Time Out: The priorities of the pastor

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

Gaining recognition is fairly easy in life and ministry. What isn’t easy is succeeding in the things that really matter. We can all find some way to achieve in some area – but unless it is what God wants it isn’t really success at all. There is way too much to do in life and ministry to do it all. Therefore we must focus on doing what really is important. No one sits around bored because there is nothing to do. We all are making decisions, large and small, about how to use our time. The key is to make the choices God would have you make. Here are some principles to help determine godly priorities.

Praying is more important than preaching/teaching. Guard your time for prayer even more than you guard your time for lesson preparation and study. When forced to choose between them, make prayer your top priority. As has been said, prayer is not preparation for the work, prayer is the work.

Preaching/teaching is more important than administration. Its so easy to get bogged down in administrative details that the real important things in ministry get set aside. While it is necessary to be organized, its very easy to put off difficult tasks while spending a whole morning taking care of minor details.

The family is more important than the youth group. Our number one responsibility is to shepherd our mate and family. We will have more impact on them than on anyone else. Those are the sheep with the first priority for our time and attention. While the youth group may feed your ego more and you may struggle with relationships at home, don’t hide behind “ministry” and use it to avoid meeting the needs of your family. That can mean making some hard, but very important choices.

Faithfulness is more important than competition. Don’t compare yourself to others in the ministry. That is always very dangerous and a sure set-up for feelings of failure. The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence. Be faithful to the best of your ability where God put you and leave the rest up to Him.

Love is more important than ability. You’ve heard it said that your teens don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. That’s true. Paul himself said that having all the best gifts in the world isn’t anything if we don’t have love. Even the best teaching and the finest program won’t change lives if it isn’t filtered through a personality filled with love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”


  • Which of the above do you think God would say you have the most success with?
  • Which of the above do you think God would say you have the most problem with?
  • What can you do about that, starting today? (Write down a plan, be specific.)
  • Pray for your senior pastor and others on the staff, that these would be true of them as well.

Jerry SchmoyerJerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 15 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on November 29, 2009

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