Is a pastor’s devotional life normal?

statue prayingA couple of weeks ago I tweeted a question that went out on my facebook page. The question:

“A pastor’s schedule is different than most of the people in church. We can’t hold up our devotional life as a model for them. True or false?”

Here are the responses I’ve received thus far:

  • (Pastor) FALSE!..we MUST model EVERY part of our lives…so we should have a set time for a devotion…this shows them how essential it is to HAVE a special time with our Lord…BUT whenever we can’t, then we can “squeeze” one in and continue to do our best to have a regular schedule time…
  • (Pastor) FALSE!! If Jesus were to use that excuse (and he was much busier than we are!!), then he could’ve just went house to house and preached and taught. But instead, He modeled EVERYTHING that we are to do, including setting aside time for prayer and devotions (spending time with GOD). He expects the same thing out of those whom He calls – to model for … Read Moreothers. Will we ever do it as well as He did? No… but we are called to “give it a shot”!! Besides, how can we ask others to do things when we can’t do it ourselves???
  • (Business lady) definitely FALSE. If our pastors aren’t leading us in the right way, i.e. are we supposed to know how to live and serve God ourselves, especially new Christians observing their leader and the way he walks out his faith…..
  • (Warden of a prison) I’d like to hear your thoughts Paul.
  • (Computer guru) Eh. I think it is probably TRUE. I’m just being practical…but I would expect a “professional” minister to spend MUCH more time seeking after God than I can as a “professional” software guy. I’m not saying that I think that gets me off the “devotional” hook, but I think the special calling of a pastor requires a special commitment. It is, after all, a full time job. And I have one of those too.
  • (Business man) I believe that a pastors devotionals are what the congregation is hearing at church on Sunday’s. God speaks to the pastor through the Word and his devotions. Thus giving him/her the way to lead His church. Devotions are the HEART of the pastorate! With out them there is no direction from God.

I asked this question because of a couple of reasons:

  1. I was getting ready to challenge our team to read through the book of Psalms (150 chapters) in 28 days.
  2. Sometimes pastors forget that religious activity is our vocation, and that the things we call people to do must be done between job, family, and other obligations. For instance, we call people to “make time for devotions” but we have ours in the middle of the day at Starbucks over a cup of coffee… as part of our job. Our people may not have this luxury.

So here’s my answer on this topic:

As a pastor I should be spending more time with God than anyone in my church. This is the most important meeting I have. He is the leader of the church and I am His spokesman. If I am not hearing from Him, the things I teach/preach will be suspect. Therefore I should not expect that the people of my church will match the time I spend in Scripture and prayer, BUT I should call them to model my consistency in prayer and Scripture reading.

So how does this work out in my life and ministry?

  • Personally – I have my quiet time with God from 5 – 6 a.m. This includes Bible reading, prayer, journaling, and sometimes other reading. I also pray with my wife every night before we go to sleep. During this time we pray for family, friends, and personal needs.
  • Professionally – I read Scripture in preparation for sermons. I also spend time in Scripture seeking to hear the voice of God for the future of our church, decisions that need to be made, and counsel that I need to share with others. I spend time in prayer at the church or in some other quiet place. During these times I pray to know God’s will for our church. I also pray for specific needs/people in our church

I am a man who happens to be a pastor. I, like every other man (and woman), have responsibilities that include relational, financial, physical, and spiritual, and emotional. I have professional ambitions and responsibilities like every other man (and woman).

As a pastor/leader, my job is to do my job and model the practices of a Christ-follower so that the people who call me “Pastor” can see what it looks like to maintain a vibrant relationship with Christ while carrying out the multiple responsibilities of life.

2 thoughts on “Is a pastor’s devotional life normal?

  1. I think 1 Tim 4:15 is instructive here. A pastor’s personal spirituality is not private, but public. It shows through even in the tone and earnestness, the sincerity and I’ve-been-here-myself-ness of the preaching and teaching. My mentor used to say that after I’d been at a church for a year, 2, 5, or 10, my people should be able to say without hesitation that I’ve manifestly grown in grace.

    More to the point of your question: this is a tension I’ve felt myself. I certainly can’t put burdens on my people that I myself am not able (or willing) to bear. At the same time, Scottish peasants who spent way more hours per day toiling for sustenance than we do in our cubicles certainly were more devotional, biblically literate, and theologically adept than most lay folks and many, many ministers today. One historian called the Scottish peasant the most remarkable European of the 16th-17th Century; they were socio-economic nobodies and yet they sat on Sessions (Presbyterian courts of elders) next to nobility because they manifested a spiritual maturity and biblical drenchedness that rivaled or even bested their social betters.

    I think the bottom line is that none of us communes with God like our forebears did. We’ve all got our work cut out for us.

    Now to google a read-the-bible-in-three-months plan so I can fulfill my New Years’ Resolution!

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