By Pastor Scott Willet (September 2018)
If I am asked how I spend my time, I give a simple and easy answer. It is the same answer to the question of what I like most about the work of being a pastor—that I spend my time, almost half and half, divided between those things I would call pastoral shepherding and those things I would call study and office work. In other words, half my time is spent with people, in the public ministry of teaching as well as the private and personal ministry that takes place house to house (Acts 20:20). The other half of my time is spent in my office, both in terms of sermon preparation and the more routine duties of administrative work.
I find that balance of time very well suited to my interests, strengths, and personality. There are some days I really prefer the solitude of my office. By nature, I am an introvert. I enjoy the hours of study necessary for the variety of times each week when I am teaching. I even enjoy the hours needed for administrative tasks like bulletin preparation, newsletter production, and website maintenance. I would go crazy, however, if that were all I did. There are many days when I simply do not want to be sitting alone at a desk, and the fruitfulness of my personal, pastoral labors has been a source of great encouragement and energy since the day I arrived in Mount Airy 2-1/2 years ago. There are always people to see and visits to be made. Thankfully, they have all been well received.
I also like the freedom and flexibility to arrange my schedule according to my own personal and family needs. It’s been a number of years since I specifically counted and averaged the hours I “work” each week, but I know it is in excess of the typical 40 hour professional work week. That workload is, however, always tempered by the opportunity afforded me to spend my hours, for the most part, when I choose. So I can “schedule” in family activities. I can make myself more available when my children are in town. I can spend time with my wife when it’s most convenient for us both. I can enjoy down time whenever I want, and whenever I need to do so. And with my office over my garage next to my home, my commute time is ideal—zero! Indeed, I can walk over to my office in my slippers in the morning and can engage in some additional work later in the evening when other activities have ended for the day. Thus, despite the sometimes long hours and occasional stressfulness of some personal interactions, I can manage myself and my time in a way that keeps me healthy, engaged, and refreshed. In that context, it was no surprise to me that one of the most difficult things about the job I worked for the year before coming to Mount Airy was the rigid 8 to 5, Monday to Friday routine imposed upon me. Though fewer in hours, that scheduled caused greater hardship for me than the typical week I have always “worked” as a pastor.
To give you a brief sense of my week, I do take Mondays “off.” That is to say, unless there are matters of emergency, I do no church “work” on Monday. Typically, unless I have occasion to visit one or more of my children in Georgia, that means I engage in the physical labor of the various home improvement and renovation projects I rather ambitiously took on when we bought our home a year ago. The physical labor of actually designing and building things (or, for that matter, tearing something apart!) is something I also enjoy, both in the creative satisfaction of building projects and in the physical exertion required. I enjoy working to exhaustion on those days off, and I am sure that exercise is beneficial to my health as well.
My normal “work week” varies somewhat, depending on extraordinary meetings or out-of-town obligations, but while my mornings are typically devoted to office work, I am often or even usually out and about visiting and meeting with people from the lunch hour through the afternoon. Early in the week I tend to focus on office administrative tasks and later in the week the obligations of sermon preparation become the priority. Now that my children are out of the home, evenings are more free for work related obligations, and Tuesday is typically my evening I am free to visit. Wednesday, of course, finds me leading the church-wide Bible study at the Kaye’s house and Thursday evenings of late have been devoted to a youth and young adult Bible study that meets most weeks at the Shields’ home. Friday nights I generally keep free, often for a night out on a date with Sharon. And Saturday night is a time to finish everything that needs to get finished before Sunday. On a good week, I have a lot of time of Saturday for other things, but on a busy week, I measure success simply by managing to complete everything that needs to get done in preparation for Sunday.
I am also willing, even eager, to remain accessible to all of you. There are times when I don’t answer phone calls, but I will always respond as soon as possible. Please don’t think you are intruding if you leave me a message, or send me an email or text. The tools we have these days for communication are extremely helpful, and I certainly wish to take full advantage of those tools. They are also a protection, so that if I just sat down to dinner my voicemail can handle whatever calls come in, and if I am benefitting from some down time or time devoted to my family, a text message can create a helpful reminder for something I need to look into as soon as I return to “work.” I appreciate your thoughtfulness in wanting me to have that sense of privacy as well.
All of that is to say, please pray for my discipline and organization in the use of my time. I seldom really feel like I am at full efficiency, even as my pastoral labors sometime require, by definition, the flexibility to devote extended amounts of time to personal matters that rise in priority in the lives of different people in our church. So seldom is a “typical” week really “typical” at all. Seldom does a week pass by when nothing of an extraordinary nature intrudes. But I’m thankful for the flexibility afforded me to engage in this work on a full-time basis. I’m thankful for the health and energy to pursue the work to which the Lord has called me. And I’m always been thankful to the saints here at Covenant who have received my ministry so willingly and appreciatively. I am very thankful for the Lord’s blessing upon that labor.
Please pray also for my mind, as I study and prepare for the teaching I do each week. And pray for my strength, that God would continue to equip me for the work of ministry despite every evidence of my own human frailty.