This week my SPRC liaison approached me about a couple of issues she needed to discuss with me. One was about finances for the coming year (a looming unknown as we wait and pray for more pledge cards to be turned in) and about some concerns from
the congregation a couple of people in the congregation. Two people had asked her if I was even working full time these days.
Wow. That stung. I would venture to say that anyone in ministry as a profession knows that there is no "part time ministry". I have friends who have tried it...tried working half time or even 3/4 time, and yet, the work of ministry is consuming and they still end up putting in full time hours. Ever since commissioning, I have worked full time as a pastor. Most weeks that equals 50-55 hours, minimum. Often it equals 60-65 hours in a week. In high holy seasons, maybe even more.
I love my job, and love what I do. And since having a baby, I have backed up a bit from the overly full time schedule I was keeping. I used to be willing to go from 8am-midnight if it was needed to accomplish something or to run a program. Now, I am not able to do that, and in having Ruth, I have seen my priorities differently, and I am even unwilling to do that. Regularly working a 16 hour day is not fair and it's not fun.
The truth of the matter is I have scaled back. Scaled back from 55-60 hour weeks to 45-50 hour weeks (with an occasional week requiring more). But I still work full time.
I suggested to my SPRC liaison that a fitting response to these individuals might be, "what is it you expect Pastor Debbie to be doing that you don't see her doing?" I mean, maybe they have some expectation for my ministry and I just don't know about it.
I inquired where the concern came from and one person said they didn't see me in the office much and the other just wondered how many hours I have been working. I know many of my colleagues have faced regular complaints about "office hours" being insufficient, fortunately, I never have. So to be surprised by it was very frustrating. So little of my ministry occurs within the office walls. Sure, it can. I do counseling in the office (but I also do it at starbucks, in restaurants, on the phone, and in my own home). I do emailing and administration in the office (but I also do that in my home and just about wherever I am on my phone). I read in my office (that is if I am left alone for more than 15 minutes...), but I also read a variety of other places. But I am not the type to just sit in the office. It's part of why I like ministry--I have the flexibility to work anywhere.
Hearing those types of comments always makes me do some serious self inventory. And I have. And now I need to move on. Because I know I work full time. I know I do a variety of things in ministry. (I also know that I am not super human and there are things I miss because there simply isn't time to do it all). Now I am working on forgiving this unnamed person and trying not to make assumptions about who it was.