[Repost from April 16, 2009]
If you don’t train your church what boundaries are appropriate, you likely won’t have many.
If you are the senior pastor, you can set the tone publicly.
I’d suggest a few of the following:
- Publicly communicate when your day off is. Talk about how important that day is to your family.
- At appropriate times, explain the challenges of your schedule. Some people think you only work on Sundays. Explaining some of what you face will create understanding.
- Create some level of screening if possible. Even if you are a solo pastor with no staff, a volunteer could help you with your email or answer phones. Many things you do daily can be handled by capable volunteers. You don’t need to know and do everything.
- Be willing to “go dark” at least once a year. You might explain to the church that you’ll be away with your family and not taking calls for a week. Ask your lay leader to be in charge. I’d suggest you give a phone number to one person who has permission to contact you with only dire emergencies. You need at least one week a year to disconnect.
- Don’t feel pressure to reply to emails instantly. I like all emails returned, won’t be slave to them.
- Protect at least one night a week for dates or family nights. Explain that Monday or Thursday or whatever is the one night you protect. When someone asks for counseling or a wedding rehearsal on that night, don’t do it.
- Be willing to say “no.” As a pastor who loves people, you’ll say “yes” to many invitations. Don’t be afraid to occasionally or often say “no.” Don’t feel pressure to give an explanation. A simple, “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t make it” is enough.
Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Set the boundaries that will help you go the distance.
What are your thoughts?