When everyone was celebrating the Independence Day this past July with friends and family over a cookout, I was in my office working all alone. It was Saturday and New Life closed the church office. But KSC had their Saturday Early Morning Prayer at 6:30 am as usual. Since I am a pastoral staff at both New Life and KSC, I needed to go there. One deacon shared his testimonial message. It was one of the best deacons’ messages ever. I was blessed.
After the prayer meeting, there was Deacons’ Meeting as usual at 7:45 am. Again, I needed to be there as a staff. There were about ten deacons present in the meeting who weren’t out of town. I praised and thanked God for these faithful servant-leaders who show up at church even on days like this because they love God and take their God-given ministry very seriously.
When the meeting ended, one deacon asked me if my wife and I were free for dinner that day. He wanted to take us out. But I had to decline because I had work to do. I truly wished I could spend some time with family and friends resting and relaxing on this Independence Day. But I just couldn’t.
In my opinion, pastors who are responsible for Sunday preaching on a regular basis can’t usually take two days off in a week to rest. I may be wrong about other pastors. But that is certainly true in my case. I know the amount of work that I need to do each week and that work takes me full five days. Tuesday is my off day. I often rest on that day by doing house chores, running errands, reading or going fishing. I don’t consider Sunday as my work day because it is a day of corporate worship and celebration for me even though I have to preach twice and lead RJM and baptize people once a month. It is all joy and gratitude.
Therefore, during the other five days, I have to get all my work done. But there is prayer to do, emails to send and respond, meetings to conduct and participate in, people to meet, ideas to come up with to write Pastor’s Desk and actually write it, events to think about and plan, classes to teach, wedding messages to prepare (btw, it takes more than two full days to write a wedding message because I have to read quite extensive homework assignments that bride and groom turn in to my wife who teaches Pre-marital Life Bible Study, choose a very appropriate passage from the Bible and come up with a personal and special message for the couple), and then Sunday message to prepare.
Sunday message preparation takes me about 15 hours every week. First, I need to read and meditate on the passage that I will be preaching on. Then, I figure out what the main point of the passage is and come up with a rough outline. After that, I read books and commentaries to study and see if I missed anything that is very significant. Then, I write out a sermon manuscript word for word. This is a quite exhaustive activity each week. And this message preparation is one of the main sources of stress that pastors encounter each week. And I am not an exception. Do I enjoy this? Not really! But I do it because it is my job!
That’s why taking one extra day off in addition to my regular off day during the week when I need to prepare and preach a sermon on top of doing all the regular weekly tasks is not easy. It is more stressful than restful.
There was no one in the church besides me this past Independence Day. It was very silent and quiet. It brought me back the memories of the early years of New Life when I was the only staff and worked all alone every Saturday. I thanked God for growing New Life to be where we are right now. We have grown from about 25 to more than 600 including children and youth. However, for some reason, I enjoyed that day’s stillness and quiet.
I guess I am an introvert.
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