Thinking Through Time Management: The Pastor’s Guide


This post offers practical guidance on effective time management for pastors, focusing on prioritizing family, leveraging personal strengths, minimizing unnecessary meetings, selecting the right people to engage with, and ensuring dedicated thinking time for better church leadership.


If I asked you to estimate your working time without glancing at your calendar, what would you say?

For many of us, most of our time seems to be swallowed by a monster named MEETINGS.

As a pastor, your time allocation is critical. After 15+ years in church leadership, I understand the tightrope you walk between fulfilling your responsibilities and maintaining a sense of sanity.

Between preaching, teaching, counseling, administrative duties, volunteer trainings, and even hospital visits, your schedule is packed! But let’s face it – as leaders, we have the power to manage our time more effectively.

Mastering the Art of Time Management for Pastors

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

As a lead pastor, I spent many years feeling like a juggler with too many balls in the air. But here’s the truth – balance in pastoral leadership may not be about keeping all balls in the air but rather knowing which ones to catch and which to let drop.

I came to understand that balance meant ensuring my time was intentionally allocated to the right activities and the right people.

Not all tasks are equally important, and not everyone deserves a slice of your valuable time. 

It’s time we take charge of our time rather than let it control us.

5 Crucial Areas in Effective Time Management for Pastors

1. Family First

“Someone else will one day come along and have your job, but you don’t ever want another person to come along and be a better spouse to your wife or husband or better father or mother to your kids.” These words from Andy Stanley hit hard. If we are going to cheat someone or something, let’s not make it our spouse and children.

Read this, too: 5 Strategies to Bring Your Best Back Home

2. Playing to Your Strengths

God has blessed you with unique skills and passions. Embrace these gifts. The secret of successful church leadership often lies in effective delegation and outsourcing.

If you refuse to give away tasks and responsibilities, not only will your time suffer, you’ll rob others of an opportunity to do what they are uniquely gifted to do. 

NOTE: Delegation is a powerful leadership development option that helps you and everyone around you. You can read more here: The Four Levels of Delegation, The Five Steps of Effective Delegation. I also offer a course to help leaders delegate better (among other things): Your Leadership Toolbox 

3. Say No to Pointless Meetings

Remember, just because there’s a slot in the calendar doesn’t mean it needs to be filled with a meeting. Only call for a meeting if it brings value to everyone involved.

This goes for weekly meetings, too. 

4. Meet with the Right People

It may sound harsh, but not everyone needs your time, even if they think they do. 

When I was a lead pastor, I attempted to meet with everyone who requested my time. At least initially. Over time, I realized this was unrealistic. 

My solution: Prioritize fully engaged members and individuals seeking answers about faith.

5. Set Aside Time for Thoughtful Leadership

Leadership, especially in a church setting, requires space for contemplation and planning. Allocate time for thinking, learning, and innovation.

Being in church leadership isn’t about being everywhere, attending every meeting, or having a constantly open door. It’s about thoughtful time management, allocating time where it matters most, and leading with intention. 

Remember, your congregation needs a leader, not a body.