IN A REAL SENSE the minister is his own boss, especially in terms of the way his daily schedule is constructed and executed. This is a sacred trust. The servant of the Lord tells us: "The minister who has a due appreciation of service, regards himself as God's minuteman. When, with Isaiah, he hears the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' he responds, 'Here am I; send me.' He cannot say, I am my own; I will do what I please with my time."— Gospel Workers, p. 451.
Where does the minister learn how to schedule and regulate his time? Probably the Seminary has not provided all the answers in this regard. Conferences seem to assume that all workers know exactly what is expected of them and provide little orientation or assistance. And too often the worker who needs assistance in developing a practical and productive schedule feels very sensitive about inquiring of his "brethren" as to how they have been able success fully to balance their program. As a result there are many pastors who carry on a "hummingbird schedule," characterized by a lot of movement but little progress.
"There are some young men and women who have no method in doing their work. Though they are always busy, they can present but little results. They have erroneous ideas of work, and think that they are working hard, when if they had practiced method in their work, and applied themselves intelligently to what they had to do, they would have accomplished much more in a shorter time. By dallying over the less important matters, they find themselves hurried, perplexed, and confused when they are called upon to do those duties that are more essential. They are always doing, and, they think, working very hard; and yet there is little to show for their efforts."— Evangelism, p. 649.
The pastor soon learns that success is not always in direct proportion to the number of items one can check on his monthly report blank, nor the number of miles driven, but is clearly related to a vibrant, well-organized daily program. Each worker must learn to develop his own schedule! God counsels us on this matter.
"When a laborer is set in a certain portion of the Lord's vineyard, his work is given him as a faithful laborer together with God to work in that vineyard. He is not to wait to be told at every point by human minds what he must do, but plan his work to labor wherever he is needed. God has given you brain power to use. The wants of the believers and the necessities of unbelievers are to be carefully studied, and your labors are to meet their necessities. You are to inquire of God and not of any living man what you shall do."— Ibid., p. 650. (Italics supplied.)
The ministry is a "calling" and not a job or salaried position in which a denoted period of time belongs to your employer and the rest to yourself. "The eight-hour system finds no place in the pro gram of the minister of God. He must hold himself in readiness for service at any hour."— Gospel Workers, p. 451. There are no "after hours" for the minister.
Neither is our calling something we can turn off and on. Our calling and ordination set us aside as ministers of the Lord. "Not just for certain hours or places, but for ever and for all places."— James H. Blackmore, A Preacher's Temptation, p. 54.
There is no other vocation where a man has so many parts to play, so many hats to wear, so much information to be on top of, or is required to be so ever lastingly on the job.
The Daily Schedule
Because of this, the minister's daily schedule must be both dynamic and innovative. Even the best programs must be changed from district to district and also should be changed from time to time.
Many variables enter into and influence the daily schedule of each pastor. Among these are: the distance the minister lives from his parish; the number of churches in the district; the location of the church, urban or rural; the work schedule of the membership; whether or not the minister's wife works; whether the minister has to provide transportation for his children to and from church school; the availability of a second car in the minister's family.
Each pastor will have to tailor his daily schedule to meet his own circumstances. Suggestions that I have found helpful in doing so are:
1. You as a minister should have a well-organized personal life. This includes having regular hours for retiring and arising each day (see Evangelism, p. 651). A minister does not enhance his pro gram by earning the reputation of being a habitual late riser.
2. The first moments after awakening should be devoted to personal devotions to God. "Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work."— Steps to Christ, p. 70.
3. The morning hours before 10:00 are often not the best to plunge into your concentrated visitation program unless by request from a parishioner. Use this time for study, correspondence, prayer, sermon preparation, program organization, or making business contacts. Some hospital calls might also be scheduled in the hours be fore noon but experience indicates that it is best to visit in the after noon.
4. Plan your visits and day-by-day program before leaving home but build into it some flexibility for unexpected developments.
5. As far as possible try to have your meals on schedule even if you must carry a lunch or stop at a restaurant.
6. During the day remember to pray. "Ministers must take time to pray for themselves and for the people of God, whom they are appointed to serve."— Evangelism, p. 98.
7. To make your study more focused and your messages more spiritual and power-filled spend extra time on the days of planned evening meetings in studying the material to be presented. The press of duties during the day works to your disadvantage if it leaves you unprepared for your public presentations.
8. Try to group Bible studies on certain evenings so as not to stretch them out all during the week, keeping you unduly from valuable time with your family.
9. Use your daily schedule book supplied by the Pacific Press in organizing. Consult it daily, glancing a few days ahead each time to remember appointments.
10. The use of electronic telephone answering equipment to receive calls when busy or away from home is very helpful. This convenience will be appreciated by your members inasmuch as you will never miss a call.
11. Use calling cards with brief printed messages on the reverse side. Always leave one when members are not found at home or in their room if visiting the hospital.
12. Allow time for your family, but never give the impression that you are unavailable to the church at certain times. Routine calls for visits' can often be handled by making an appointment for an other time, but emergencies take priority over your personal program.
13. Allow time for exercise. Develop a physical fitness program for yourself. Include time for assisting in work that must be done around the home.
14. Schedule board and business meetings in advance and build these into your schedule, grouping them as far as possible on Sunday mornings or a week night.
15. During your study time ac quaint yourself with the literature and promotional material of each department. This will place you at an advantage when called upon to counsel with these departments.
16. As soon as possible after the election of new officers meet with them and instruct them in their duties and with your expectations. This will conserve the time that you will have to spend in answering their inquiries after wards. Reread the written departmental reports that are presented at the monthly board meetings; encourage departments when they are making progress. Gently prod them when their reports are "anemic."
17. Upon entering a district create an up-to-date membership file. Study the membership file information and get to know your members! Review this information before visiting and in your conversation indicate that you are concerned about each member. Mentioning the individual's past service, length of membership, et cetera, will greatly assist you in winning confidence and support.
18. Relate yourself to elderly members in a way that they can feel the church appreciates them. Their support can be a vital factor in the success of your program.
19. Use the information received on the blank attached to your church bulletin to arrange visits to members and nonmembers. The above suggestions may not be new to most of you. They can be incorporated into a suggested schedule as indicated below.