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Should a Pastor Be Accessible 24-7?

Accessibility. An issue that probably every pastor struggles with.

Should we make ourselves accessible around the clock, or should we not?

Here are my thoughts and some helpful practices. I’d love to hear yours as well.

I believe that pastors who make themselves accessible 24/7 can’t do the job God has called them to do.

We must proactively plan how we spend our days, making sure that we allocate time for our key responsibilities that include sermon prep, strategic planning and leadership development. Although emergencies sometimes must take precedence over our planned schedules, we must manage our time to reasonably meet people’s personal needs while still fulfilling the strategic roles we must play.

On the other hand, I’ve known some pastors who simply don’t make themselves accessible at all.

I knew one pastor who told me that he disappeared after a Sunday service because he didn’t want to interact with people. He didn’t last long in ministry. I’ve found that most church people will not abuse the access you give to them. We are called shepherds, and we must spend time with the sheep. Otherwise, we won’t know their needs, hurts and pains, and as a result, we can’t lead the church to help meet those needs.

So in my view, wisdom must dictate how accessible we allow ourselves to be.

We must guard our time so that we can accomplish our strategic roles I mentioned above. At the same time, we must interact with people, which requires reasonable accessibility.

Here’s what I do to try to keep a balance. I’ve certainly not arrived, but these practices have served me well.

1. I use two email addresses.

One that I use regularly is not public. The other is available through our web site that goes directly to my assistant. Often, she can handle many of the requests that come via that email address. Those that I must handle, she forwards to me.

2. I don’t feel obligated to immediately answer every call that comes to my cell phone.

Sometimes I intentionally let the call go to voice mail and answer the call later in the day when I return calls.