By Mark Dance
The gospel is the good news about the finished work of Jesus, yet a pastor’s work never seems to be finished—especially during a crisis.
Pastors and ministry leaders have been in a hard ministry sprint for over a month, and we’re tired.
This season has brought both challenges and opportunities for which we’ve not been formally trained. If someone has a script for this season, they’re doing a great job of hiding it!
Whether you’re sheltering at home or in your church office, this ministry whirlwind will never stop on its own.
My simple quarantine routine involves four components that have helped me to find a sustainable rhythm and pace.
1. Start your day with Jesus.
Pastor and author, Peter Scazzero, reflects on a busy, draining season in his ministry.
When I first became a Christian, I fell in love with Jesus. I cherished time alone with him while reading the Bible and praying. Yet, almost immediately, the activity of my life began to eclipse the contemplative dimension of my life… It wasn’t long before I was engaged in more activity for God than my being with God could sustain.” (The Emotionally Healthy Leader)
Once Scazzero became aware of the eroding condition of his soul, he began to intentionally slow down the pace of his life to implement the foundational practices of solitude, silence, Scripture, and Sabbath.
Don’t make the mistake of history’s first pastors by becoming so busy that you neglect prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6).
2. Stop during the day to refocus.
Previously, I told you that one of the mistakes to avoid during this crisis is to ignore your family or personal well-being. I said self-care is strategic, not selfish.
I challenged you to take 3-4 mini-Sabbaths a day to rest in the presence of God. So one month later, I’m giving you a pop-quiz (I hate those too).
For me, the recent accelerated pace of ministry has mostly been exciting. I began 2020 in Oklahoma with a new regional role to 400 churches and a statewide role to 1,800 churches.
Additionally, I started leading a national pastoral ministry this month called Care4Pastors. This is a great season to be a Barnabas!
We can manage our lives well by managing our ministry pace well. Refuse to sprint through your day without stopping to be shepherded by our Savior.
3. Set a hard stop to your workday.
I asked Janet to provide a hard stop for me each day at supper time, which is usually at 6:00 pm. I typically wake up around 6:00 am, walk with God for an hour, then work until Janet says, “Supper is ready.”
After supper, we do some things that fit into the category of “life.” Almost all ministry can wait until the following day.
I admit this routine isn’t always this clean, and if you have children at home, this routine may sound like a pipedream. The key is to develop a routine that brings some sanity to your life and ministry.
4. Set a hard stop to your work week.
I try hard each week to do more than slow down because God commanded us to stop, which is what “Sabbath” means. Pastors aren’t exempt from this, so don’t try to find a donkey in every ditch.
If you’re struggling to stop, my prayer is that this post will help you live out the Gospel hour by hour, day by day, and week by week.
This COVID season is temporary and messy, so remember to practice the grace you just preached about Sunday.
Once you’ve developed some rhythm to your routine, be flexible because your quarantine routine will be disrupted.
MARK DANCE (@markdance) speaks at churches, conferences, and retreats—often with his wife Janet. Mark has contributed to several books and offers weekly encouragement at MarkDance.net. He’s currently serving as director of pastoral development for the Oklahoma Baptist Convention.