[Photo by Joe Lanman]

Okay, so it is Friday AM and I am sitting in a cafe here in SF about an hour before my first meeting of the day.  Due to people’s schedules, my schedule and my lack of a complete 24-hour day off from church stuff, I once again, am working on what is supposed to be my day off.

What follows is not a whiny rant about how oppressed the poor pastor is because he doesn’t get a weekend.  I don’t feel burned out, I don’t feel tired, abused, taken advantage of, taken for granted, etc.  But, this leaves me wondering, “Have I discovered the new “Day Off”?” or am I simply justifying my own need to accomplish tasked, be perceived as busy, yada yada yada.  Or like most things, maybe a little of both?

Abut 18 months ago – whew how time flies – had taken to trying to unplug for 24 hours straight.  While it was not as difficult as I thought it would be, it was also not all that fulfilling.  Just meant that I had to be that more uber-pressured into getting things done by Midnight on Thursday.  Not sure what exactly I was expecting, but no big release of stress, no huge discoveries of self, just unplugged and unable to look up movies without spending 50 cents on a paper.

So here I am on my non-day off day off and feeling just fine.   The main reason I am okay with this is that I feel like I accumulate my day-off through out the week, and that fits my pace, life and personality just fine.

On to the justifications and perspectives in no particular order:

  • Handled well, there ain’t nothin’ better than a pastor’s schedule.  The non-structured nature of it all could eat you alive, but it also offers a flexibility that one can find in very few other professions.
  • I am really not as busy as people would like to think.  EVERYONE is busy, life is chaotic and I feel like I have a good handle on juggling all the balls that God has tossed into my life.
  • I don’t feel like I am working all the time.  I try to keep my actual church work time to about 8-10 hours a day, but that is hard to gauge – see next item.
  • My life is one big chaotic swirling blended mix of who I am.  Now I know there are dangers of blurry boundaries, but really it makes no sense to be on something like Facebook and use the brain energy to decide it this interaction is “Personal” or “Professional” . . . I just decide whether it can wait or needs to be addressed right away.  I liken it to the idea that having a pager or mobile phone ties you to the church.  Hint: Don’t answer it if you don’t want to. You have the power.
  • I feel like I let things drop, fail or not happen as they need and/or pick up the pace and dive in as the situation dictates.
  • I am getting better at delegating church stuff, though it is still hard.
  • I am able to spend time in my children’s class room – yesterday’s post – and be at their dance classes each week and go on most field trips. How awesome is that?
  • I can do household errands/chores when all you other shmucks are at work shackled to a desk 😉  Costo on Tuesday afternoon, here I come!
  • No one as MBCC really likes to meet during the day: except other pastors of course.  With an overabundance of traveling consultants, doctors, teachers, desk-types, etc. at MBCC my weekday face-time needs are pretty low.  On the other hand my online connections and late night meetings are at a premium. See Pastoring in My World.
  • I steal away to see a movie during the day, shhhhhhhh.
  • I have taken to signing off at 10:00pm, so Robin and I have at least an hour of time together to catch up sans kids while watching reruns of The Family Guy.  There is at least one boundary in my life 😉

So how does this play out during the week?  The best I can here, is how i figure “other” stuff eats into what i would think are traditional work hours.

  • + 4 hours – Child Activities
  • + 4 hours – Personal Errands/Chores
  • + 1 hours – Movie or other “me” thing
  • + 5 hours – blurry personal/professional online crap: blogging, Facebook, yelping, etc.
  • = 14 Hours a week

Uh oh, now they are going to find out I am really a slacker.

So there you have have it, all justifications maybe, but nonetheless the reality of my day off.  I don’t have just one or two solid days off, I have an accumulated couple of days off every week. Justification for being a workaholic, maybe, but just maybe a new way of
living in the midst of a three-child-having, young-church-pastoring, urban-techno-geek-being, attracted-to-shiny-things reality that is my life.

I guess the real test will be how my family, friends and church look back on these times and reflect on what they have seen and experienced.  Will they see Bruce #1, a great dad/father/friend who truly found peace in the midst of chaos, or will they see Bad Bruce, just another workaholic pastor that lost sight of what was important in life.

Monty, I hope I am taking door #1.

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