If you don’t train your church what boundaries are appropriate, you likely won’t have many.
If you are the senior pastor, you can set the tone publicly.
I’d suggest a few of the following:
1. Publicly communicate when your day off is.
Talk about how important that day is to your family.
2. At appropriate times, explain the challenges of your schedule.
Some people think you only work on Sundays. Explaining some of what you face will create understanding.
3. Create some level of screening if possible.
Even if you are a solo pastor with no staff, a volunteer could help you with your e-mail or answer phones. Many things you do daily can be handled by capable volunteers. You don’t need to know and do everything.
4. Be willing to “go dark” at least once a year.
You might explain to the church that you’ll be away with your family and not taking calls for a week. Ask your lay leader to be in charge. I’d suggest you give a phone number to one person who has permission to contact you with only dire emergencies. You need at least one week a year to disconnect.
5. Don’t feel pressure to reply to e-mails instantly.
I like all e-mails returned but won’t be slave to them.
6. Protect at least one night a week for dates or family nights.
Explain that Monday or Thursday or whatever is the one night you protect. When someone asks for counseling or a wedding rehearsal on that night, don’t do it.
7. Be willing to say “no.”
As a pastor who loves people, you’ll say “yes” to many invitations. Don’t be afraid to occasionally or often say “no.” Don’t feel pressure to give an explanation. A simple, “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t make it” is enough.
Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Set the boundaries that will help you go the distance.
What are your thoughts?