Monday, April 23, 2012

House of Breakfast

So I have very few protected times in my schedule. Honestly, I live my life giving people/work a lot of accessibility. Maybe too much. I often allow people [read: "my ministry"] to dictate my schedule.

"Hey Paul, I need to meet with you but I can only meet [lists times]."

I look at my calendar. I have sermon writing time scheduled then. I move my sermon prep time to accommodate that person.

"Hey Paul, we have this conference/district pastors' meeting on Monday. It is the best time for us to meet."

I don't need to look at my calendar. I know it is supposed to be my day off. Interesting: a lot of district and conference meetings are set on Mondays. Why? Because they know that pastors are often free those days. It's often a day off for pastors -- so they schedule meetings then. Yes, that is really sick if you think about it. Way to build health into your leaders!

These accommodations may not seem like a big deal for most people, but what it means for me is that I often don't take a full day off. Or I'm often writing at home-- sometimes really late/very early hours of the morning to get some alone time. Or work cuts into family time, or time with my wife.

And for some reason I allow this to happen.

As a pastor I allow others to dictate my schedule. It seems more servant like. You know; holy... to be accessible to everyone at any time.

Well, except for Saturday mornings.

Saturday between 9 and 12 is sacred to me. They are the most protected 3 hours of my week other than our actual weekend worship/gathering times. On rare occasions I have allowed those Saturday morning hours to be intruded on -- a membership class twice a year or an occasional conference meeting. But it's rare. I've said "no" to a lot of great opportunities because they conflict with Saturday mornings.

What is so special about Saturday mornings?

I have a standing date with my daughter at the "House of Breakfast."

I've written about this a lot in the past, so I'm not going to belabor the point. But that time is holy to me. The long walk there and back, holding hands. Reading at the table (currently "Prince Caspian"). Sharing a meal with just the two of us. No hurry. No distractions.

Those moments feed my soul.

I'm writing this because I just found out that my wife scheduled some piano thing for Lydia on a Saturday and she didn't check the time... it's during our holy time. And I'm mad. Really angry. Not at Laura necessarily -- but that my soul will shrink a bit on Saturday missing that time. And it makes me really sad.

I want to establish more routines into my life that feed my soul: dinners with friends, game nights, date nights, trips with my daughter. Which means I have to do less of some things. I just don't know what those things are yet. But something has to go. Somehow I need to free up more time for living beyond my role as pastor. And my role as pastor has to become more defined.


Daniel said...

Wow, this is powerful. It also kindles in me a very great sense of pain and guilt and love, because you gave me so much. Your time, your hugs, your sympathy, your understanding. I didn't have too much to offer back. I took some very precious time from you when you could have been doing something more to your liking. I pray for you often and I thank you for a debt that I cannot repay. I also hope that you find the balance that you are looking for.

paul said...

Well, the reason I almost didn't post this was because I NEVER want people to feel that way. I WANT to be accessible. I LOVE to pour into people what I can. And often it is very mutual. But what I'm sensing is if I don't figure this out I'm not going to do the next 20 years as well as the first.

And you "get" at a point that is important as I process this -- it's not that I don't want to be with the people I am with -- or even be as accessible. But I feel that my accessibility is making me LESS effective in some way -- both in ministry and with family.

And for the record... our relationship started one sided -- I felt called to comfort and build up and "help" you work through a very hard part of your life. But it wasn't very long that the relationship felt very mutual. You gave me back a lot. You were very much "to my liking" and honestly, when you moved, I grieved quite a bit.

Your final sentence hits on it. I'm seeking a balance. But maybe there isn't one. Was Jesus balanced? Who knows?

mdog said...

remember: central doesn't need you. and i say that in the most supportive, thought-ful way possible. [of course, you're not allowed to leave... ever... but that's beside the point]. what is expected of you, and what YOU expect of you, are not necessarily the same things.

and of course, if you ever need help learning how to say no, i've practically perfected it. lessons are free.

i'm tempted to get every non-clergy church staffer in the conference/district to write letters to the main offices, telling them how monumentally stupid it is to schedule pastor meetings on mondays. hmmm.