by Stafford North
If you are considering whether to be a preacher, you may wonder how preachers spend their time. Do preachers just come to their office at 8 in the morning, take a coffee break at 10, take an hour off for lunch, and then go home at 5 in the afternoon? That question would bring a smile to anyone who has preached for very long. Preachers have a full and varied schedule. Let us imagine a week in the life of a preacher just to give some idea of how his week might go.
On Monday morning, the preacher arrives at his office about 8 a.m. He spends the first half-hour reviewing what happened on the previous Sunday. How did his sermons go? How might they have been better? What kind of response did he get? Was there someone who made a comment with whom he needs to follow up? Did someone respond to the invitation who now needs more attention?
After this the preacher spends another half-an-hour in prayer and Bible reading just for his personal spiritual life. Then he maps out his time for the week to be sure he gives attention to the most important things he needs to do. And, of course, he must check emails and tweets.
The rest of the day on Monday, he visits a couple of people in the hospital and works on his sermons for the following Sunday. He has earlier developed a three-month plan for his preaching, but now he must spend time in getting his two sermons ready. He studies the passages on which the lesson will be based, organizes the lesson, finds illustrations to make the message clear, and crafts the applications so the lesson will be practical.
After supper, the preacher gathers the family—his wife and two junior-high aged sons—for Bible study. They are reading through the book of Matthew. Each evening, they spend about twenty minutes reading and talking and praying. Sometimes they sing a song. Before they sing the song, however, they always study the words so the song can be truly meaningful.
Later on Monday night, the preacher has a private Bible study with a husband and wife who have recently visited services of the church and with whom he has followed up with a visit to their home. His wife goes with him for the study in the couple’s home.
On Tuesday, the preacher visits a couple of shut-ins of the congregation and works on the bulletin to be distributed on Sunday morning. He has secretarial help for the final typing, but writes the article for the front page and checks out coming events and reports of people who are ill and other personal items to include. Also on Tuesday, the preacher prepares his lesson for a class he teaches on Wednesday night. While he is studying the lesson, one of the retired members drops by to talk. He has to be delicate to give proper attention to this person while not letting him occupy too much of his time.
Wednesday is again devoted to preparing the sermons for Sunday. He also has a visit from someone who is having marriage trouble and from a parent whose son does not want to come to church. At noon on Wednesday, the preacher has lunch with the local Chamber of Commerce of which he is a member. This connection allows him to know some local leaders and to be known by them.
Wednesday night, of course, is for mid-week services when the preacher teaches a class and associates with members of the church.
Thursday is the preacher’s day off and on that day he sometimes plays golf with local people with whom he is developing a relationship. He also uses Thursdays to read, do things around the house, and to spend time with his wife. They often go out for dinner just to have a little time for themselves.
On Thursday night, the preacher gets a call from one of the members telling him his teen-aged son has been hurt in a car accident. The preacher drops what he is doing and goes immediately to the hospital. There he finds the father, mother, an older brother, and several family friends waiting to hear the outcome of surgery. He knows this is a serious situation and handles it delicately. He speaks to the parents and lets them tell him what has happened to their son and what have they learned about his condition. After showing his concern, he gathers those present in a circle and leads a prayer. Then he sits for a while with the group until a doctor comes to give a report to the family. The surgery has gone well but the young man will be in the hospital for a few days to recover. It is after 10 p.m. when he gets home.
On Friday, the preacher has several meetings. One is with an elder who is visiting about a member who seems to be falling away. Another meeting is with a deacon who is in charge of the education program and wants to discuss the theme for Bible classes in the next two quarters. Also on Friday, the preacher goes back to the hospital to see how the teen-ager is doing and to give attention to the family. On Friday afternoon, the preacher gets a call to tell him that one of the elderly members of the church has passed away. He goes to visit the family and learns that they want him to speak at the funeral service. He spends about an hour with the family asking them about the life of the one who has died. As they reminisce, they have a good time remembering both happy times and sad but the preacher knows that such a time is not only helping him know things to say at the funeral, but is also good therapy for the family. The funeral will be on Monday afternoon.
On Saturday morning, early, the preacher goes back to the church building. He goes to the auditorium and stands in the pulpit and practices delivering his Sunday morning sermon. He wants to get it well in mind so he can speak it without being tied to his notes. He also wants to be able to think of how best to deliver some of the key parts such as the introduction and conclusion and some of the illustrations.
Back home by mid-morning, he has some things planned for the family. He takes them to the zoo where he and his wife and two sons have a great time together and he has the chance to work in a few things about God’s marvelous creation.
During the afternoon, the preacher does some reading and work in the yard. That evening, the family watches a movie together and then they talk about what lessons they learn. After the kids have gone to bed, the preacher and his wife discuss the week that has passed and things coming up the next week.
Sunday, of course, is filled with preaching two sermons and a meeting of the elders in the afternoon. But it has been a good week. The preacher has taught the Bible to many through sermons, classes, and Bible studies. He has strengthened a family who has lost a loved one and a family whose son was injured. He has helped others in the church with their work and he has made community ties. He has studied and read and developed his own spiritual life. And he gave attention to his wife and sons.
All in all a pretty good week in the life of a preacher.