“Stop trying to be everything to everyone and just be.”
One of the unique insights ministers have into the Pandemic world is that we’ve always lived in a world of blurred boundaries. Our spouses sit on boards we oversee, our children are in classes we teach. Our sermons often feature events from our real lives as our narrative inspiration. You remember “bring your child to work day”? We call that Sunday. Every Sunday.
And we tend to make our own hours. 9a-5p on the weekends is the time where we are least busy. You cannot hold meetings, youth group, bible studies, and counseling sessions with people who are at work and school. But so often that is when the church office is open and you gotta be there because someone might walk in.
I know pastors who work 80, 90, even 100 hour weeks and others who barely put in 30; ministry work never has to end if you don’t let it.
But now we are in a world of blurred boundaries.
Kids do public school from their kitchen table; mom converted the basement into an office and sits down there every day on zoom and her email. Dad stopped traveling for business altogether and feels like he has to make up for those hours or risk being expendable. All of us now struggle to do what pastors have been struggling to do for the last century; establish boundaries.
So I give you the best advice I ever got: the rule of thirds. Every day you have three sections to your day. 8-12, 12-4, and 4-8. You never get to work more than two in a day or more than eleven in a week.
What will happen?
First, you’ll become more efficient. You USED to do it in less time. It’s not you that’s changed, it’s your boundaries. Parkinson’s law is a principal in business administration that says work will always expand to fit the time devoted to it. What happens when the lines get blurred between work and home? Your work consumes ALL your time.
Second, you’ll start to realize your missing out on rest and rejuvenation. Don’t think you’re a person who needs it? Well then you think you’re better than God. Even God rests.
Third, you begin to remember those things that you’ve been missing. Some of them might still be out of reach (going to the movies, vacations away, dinners out etc.) but those hours can still be reclaimed for movies in your living room, stay-cations, and takeout in the backyard.
Do these and perhaps you’ll realize, the pandemics not the only thing that’s got you stressed. It’s your lack of boundaries.