On one of my Facebook groups for pastors, another pastor posted this question, “What is everyone doing with their extra time?” My first reaction was the same as about ninety-five percent of the pastors, “What extra time?” Almost everyone agreed that they are working more now, since the shutdown, than before. Many of them began to detail their work so that people could see what was filling their time. I thought that might not be a bad idea for everyone to see. So this is how I am filling my time during this unusual season.
- Praying. I am trying to take extra time to pray for our Church, its leadership, and its members.
- Planning. With every setback, I not only have to cancel events, but some of them need to be rescheduled. Sermon series and lessons need to be adjusted for better timing. My plans for the fall are changing since we are losing much of the spring.
- Communication. The staff and leadership are trying to communicate through emails, Facebook, and the website. Each decision also comes with a series of phone calls and texts with people both before and after it is made.
- Personal Contact. In a typical week, I receive and handle about 50 texts in 7 days. Recently that number has increased to about 250. People are texting me, and we get going back and forth. I am contacting people and trying to stay connected to our Church. This has taken way more time than I imagine. Also, until this week, when I will be working at home, people have been stopping by the Church one by one and talking to me. People are lonely and need a break, so they have popped in, and I enjoy some time with them.
- Preaching. I am still spending the same amount of time planning, researching, and writing sermons. But now, I have added a couple of hours on Thursday night to record it.
- Podcast. Back in December, Hannah Newkirk and I were talking about podcasting. We decided to do it together since we both have very different perspectives on so many things. With people being asked to stay at home, we decided to keep doing this every week for people to have another tool to grow spiritually.
- Blog. I keep writing and working on this, but I have had to adjust my plans of regular posts to things that are more helpful during the virus.
- Family. My boys have been home while trying to figure out their next steps with college. Their classes have gone online, they have been shut out of dorms, and job situations have changed. I have tried to take advantage of this rare opportunity to see them. Also, I committed to calling my mother every day or at least every other day. She is 84 and at risk during this time and has not left the house in three weeks. I know she is lonely, and I love the conversations with her.
- Odd jobs. There are things to do like change the church sign, water plants, handle any trash, and a hundred little things that need to be done.
- Learning. Each day I am receiving about 50 emails telling me what other churches are doing during this time, offering ideas and resources to help, providing articles, and linking to podcasts to give me direction. No Pastor has been through anything like this, and we are all trying to help each other.
I want you to know that this has not been vacation time for most pastors. Instead, it is a time filled with uncertainty, learning, and work. My days are full, but my life is blessed. The first two weeks have flown by, and the month of April will be a blur. Pastors appreciate your prayers as we prepare for what will spiritually happen through this time. May God use it and me for his glory.