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A while back, a good friend pointed out that while the majority of pastors overwork, a certain segment of pastors have swung to the other extreme.

This segment apparently thinks working forty hours per week is overdoing it. For them, it seems to be too much. And I wonder: Has this group of leaders overreacted to their workaholic peers and landed at the other extreme of the pendulum, where laziness lives?

If you lean toward workaholic tendencies, the proper response is not swinging to the other extreme of laziness. God calls us to work hard and more importantly to produce fruit—but also to know when to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Workaholism and laziness are evil twins. Both are bad. Both are destructive. Health lives somewhere in the middle. God expects pastors (and all of us as a matter of fact) to be both diligent and smart when it comes to work. For a pastor, that means putting in the time required to lead and disciple the people God’s given to them. Pastoring well requires energy, effort, a keen sense of what’s important, and time.

Some pastors are lazy. It hurts me to say those words, because none of the pastors I work with fit that description. Here’s the truth: if you’re not a self-starter, don’t have a clear vision, and have little or no accountability in your life, the pastorate can become a place of idleness.

So how does a leader avoid workaholism’s evil twin—laziness?

Intentionality

Prayerfully setting God-given goals is a recipe for productivity. Work off a calendar, a schedule, a purposeful to-do list. And when obstacles threaten to derail your progress, refuse to give up easily.

Converge Coaching’s vision is to influence 25,000 leaders by 2025. Our quarterly goals reflect that vision. And our weekly to-do list maps to those quarterly goals.

Do our plans occasionally get blown up by life? Yes. Do we give up on those goals when unexpected challenges emerge? No. If your approach to work is to let your week come to you and then merely react to it . . . you might be lazy. Intentionality will keep you in the middle.

Accountability

It helps to remember every pastor will give an account of his leadership to Jesus. Not sure what that day of accounting looks like—but I wonder if one question He will ask us is: “What did you do with the time and talent I entrusted to you?” Here’s the challenge: the evaluation of our leadership by the Lord seems far away. We tend to think we have plenty of time to get our act together.

So how do we put accountability into our life right now? Here’s a few ideas: Open your calendar to a mentor. Share your goals with him/her. Explain your work week to them. A good mentor knows when to push you, and when to rein you in. If you’re afraid to share your calendar, your goals, and your work week with somebody who loves you enough to tell you the truth . . . you might be lazy. Accountability helps you stay in the middle.

Security

This one may seem odd, but stay with me for a minute. A friend told me several years ago: “Leaders need to learn to work from their identity not for their identity.” I was floored by those powerful words. If we pastors could latch on to that truth, we wouldn’t overwork or underwork. I am loved by Father God whether I see great results or not. But His unconditional love doesn’t breed laziness. Rather, it motivates me to serve Him and others. His love pushes me forward when the lazy part of me wants to float through life. Being secure in God’s love protects us from workaholism while at the same time prodding us toward a healthy work ethic. If you are insecure in God’s love for you . . . you might react by choosing workaholism or laziness. Security keeps us in the middle.

Please understand—this post isn’t a call to work at an unsustainable pace. I get concerned when pastors run themselves into the ground, because I know what comes next if they don’t learn a better way to work. But lazy pastors as well are setting themselves up for a life of frustration and trouble.

How about we avoid the evil twins? Pastors, let’s locate health . . . somewhere in the middle.

Rooting and praying for you,

John

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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