You’ve probably heard, in financial terms, of building a savings for a “rainy day”.  Some experts suggest saving up to 3 months wages in case something happens.  Maybe putting aside 10% of one’s paycheque to make this happen.

The other day, I joined a ministerial group that was discussing “The Suffering Christ”, more specifically how to minister to those suffering in our churches, or when pastors are suffering themselves.  In our small group, comments were made that sometimes, we as pastors don’t find out the sufferings of our congregants partially because they’re not sure how we’ll react, partially because really, we have no time for them.  We have no time to walk with them in their journey.  No time to hear their story.  In fact, if we were honest, we admitted to each other that we feel we wouldn’t have the energy to handle major suffering anyway, unless it really had to be dealt with.  Really, with overworked and overloaded schedules, dealing with suffering is really emotionally taxing.

Then I started thinking: all the things that’s on a pastor’s to-do list, are they really necessary?  Some of it is necessary, but some of it really isn’t that important in the eternal sense.  Some of it we take on ourselves.  Some of it is because we have this sense that if we’re not always busy, we’re not doing “what we’re paid to do” and be as productive as possible.

Yet I wonder, knowing that suffering and other “interruptions” happen in life, what would happen if we made “reservations” in being prepared for handling those moments?  Like a savings account, what if we allowed ourselves to not work at maximum capacity all the time, but to be in a routine at (as an arbitrary number) 80% of the time.  To prioritize what really is God’s calling and what is really man’s calling.  To live the life that God intended, and to actually fully our pastoral calling by pastoring (not just managing or directing or coordinating) those God has entrusted to us.  To work at 80% capacity allows for us to use our “reserves” in handling suffering in a way that does not overtax us but actually allows to give our best in that moment.

I realize that there are some who say that “we need to trust God to give us strength” and other sentiments as such.  But I don’t believe God ever called us into vocational ministry to drain us and then throw us aside.  The principles of Sabbath are just as vital to pastors as they are to all people.

What would it look like if pastors would work at 80% capacity?  Perhaps then, we could actually do “what we’re paid to do” … care for those God has entrusted to us.