This isn’t a post about productivity or generic work-from-home tips. It’s specifically for pastors who suddenly find themselves working 100% from home.
Here are some pastor-specific ideas about working from home in these days.
First, it’s important to use our time well, wisely, but I would suggest using it in a different manner than we have. If you’ve been a driven, running on the redline, high producer, workaholic type, slow down. If you’ve in the past been a slacker, wasting a lot of your ministry work week doing administrivia or low value time wasting tasks, become more rigorous about tracking how much you are working and what you are doing. Times of transition are excellent opportunities to implement lasting change, and these days in the spring and early summer of 2020 are in that sense a gift.
Tied to that, secondly, use this time to do some intentional learning. Take a course, read some more books, get on some webinars- there are a ton of them being offered for free right now. Use this time to “sharpen the saw” in Stephen Covey’s words. Ideally read things and learn about things you have not already been immersed in. For instance if you are leadership junkie, read some Eugene Peterson. If you are an introspective capital S shepherding type, do some work on governance and organizational theory. Break your normal pattern of information intake.
Third, this is a perfect time to have some unrushed calls, video or phone, with people on your ministry team or in your congregation. A few months ago, these kinds of calls would be an inconvenience to many people, but I’ve noticed that now, it’s a welcome interruption from the long days at home. People are so grateful for the contact and willing to engage at a deeper level.
Fourth, get spiritual. What I mean is this: how about starting a new pattern of intercession for your people and ministry? Or how about having some unrushed times of personal worship, non-utilitarian prayer, where you’re not asking for a whole lot but simply focusing on the Lord? This morning I listened to that old song “In the Secret, in the quiet place” which has the refrain “I want to know you, I want to hear your voice, I want to know you more.” Not a bad place to intentionally park for a portion of each day.
Fifth, an extension of that would be to plan a personal retreat. Sure, you might have to do it right where you are, but you can perhaps incorporate a walk or a drive. But the value will come when you take some time to plan it out. I’ve put together a little retreat planning template you can download from my site.
Sixth, going deeper, this can be a time of reconsecration, where you revisit your calling and commitment and decide to keep going with fresh passion, fighting the fight, running the race, keeping the faith. Perhaps like the church in Ephesus you need to “go back and do the things you did at first” because you’ve lost your first love. Maybe you need to “re-dig the wells” that have been filled in over time. Robert Murray McCheyne, who I quoted in a recent post regarding his burnout, once said “My people’s greatest need…is my personal holiness.” This can be a season of growing in personal holiness, set-apartness, Christ-likeness.
Let me land there. Perhaps the goal for this season should simply be to become more like Jesus.
What would happen if, when things settle down and we are able to meet together with our people, our congregations were confronted with a wave of pastors who were markedly more like the Lord? What if we were more accurate representatives of his Gospel, more faithful communicators of the Word, more Kingdom-minded, less self-centered, more filled with the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control? What if we were more captivated by the One who loved us and gave Himself for us?
Well, that might create a bit of a crisis! But the right kind of crisis. The kind our people need, the kind our world is starving for, the kind for which our Lord rose to make possible.
Wisdom and grace to you in these days. God bless and Press On!