One day while doing some research online I stumbled onto the website of the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The multitude of research was so compelling I decided not to waste the trip so I wandered around and came upon this study which was part of an economic news release.
"Time spent in primary activities for the civilian population 18 years and over by employment status, presence and age of youngest household child, and sex, 2013 annual averages"
If you are interested in knowing how much time Americans spend in primary activities, this is a trove of information. It will probably come as no surprise that employed Americans, age 18 years and over, spend the single highest amount of time each day (8.33 hours) sleeping. The second highest concentration of time is working at 5.19 hours per day or 36.33 hours per week. Watching TV came in a distant third at 12.95 hours per week. Just so you know, religious and spiritual activities totaled 50.4 minutes each week.
If we spend most of our time at work what do we want to experience or gain other than a paycheck? What is it beyond the paycheck that we seek from the work our hands find to do? Pastors are no different. They want to find meaning in the work God has called them to. The ministry is a calling from God, but, it is also a vocation and a job. The Articles of Faith describe the duties of the call.
"By the very nature of his calling the minister is to faithfully preach the Word, to have general superintendence of the church, to be an example to the flock, to visit the members—especially the sick—as he has opportunity, to serve as counselor, to serve as teacher—especially in a program of Christian education, to administer the ordinances of the gospel, to do all within his power to promote the spiritual interest of the church which he serves, and to advance the cause of Christ among men."
Everybody has a job to do but when we exchange our most valuable commodity—time—for a paycheck, there has to be more than money involved. There are parallels between the secular and the spiritual and we will draw from these to help show you how working together with your pastor, you as a church member, can increase your spiritual activities beyond 50.4 minutes a week while helping the pastor fulfill God’s calling.
I have drawn from articles written by Rick Conlow, the CEO of WCW Partners and Joe Phelps of the Phelps Group. In their writings these individuals address what people want to experience in their secular work. Upon review it became clear that the secular and the spiritual shared many similarities. We have attempted to apply this to the church, its members, and the pastor.
• Clear Expectations and Goals: Most employees need to know what is expected of them. Given sufficient direction and freedom most employees can do good work. The pastor often lacks clear direction and his goals are defined by ever how many members are in the church. Everybody has an idea of what they want a pastor to be. What do you want your pastor to accomplish? We often define the role in broad terms such as growth, additional programs, and financial success.
It is time to take this broad vision and determine what part you are willing to participate in? Don’t create expectations that you are not willing to help accomplish. It is your church—work together.
• Respect: Miriam Webster Online Dictionary defines respect as “a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.” One of the articles stated that 80% of employees don’t get respect on the job. Often they don’t feel their work is appreciated or their opinion is valued. Respect doesn’t show on the line of a paycheck, and it is not an award that hangs on the wall, but the value of mutual respect is immeasurable and creates a bond by which great things are accomplished on the job and in your church.
• Recognition and Praise: The better people and pastors feel about what they do the more they want to do. Mark Twain once said that he could live for two months on a good compliment. Recognize progress, a job well done, or a good sermon.
• Meaningful Work: The church is uniquely placed within the community to provide people and pastors the opportunity to do meaningful things that have eternal consequences. Trading time to achieve something worthwhile is always a good investment. Everything the church does touches people in a positive or negative way. A church actively involved in ministry to others will always have a future. Remember, the pastor can’t do it alone.
• Responsibility and Accountability: This may come as a surprise but I’ve never met a pastor that didn’t want to be great! They want to be great preachers, leaders, and soul winners. How many churches don’t want a great pastor? I’ve never seen a pastor search committee looking for a poor pastor. No one should ever want to be mediocre and this goes for church members as well. Are you willing to assume responsibility for your pastor’s success? Make yourself accountable for your church and pastor’s success. A pastor can only rise as high as the members will raise him up. God has called both of you to serve Him together. Be responsible for one another and take ownership in the failures and successes of your pastor and church.
• The chance to work with interesting, motivated, responsible people: Isn’t it great to go to work and find people like yourself who do exciting things in their free time and actually have lives that aren’t boring and mundane? People who are motivated to do things different and try new ideas are a valuable resource on the job and in the church. Church members often have good ideas they want others to carry out. Unwilling to roll up their sleeves and go to work they prefer to stand on the sidelines and give direction about how others are doing it all wrong. Successful churches have members that are willing to put themselves out there and regardless of the outcome they strive mightily to bring about change and success. When your pastor looks out over the congregation does he see interesting, motivated, and responsible people? Why not?
• Achievement: People want to succeed and this includes your pastor. However, there are obstacles to success. Are you one of them? Probably not, but are you helping to remove the obstacles that prevent the success of your church? Not if you are spending 50.4 minutes per week in spiritual pursuits.
If you make the success of your church and your pastor your responsibility you will grow spiritually and your church can’t help but grow, as well.
The Minister’s Program exists to promote and advocate for the ministers in our Convention. This is Minister’s Program Month and October 12, 2014 is Pastor Appreciation Sunday. Please consider the following:
• Be like Peter when Jesus spoke and said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).