Most bivocational ministers struggle with time issues in their lives. They have so many demands on them that they seldom feel they devote sufficient time to anything. Many tell me they fail to spend sufficient time with their families, and even more do not take time for themselves. As a result, these pastors are subject to breakdowns in their family lives and in their own well-being. The call to bivocational ministry is a special call of God on a person's life, but it is never a call that is expected to do harm to your family or to your personal well-being.
Years ago I lived by the philosophy that I would rather burn out than rust out. That is really a stupid philosophy! Either way I would be out. Well...I got my wish and burned out. I was diagnosed as clinically depressed and spent a year on medication and in Christian counseling trying to put my life back together again. I learned many valuable lessons during that year, and one of them was that if we do not take care of ourselves we may become unable to care for others. I was burning the candle at both ends, but I was the one who ended up consumed. I had to find a better way to live and to fulfill the many responsibilities I had. One of the areas I needed to address was how I managed my time.
I now teach a class in our region's Church Leadership Institute to help our church leaders balance out the various areas of responsibility in their lives. One of their assignments is to track everything they do in half-hour increments for one week. Every student complains when the assignment is handed out, but they all learn important things about their lives. One of the first things many of them learn is that they spend a lot of time doing things that really do not add value to their lives. When they write their papers about what they learned from the exercise many of them express surprise at how much time they would have available if they simply made better use of their time.
Someone once wrote that time management is really life management. If we find that we do not have the time for the truly important things in life it may be an indication that we need to better manage our lives. The problem probably isn't that we don't have sufficient time; the problem is more likely that we are not using the time we have to its greatest advantage. Rather that investing our time in those things that will help us accomplish our goals and improve our relationships we spend too much doing the less important things.
I would encourage you to write down everything you do for one week. Break it down in half-hour segments. When the week is up review your activities for the week. How much time was spent doing meaningful things with your family? How much time was given to your own personal well-being? How much time was given to your personal spiritual development? How many hours each week was spent in tasks that would help you achieve the goals you've established for this year? How many hours that week do you wish you could have back so you could use them in other endeavors? What will you do different next week?
Jesus taught us to redeem the time. That begins by first understanding how we are currently using the time we've been given and then making the necessary adjustments to make better use of that time.