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A Letter from the Associate Pastor to Presbytery

How Do You Spend Your Time?
June 23, 2011

As I speak to and pray with pastors in the presbytery, they frequently share frustration about how they are spending time in their pastoral role.  Many will say, “I’m spending all my time on little stuff and never get to the BIG things.”  Or others will say, “My church has a different expectation about how I am to use my time. In fact my yearly evaluations by the Personnel Committee are focused on the stuff that doesn’t matter that much in the long run.”

At a recent pastor group meeting I attended, we discussed this dynamic.  In preparation for the meeting, we read chapter 16 entitled “From Manager to Leader” from Robert Quinn’s book, Deep Change.  He describes the following four competing roles leaders play (adapted from his book) in the wider system:

Transformational roles

Transactional roles

It seems that many pastors spend the majority of their time on transactional roles. Although performing these roles well is necessary and keeps the “system” functioning smoothly, (and I might add pleases most Personnel Committees), they do not normally help the church to grow spiritually, look to the future or generate much energy and passion concerning God’s calling upon the church.  Robert Quinn, suggests that effective leaders need to spend time on all four roles, but with an intentional effort to focus on the vision setter and motivator roles. (Note: Being a vision setter does not mean a pastor is solely responsibility for shaping a vision, but helping the leaders, i.e. elders of session to fashion one together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.)  Leaders who integrate and perform these roles are more effective in helping their church be the church God desires it to be.

In the pastor group we did the following exercise.  We reflected on the four roles and then all of us assigned a percentage to each according to how much time he or she spends in that role.  I would encourage all pastors to periodically conduct this “self-evaluation.”  It could be insightful.  It may be transformative. Better yet, I would encourage you to become involved in a pastor group that discussed such practical things, prays for one another and supports each other in the challenging yet joyful tasks of ministry. (Note: If you are interested in becoming part of a current or new pastor group, please call me!)

Blessings in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Portz, Associate Pastor to Pittsburgh Presbytery


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