How hard should I work?

Writing is not my day job. Writing is not how I earn my bread and butter. Nor is it my primary focus in life; I’m a pastor. I’m here to serve. I’m here to speak God’s Word. I’m here to proclaim what God has said and apply it to my congregation. I work hard in my service; sixty hours makes for a short week of work for me. Usually the hours are longer!

I’m also a husband and a father. My wife comes before my writing. So do my kids. They are important and should come before my writing!

Yet, I need to work hard if I’m going to get this novel done by go time. What’s the proper balance? 

I can’t ignore my call as a pastor to get writing done. That would be wrong; I can’t ignore hurting hearts and dying souls for the sake of some fictional world I created. I can’t ignore my wife to get writing done. She has been a blessing to me, and I’ve been called to be her husband. That means I need to show love to her — which means not ignoring her! I can’t ignore my children to get writing done. I need to be their father, which means spending time with them. And, lest I be misunderstood, none of these things are burdens for me. (Well, most of them aren’t burdens. I could do without some of the meetings that come with being a pastor. Can I just trade that part away?) I have been incredibly blessed and I  want to serve as a pastor, husband, and father.

So where does that leave writing?

Good question. Even during Lent, one of the busiest times of a pastor’s year, I’ve been able to carve out about five hours a week — or more! — for writing. God has designed humans in such a way that we need downtime. I can’t be engaging in ministry constantly; that’s a good way to burn out. Rather than watch tv or spend  endless hours on the internet, I write. My wife, amazing woman that she is, supports me in that. While I do revisions, she runs ahead of me in the previous draft and makes notes, so I have some direction in what to change.

And then I get toward the end of an evening… and I think to myself, “I could do one more chapter!” And I look at the time.

I should really go to bed if I’m going to be awake enough tomorrow. I can’t mentally sleep at my call as a pastor; it’s not good to start snoring during a counseling session, nor is it advised to skip sermon preparation. But I’m supposed to hustle to get my book done, aren’t I?

It’s a balance. For the moment, I’m erring on the side of being a pastor, husband, and father. (And not necessarily in that order!) After Easter, I might let pastor step down for a night or two a week and concentrate on writing until the deadline in mid-April. We’ll see when we get there.

Yes, I’m a writer. But I’m a lot of other things, too. And I work hard at all of them — because God gets glory through all of them. It’s just hard to find the right balance!

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