Ministry Monday: The Best Day to Take Off

Monday has traditionally been a day off for pastors. And for barbers. The reason for choosing Monday, I suppose, has something to do with the amount of energy expended on Sunday. Pastors are so spent from Sunday’s ministrations that they require Monday to recover. I am not sure about barbers.

I imagine a beach where pastors and barbers gather together every Monday in fraternal convocation, frolicking in the sand, holding impromptu volleyball tournaments and commiserating with one another about their clientele. “You think that’s bad?” a barber says to some pastor who has just grumbled about the disposition of his flock. “You should see how my customers treat me!”

 The truth is, very few pastors I know actually take Monday as their day off. I never did. I always took Saturday off. I figured that, if I was going to be depressed, I might as well be depressed on a workday. I also picked it because the people in my congregation were more likely to have Saturday than Monday off. I reasoned, correctly I think, that it would be easier for me to have a social life with the congregation if our schedules were similar.

Looking back on it, I wonder if I wasn’t also trying to introduce a sense of normalcy into the rhythm of my work week. While my congregation respected my pastoral vocation, some of them were puzzled by it. “What exactly do you do all week?” a member once asked me shyly. When I told him, he was amazed. He had assumed that my only responsibility was to preach a thirty minute sermon on Sunday. This was something which he believed I did without preparation.

Monday’s curse is that it is a day of starting over. No matter how well the service went yesterday, when Sunday rolls around, we will have to do it all over again. We cannot preach the same sermon. We cannot rely upon the previous week’s blessing. But this, I realize, is also Monday’s blessing. Monday is a day of new beginnings. No matter what happened yesterday, we begin today with a clean slate. But Monday is not the first day of the week. It is the second. If Monday is a day of new beginnings, it is only because of the hope of Sunday.

Question: What day do you take off and why?

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Published by

John Koessler

John Koessler serves as professor and chair of the pastoral studies department at Moody Bible Institute. His most recent book is The Radical Pursuit of Rest published by InterVarsity Press.

9 thoughts on “Ministry Monday: The Best Day to Take Off”

  1. This isn’t on topic – but I wanted to let you know how timely your segment on today’s Prime Time America was for me. My young adult kids are disconnected from the church and drifting from an orthodox faith in Christ. We’d been in church leadership while our kids were growing up, and the toxic experiences our kids had in the midst of that left each one of them with some pretty deep wounds. We share their pain, compounded by the sorrow of exposing them to so much garbage.

    Your expression of commitment to follow Christ no matter what is the cry of my heart as well.

    And so, we wait, and love, and pray for them. And pray some more.

    1. Thanks, Michelle. So glad to hear from you. I am finding there are many who share this experience. It doesn’t eliminate the heartache, but there is comfort in knowing that there are so many other who are struggling with this. The story isn’t over yet. Keep praying.

  2. I take Friday off. If my wife doesn’t have to work on a Friday it gives us a feeling of a normal weekend and allows us to go out or have friends over in the evenings. Otherwise it is a great day for me and my daughter to play and be together.

    I’m not sure it is the day I would really prefer to have off but it works best for our family right now.

      1. I’d probably still choose Friday. I’m a creature of habit.

        Here’s a question I have: Should pastors work a 5 day work week (like most business professionals) or a 6 day work week (like God in Genesis 1)? I notice a lot of churches expect their pastors to do a six day week even though they don’t complain if the congregation only does a 5 day work week. Your thoughts?

  3. Jeremy,

    I don’t think there is a single rule that fits all cases. Many in the congregation are working six day work weeks also. The pastor’s decision needs to navigate the tension between personal need and congregational expectations. Many church members are putting in time at church in addition to their full-time jobs. I used to remind myself that I was the only one who was getting paid to be there on Sundays!

    John

  4. I take Saturday off to spend my wife’s day off with her, I use Mondays for staff meetings and responding to what happened and what we learned about the people we are with so we can help meet the needs expressed

    1. Mark:

      I really like the structure of your approach. It is family friendly and provides an opportunity for pastoral reflection on the part of the staff. I especially appreciate the way you view Sunday as a point of contact and discovery. This is the way a shepherd thinks!

      John

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