How Should Pastors Balance Their Time?

January 14, 2012 Mario Villella


This article will serve as a good follow-up to the sermon last week. If you missed it, you can listen to it here. If you didn’t miss it, some of the concepts in this article may sound familiar to you. Basically, I want to give you a heads up on some of the thoughts I have recently been having about the role of a pastor.

This article is by me and “Randy Pope,”. Why you might ask? Because this article is going to consist primarily of quotes or paraphrases from him. (Pope is the pastor of Perimeter Church in Atlanta, GA.) And because the main idea presented in this article is his idea. I read it in his book, “Intentional Church.” I liked it, and thought that I should share it with you. So, here we go.

Randy Pope says this: “Consider an imaginary church of at least one hundred members. One hundred members can actually represent hundreds of people whose problems could ultimately necessitate the time of the pastor. For instance, if a member’s parent in another state is diagnosed with cancer, the member now has a problem. If a member’s next-door neighbor is depressed and needs pastoral help, or is going through a divorce and needs counsel, the pastor is most likely to be asked to respond. All of a sudden, this church of one hundred members represents hundreds of people who may need the pastor on a given day. And the larger the church, the more accentuated the problem.”

Next, Pope uses this chart. Well, I altered it slightly, but this is very similar to the chart he uses. He says that a pastor’s use of time (represented by the large circle in each figure) usually breaks down into three categories:

  1. P = Pastoral Care (trying to directly help people with their needs)
  2. L = Leading and Equipping (teaching other people what they should know and do, and leading/equipping them to directly help people with their needs)
  3. The Small Circle = represents the pastor’s personal time (family time, personal worship, leisure, exercise, sleep, etc.)

The first figure represents the pastor who spends most of his time directly meeting people’s needs, which causes him to spend less time leading and equipping others.

The second figure represents the pastor who spends almost all of his time on both meeting people’s needs and leading the church. In this case, he is able to do it by pushing his personal life aside. (This is fairly common as many pastors fill their entire lives up with church stuff and end up losing their families as a result.)

The third figure represents the pastor who spends most of his time leading and equipping others, which causes him to spend less time directly meeting needs, and therefore still has personal activities included in his schedule. Well, as you may have guessed, Pope strongly suggests that pastors balance their life according to figure three.

Figure #1 isn’t good for the church, because the church is limited in its effectiveness. The number of needs that can be met is determined by the number of needs that one man can personally meet. Figure #2 is bad for both the pastor and the church, because it could destroy the pastor’s family. In fact, Pope humorously notes, “The same [church people] who would bite me if I didn’t meet their need upon request are the very ones who would say, if my child rebelled, ‘If anyone should model the family, it’s the pastor. He should have spent more time with his children.’”

The use of time depicted in figure #3 is considered the best because it brings about a healthy life balance for both the church and pastor, while contributing to the cause of people’s needs being met. But the primary way that people’s needs are met, is that they are met by lots of different people who have been taught and/or led by their pastor to be equipped to meet those needs.

I believe there is much wisdom in Randy Pope’s perspective. And the reason that I wanted to share this with you, is because I plan on taking his advice. Therefore, I wanted you to know how this will affect Good News Church.

The way it will affect us is that I will be asking all of you who consider Good News to be “your” church, to help me to care for and reach out to the people of Marion County. I will not attempt to do everything on my own, but will be treating you all like teammates, so that we can all make a difference in this county, for the sake of the gospel, together! My hope and prayer is that I will be the man, husband, and father that I am called to be, while helping as many people as I can and should, while teaching, leading, and equipping you to do the same.

Just figured you should know.

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Mario Villella

Lead Pastor & Elder

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