How much should a minister work? Part III

OK, so following some discussion of the previous blog (Part I and Part II), I need to discuss another common model.  I'd already been thinking of this one and then other people mentioned it to me as well.

The basic form of this model of work goes like this.  Split the day up into three sections: morning, afternoon and evening.  Only ever work two out of the three sections in one day.

This has a number of extensions.  For example, I think an older version of this went something like: you spend the morning in the study and the afternoon/evening in the parish (visiting).  You also need to define a little further for day off.  That could be, you need to take 3 consecutive day sections off (which gives more flexibility) or you have a day where you take all the sections off.

There are a number of attractive things about this approach.

  1. It is quite flexible.  So to some extent it flexes with your diary.  You can look at the fixed events in your diary and take time off around them.
  2. By fixing time off each day, it ensures you (at least usually) don't overwork on that day and do have time each day for other things.
  3. The idea of study in the morning and visiting in the afternoon gives some useful structure.
There are some problems though and I have to admit I don't know anybody who actually follows this pattern.
  1. I think at heart the problem is that it's extremely difficult to organise your diary like this.  There are too many things that you don't fix the dates and times for.  Life isn't quite so orderly as this. In some ways the rest of the points are examples of this.
  2. The system doesn't provide a way to deal with the ebb and flow of work.  E.g. when multiple funerals, pastoral crises or for that matter Christmas and Easter hit.
  3. Most of our work is around other people's work/lives.  I.e. we tend to work a lot at evenings and weekends, because people are free then.  But if you have a wife and/or children (especially if they work or are in school) then this can be hugely destructive to family life.  It's also destructive to social life and interests whether you have family or not.  The problem with this system is that it draws you into that destructive pattern, because you tend to organise around your work commitments.  It needs extending to explicitly include managing your life.
  4. The risk is that you organise to work in two sections of the day and then spend the other section catching up on the work!  Free time tends to become filled time.
  5. The study/visiting model doesn't necessarily take account of modern life, nor does it take account of things that aren't study or visiting!
I actually quite like the principle of this system.  In some ways it captures some aspects of how we should be thinking about work and time off.  I think with a ruthless commitment to some controls it could work quite well.  For example, booking into your diary evenings to see your wife;  afternoons with your children; Saturdays with friends etc.  The problem is that the pull of the work seems to undermine that!

What do you think?

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