The Pastors’ Spending Plan

Have you heard a lot about how our Congress in Washington continues to struggle with adopting a “spending plan” coming up to a spending “deadline” and then have to extend it over and over again? Some leaders attempt to spend their time the way Congress spends money.  I wish when I started in the ministry, someone would have helped me know how to better budget my time weekly.

That’s got me thinking about a pastors’ “spending plan” in ministry. What is the economy of your ministry? Are you running in a surplus or a deficit? It has been said, “Show me your checkbook and calendar and I will tell you what you really value.” The spending plan for pastors and people in ministry that I’m referring to is how we spend our time, week in and week out in ministry. In the book, Simple Church, by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger, they said that the ministries a church does weekly is their “bread and butter.”

Are you spending the majority of your time on that which counts in God’s economy…in Great Commission work?

For example, how do you spend your time in week to week in ministry? Are you spending the majority of your time on that which counts in God’s economy…in Great Commission work? How are you investing your time? WHO are you investing your time in weekly?  

We have heard of three-dimensional spaces but what about four-dimensional? Four-dimensional space is the mathematical extension of the concept of three-dimensional space Let me share with you about a weekly four-dimensional spending plan of time for ministry.  What are the 4Ds? Depend, Declare, Disciple, and Develop.

First Dimension:

Depend on Christ Through Prayer. 

Prayer seems to be the first thing to go when we have a busy day or week. Prayer is not the last resort, it’s the first resource. Much can be accomplished when we, according to Philippians 4:6, “don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done” (NLT). We know it but Satan steals this truth from our minds. Success in ministry can come at a cost. When we first start in ministry, we may be like King David did when he first became king. Over and over we see him “and David inquired of the Lord.” We need to inquire of God daily and moment by moment and no matter how much success we have in ministry we need to realize that we need to do our “declaration of dependence” on Christ. I have learned the power of the whisper prayer for help going into any and every situation. Oswald Chambers in his devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest,” taught me a lot on prayer early on in my ministry. “To say that ‘prayer changes things’ is not as close to the truth as saying, ‘prayer changes me and then I change things.’” And 100 years ago, he wrote, “Prayer does not equip us for some greater works—prayer is the greater work.”

Second Dimension:

Declare God’s Word.

Declare God’s Word both through a teaching and preaching ministry. We are called to be effective communicators of God’s Word! Someone instructed me early in ministry that for every minute you preach, you need to prepare an hour for that minute. According to the math 30 minutes of preaching requires 30 hours per message. That gives you 20 hours (assuming you work a 50 hour week) for other areas of ministry. Most people hardly remember our messages 24 to 48 hours after we have preached them. Yes, prepare solid and biblical messages that inspire people to live out God’s Word, but there are more effective ways to impact them.

Third Dimension:

Disciple Believers and New Believers.

When I say disciple someone, I’m talking about life-on-life where it is more than Bible study and memorizing scripture with some accountability. It is the ministry of presence. Much of our pastoral care and counseling could be used to disciple others. Our witnessing could be used to disciple someone else. I didn’t know this when I first started ministry, I didn’t know that you cannot develop leaders if you don’t first make disciples. There is no leadership pipeline without a discipleship pathway. 

Have you narrowed in on a “few good men”
that you can practice 2 Timothy 2:2?

Fourth Dimension:

Develop Leaders. 

This is what determines our legacy and the longest impact we can leave for God’s Kingdom. Have you narrowed in on a “few good men” that you can practice 2 Timothy 2:2? This is the area that will outlast your life the most. This looks a lot like the third D but it is so much more. It is delegating ministry responsibility to faithful men and women. It is calling them to answer the call to take responsibility for someone else’s spiritual development and the development of a ministry that they champion for Christ’s Kingdom.

I know that there can be more involved in ministry than these four dimensions. There can be administrative tasks from time to time. But what would it look like to spend 10 to 12 hours on each D weekly, if you are a full-time pastor/leader? Let’s “balance our budget” and seek to focus on these 4Ds in ministry, that if focused on, could give you as a pastor/leader, an increased impact in and a wiser spending plan of your time week in and week out.

John Howeth is the Regional Director for Longs Peak Baptist Association; to contact him [email protected]



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