delegator. The more you can prioritize the items only you as a senior pastor can take on and allow your team to do what they do best, the more your church will thrive.
Senior pastors, thank you for listening to God’s calling on your life and giving so much to your church and our communities. We pray that you find a way to schedule your days that feels productive, life-giving, and laden with holy rest.
About the Author
Emma Tarp is a writer and worship leader based in Minneapolis, MN. On her best days, she's highlighter-deep in a good book or teaching herself to sew. On her other best days, she's helping passionate folks and inspired businesses put words to their work. Find out more at emmatarp.com.