Healthy boundaries are essential to maintaining not only clergy health but church health. Clergy who are happy and healthy are more likely to serve with longevity and lead churches with ethical clarity.
When my father was in the last few months of his life, we bought him a clock. This was a date-and-time clock, intended to help keep him oriented as his dementia worsened. It cycled through the date and time, day after day, until one day in June, it suddenly changed to read “It’s Monday Morning.” No time. No date. Just a day and a general time of day. As my dad’s concept of time faded, somehow this clock changed to this very basic way of orienting to time.
If part-time ministry supported by secondary (and sometimes tertiary) employment is truly “the wave of the future,” we desperately need to face the elephant in the room. We need to have honest, straightforward, and faithful conversations about clergy compensation and how the church can lead in economic justice.
Pastors are called to be visionary; they are asked to keep order and use tried and true formats and materials. They are called to innovate, and they are required to keep the cherished traditions of any individual church alive. They are called to take the long view; and they need to meet the day to day needs of congregants. Can one person do it all? Can that one person do it all well?
Except for a few short years in K-12 education, my career has always danced between positions in higher education and the church. I have observed some similarities in how the two types of organizations function, especially when under economic pressure.