I am aware that exposing my routine activities to my readers (both of them) opens me up to scrutiny. I’m also aware that this is viewable as well by any members of the general public who may stumble across this while searching for an actual blog. Nevertheless, I hope to answer the question that I’m sometimes asked when I tell people that I stay busy. That is, of course, the inevitable follow-up question many other pastors get too - the question “With what?!”
I am supported by a few different things to stay afloat. There are several gracious and kind churches and individuals of like faith that back our ministry, for which I am very grateful. The church I pastor also helps support us. As wonderful as all of that is, it only partly supports us. If I don’t do additional work, we would go “belly up” in a hurry. I suppose I could have spent four years raising full support, but honestly, that would not have been a realistic goal. Also, doing “other work” actually provides many more contacts in the community that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I wear many hats
For the rest of our means, allow me to give you an example… from today in fact. Today I filled a Graphic Design order for another church (I design church materials). I started making a screen for a t-shirt screen printing order for a Heart-Walk team (I operate a screen-printing press). I spent two hours at the church finishing a door install (as Pastor I am also the jack-of-all-trades). I spent some time on the phone with an elderly church member about some needs of theirs. I provided x-ray guidance for surgeons during six cases at a local surgical center (I am Radiologic technologist). I consulted with a client on a custom furniture project (I make things and sell them online).
All in all, I “wore” five “hats” today. This is how I make ends meet. The Lord doesn’t give me the rest of my income from nowhere. He gives me work, and I gratefully accept it and enjoy it.
My heart, of course, is in the ministry. It’s what I do more than those other things. I would stop designing materials, making things, and irradiating patients if I could. Ministry is the one vocation that even whilst I’m doing other vocations, I’m still in it. Ministry is a cross-vocational vocation.
I try to keep a routine
My days always begin at 6:00 am sharp. I have a morning routine that always includes lower back and hamstring stretches, two glasses of water, personal devotional time and much prayer, email-inbox-zero, checking my calendar, checking the forecast, studying, reading, writing, and a few other things. This all usually takes me a couple of hours, but it varies. I like to be able to finish studying something when I just don’t feel like stopping. Two days in the week I train for an hour in Krav Maga. I also usually do another two to three hours per week of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Also, two hours of weight training per week. One afternoon per week, I record a podcast with my friend, Pastor Daniel Fox.
I also maintain church office hours on some afternoons to study more, make follow-up calls, design the next bulk mailing, or write Bible study handouts. I try to keep those hours flexible because I sometimes need to make visits or run random church errands or do things at home that need my attention. I try to be rigid enough with my schedule to not get overwhelmed with too much, but not so rigid that nothing unplanned can fit in.
I use a task manager app which I live by throughout the day so I don’t have to keep tasks in my head. I also use an editorial calendar for sermon preparation so that I work on them each day rather than cramming on Saturday.
I plan times to stop
I usually stop most of my work by dinner time, around 6:00 pm-7: 00 pm. After dinner is when we have our family devotions and Bible reading, family scripture memory, and prayer. Then we spend time in the living room each reading something different, frequently looking up to comment to each other about something we feel like talking about. I am usually reading for preparing messages, but it’s more like “relaxed study” by the evening. It’s my favorite part of the day.
The only exception to evenings at home is when I’m running Discipleship Bible Studies at church. I open these up every few months on a first-come-first-served basis. Couples or families who opt for this meet with me one evening per week for four to six weeks to study one or more topics of scripture that is of need or interest to them. I create a study plan, and then we read and study the subjects together, set goals, make notes, etc.
I take the same one day off every week. I intentionally avoid work on that day. If I’m not intentional about it, I end up doing something. When I’m off, I like to take my kids fishing, or we go on a family hike, or a trip to Cabela’s to eat candied pecans and goof off at the laser shooting gallery.
I never have a shortage of ministry
I’ve found that the life that the Lord has given me has provided me with more opportunities than the average Joe to present the Biblical Gospel to people. With all the “irons in the fire” the Lord has given me, I have unsaved friends and acquaintances all over the place. I work with them, do business with them, help them when they need it. They almost all still just know me as “Pastor Tom” no matter what my relation is to them. These are people that I have witnessed to more than once, and that I continue to try to influence for Christ. I’ve prayed with them, comforted them, served them, taught them, and more. I suppose I could schedule more door-to-door evangelism on my calendar, but honestly, with all the Gospel opportunities I have now, I’m not sure I have the time.
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