The benefits of tracking your time in ministry


     Occasionally...well more like once in a blue moon (twice in over 15 years of full time ministry) have I been asked to account for my time.  If you know me... I eat, breathe, sleep, and dream ministry. At home, at work, at church, my mind is on ministry. It's "my thing." I read books, serve, browse ministry websites, attend conferences, read blogs, spend lots of time with people, mentor, pray, run after school clubs, and am always in a "what can I do better?" frame of mind when it comes to impacting God's kingdom. So to be asked, questioned, or to have someone wonder "Gee what DOES she do all day?" is like asking an ocean if it ever stops moving. Does it moonlight elsewhere when no one is looking? Does the ocean take a break and spend time masquerading as a great lake, or rushing river? Asking a woman in youth ministry what she does all day (especially when she has a family to manage as well!) is sometimes a huge slap in the face. That's why I track my time.
    Proof there is no such thing as part time ministry and proof of working more than almost humanly possible, can be found by tracking my time. Everyone laughs at the idea of part time ministry. You've heard it said over and over, there is no such thing as part time ministry, only part time pay. So true, especially when you are wired for ministry. It's something we do. On the clock or not.  Dan Crouch, a youth worker in the Church of England shares in an interview:

"“I worked 37 hours on paper, but in reality it was more like 50. It’s probably not healthy, but that’s the reality of being in youth ministry. A minister is never working 37 hours a week, it’s not a 9-5 job. The issues young people have don’t wait until a more convenient time. In September the church had to reduce my hours to 29, but I still work about 40."
-Dan Crouch in an interview at Youth Leader's Academy blog

I've found keeping a log of how I spend my time to be really helpful. First, I can see if I am too heavy on the admin/office hours and too light on the ministering WITH PEOPLE hours. It's easy to hide behind a computer and not spend time with students and staff outside of program time. Tracking my time helps me to stay in check. The question to ask is, "Am I spending my time in areas which best help meet ministry goals?" A reminder to paste on my mirror: I want to be a minister not an administer.

     Tracking your time or logging in your hours, is also a fantastic tool for making sure you workaholics are honoring your days off and enjoying your family. When I see my work hours WAY exceeding what I actually get paid to work, I know to slow down and spend more time on the home front. Tracking your time is a great tool for raising awareness of all the extra time you work without even realizing it. How often are you up late checking and replying to church email? What about when you are hanging with zombies and watching Walking Dead on TV only to find yourself updating your youth group webpage at the same time, or designing a youth group flyer before bed? Every little minute adds up, and I bet you would be shocked to see how many hours you REALLY work a week in ministry.

    If you work from home, tracking your time is a MUST. When I start my "timer" and am on the work clock, I am less likely to be sidetracked by laundry, dishes, or Facebook. When I am on the clock, I am on the clock. When someone rolls their eyes when you packed up your laptop to "work from home" you can prove you really work from home by keeping track of your time. You can not only record how many hours you logged from home, but also show what exactly you worked on too. It's a beautiful way to work from home...guilt free and kicking butt with all you get done!

     How do you track working hours without it being more trouble than it's worth? I've found Cashboard to be the best solution for easily seeing how I spend my work hours. If I find myself in one of those once every ten year conversations about my schedule, I can place this handy report into their fingers and watch them flinch just a bit.

I am currently only working 30 hours a week for the church and
spending the rest of my "work hours" on speaking and writing projects.
I use Cashboard to log my church hours. It's REALLY hard to work only 30 hours a week in ministry! 



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