I use to hate the interruptions. I had a full-time assistant, a very strict calendar, a staff who was really good at running interference and interruptions just didn’t happen to me. But, looking back I’m not sure very much ministry happened either.
Ministry Does Happen on My Terms
As much as I would love it to happen around me, ministry doesn’t happen on my schedule. Death, heartbreak, relapses, rebellion, and sin happen when they happen and as pastors our calling is to be there in the midst of the chaos regardless of whether we have time or not.
Ministry happens in the midst of the interruptions and if you don’t learn this principle, I honestly don’t believe you’ll have the impact you could have in the lives of your people.
Too Organized for Our Own Good?
I’m afraid in attempt to be better organized and structured, we are missing out on the main reason we do this gig which is helping people.
You have to look no further than the life of Jesus to see this principle in action. The interaction Jesus had with people always came in the midst of Him doing something else. No one ever scheduled a time to meet with Jesus, they just came to Him as they had opportunity and because Jesus understood the importance of “interruptions” those times were many.
Jesus was always stopping what He was doing (teaching, hanging with friends, eating, etc.) and taking time for those in need.
We Must Learn to Do Ministry in the Interruptions
Learning to do ministry in the interruptions has been a huge learning curve for me, but I have learned the need to be intentional about it if I am going to be effective at it.
Here are just a few things I’ve learned on doing life in the midst of the interruptions.
- Remember why you got in ministry. I can’t speak for you but I do this because I love people! If you lose sight of the fact that is about people, the interruptions will be interruptions and not ministry opportunities.
- Don’t overbook your week. I keep my week very fluid. I have about 20 hours a week of stuff that has to get done and the other 30 hours is filled with stuff that can be rescheduled if needed. This keeps me open to interruptions and not tied to the calendar.
- Be accessible. I find it amazing how sheltered pastors are from the real world. It would be easier to get a meeting with the governor than it would be most pastors. For where we are as a church right now, I don’t even have a office. I sit in our kids area or our sound booth and do 90% of my work. As people come in and out of our building, I’m very accessible. There are days like Tuesday which are my study day that I hide a little better but even on those days I’m pretty easy to find.
- Have boundaries. This might seem like a big contradiction but you do need boundaries. I’m very intentional about a weekly day off, date night with my wife, and uninterrupted time with my kids. During those times, we have plans in place for someone else to handle the interruptions should they happen.
Nothing gets my mojo going like helping people. Due to the location and vision of our church, we constantly have a building full of people. We have addicts who hang out in our building because they are struggling, we have homeless people in our building because they have nowhere else to go, we have people dropping off food and clothing, and each person who walks through our doors is a “interruption opportunity” for me to live out my calling.
Embrace the interruptions and it will change the way you view people, the way you lead, and what you find important.