I know that many pastors take Monday as a day off, in order to recouperate from the weekend. I have never been able to do that. I just can’t relax the day after worship.
I learned early on that what happens on Monday can often make the difference between a successful week and a disastrous one.
On top of this, since most of my church members work normal Monday to Friday jobs, they don’t necessarily think about the rhythms of their pastor being different.
Even if I tried to take a Monday off, I would be constantly bombarded with emails, calls, or text messages from folks who look at Monday as the first day of their workweek, after having some time off for the weekend.
In addition to this, Saturday is the only day I have to spend with my family, when the kids are in school. Since it is difficult to take even a full day off many weeks, with all of the demands of ministry, I wait until the end of the week to carve out some time to rest and reconnect.
Monday’s are hard, but they can be redeemed
Let’s be really honest. Mondays are very hard for many people who work on Sunday. Especially those whose job it is to lead the church in worship and organize the church for mission throughout the week.
But Monday doesn’t have to be a lost cause, or a mediocre day of half-rest.
Here are some practices that have helped me redeem Monday, and set myself up for success the rest of the week.
1. Have a Plan
I used to fly by the seat of my pants in ministry. I would get up on a Monday morning with only a vague notion about the shape of my week to come.
I knew what I needed to get done, but had no idea how I would fit it all into the five days before me. And because I had no plan, no schedule, I reacted to every emergency, wasted time, and came up short most weeks.
I just couldn’t seem to get everything done.
For a short while I became adept at the Saturday night special, writing until the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, grabbing a couple hours of sleep, then attempting to be fully present at church that day.
I found out very quickly that I can’t live like that. Pastoral ministry is inherently prone to long and unusual hours. Without a plan, the work never seemed to be finished and I was always playing catch-up. I had to find some structure to my week.
Then one day I listened to my good friend Chad Brook’s Productive Pastor Podcast, where he talked about Monday morning routines. It was golden.
I created some templates to help with my workflow, blocked off time on my calendar for mission critical tasks, and began instituting a Monday morning routine that get’s my week off to a great (and manageable) start.
I’ve tweaked my process several times since, and now have a routine that I can slide comfortably into at the start of every week.
2. Start Slow
Until you have been in charge of a worship service, it is hard to understand just how taxing it can be.
Sundays are emotionally and physically exhausting. And that’s when things go as planned. Add in the inevitable problems and the all-too-common negativity and complaints expressed by some church members, and bedtime can’t come soon enough for many pastors.
Go easy on yourself on Monday. If you had run a race on Sunday, you wouldn’t hop out of bed at a sprint the next morning, would you? Just as you need to rest your physical muscles after a race, you need to rest your emotional and spiritual muscles after Sunday services.
So, start slow. Don’t open your email or check your phone first thing. Eat some breakfast. Drink some coffee. Read your Bible. Ease into your day with the expectation that investing in you well-being on the front end will produce huge dividends later in the week.
3. Let Go of Sunday
Maybe this Sunday you experienced the best worship in the history of the church. Or maybe it was a little lack-luster. Any given Monday you might be flying high on the successes of the weekend, or you could be down in the dumps.
Whatever happened on Sunday, it is in the past. Let it go.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Nothing that you did on Sunday will either wreck God’s plans or bring them to fulfillment. He has already handled that part himself.
We are called to faithfulness; to showing up day after day and week after week to bear witness to what God is doing all around us as a result of Jesus and the cross.
So stop reliving the past – either the glory or defeat. Give it all. To God, trusting him to use it for his glory, and asking him to make you faithful once again today.
4. Choose Non-Critical Tasks
I find that, because I am still processing Sunday, and because I have so much to do for the coming week, the best thing I can do is to focus on non-critical tasks.
You know, those things that have to be done, but which most people have no clue that you even do.
I like to load my Monday mornings with tasks like processing my email and physical inboxes, setting up my Trello boards, following up with visitors, preparing reports, entering data into denominational systems, and reviewing my calendar and EverNote task list.
In the afternoon I write cards or make phone calls or work on worship planning tasks for the coming Sunday.
All of these things have to be done, but they don’t require me to be as fully present as sermon preparation, visitations, or other mission-critical pastoral tasks.
By blocking out my Monday for mostly administrative tasks, I ensure that I make good progress on the work of the week, while still recovering from the weekend.
5. Quit on Time
One mantra of pastor’s everywhere holds especially true: Sunday is always coming! Because we live our lives on a tight production schedule, it can be tempting to feel like we have to get everything done on the first day of the week.
If you plan your week out, instead of leaving it all to chance, there should be no need to frantically scurry about on Monday, hoping to accomplish four day’s work in one.
Pace yourself. Take a deep breath. And quit work on-time.
You have a plan for your week, and even though ministry is filled with the unexpected, your plan will help you stay on track.
Give your concerns over to God. Ask him to bless the work of the day. Then take some time to rest, reflect, and reconnect with your loved ones.
Tomorrow is a new day.
What habits do you follow to redeem your Monday’s. Share them in the comments below.