I’m often asked how I find the time to do the things that I do. For example, a couple of days ago, Bert asked the following in a comment:
How do you find time to pastor, work full time, work on your PhD, and blog meaningful posts regularly? I have often said that there is no such thing as a part-time pastor so where did you find the extra hours in the day?
In this blog post, I’m going to discuss everything except pastoring. I’ll discuss pastoring in another post later.
To start with, like everyone else, I am only given 24 hours each day. And, while I try to be a good steward of my time, I will admit that I often waste time doing unproductive things. Also, you should know that I read and write quickly. I am not trying to brag, its just a fact of life. My wife would be the first to tell you. I also try to plan ahead, especially for school work. If I know that I have a paper due, I start it very early to give myself plenty of time to do the research and to write the paper.
First, I work full time as a web developer for the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’ve been working in this capacity for just over 5 years, and I love it! Not only do I get to work with awesome people, they are also very flexible with my work hours which allows me to take classes. One thing that helps with my time management on the job is that I take a very short lunch break. I almost always bring my lunch from home, and I have found that it does not take me an hour to eat my lunch. So, that saves me alot of time each week.
Second, I teach adjunctively for Southeastern College at Wake Forest, which is associated with the seminary. In fact, my class is located about 100 yards from my office – very convenient. I only teach one class – New Testament Greek – for 3 hours per week. I have also set aside one day per week when I meet with students for a coffee break for about 30 minutes. Besides this time, my students know that I’m always available outside of class, and I have even given them my home and cell phone numbers.
Third, I am a Ph.D. student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’m currently taking two seminars – one in the Gospel of John and the other in Old Testament Theology. These seminars meet for a total of 5 hours each week. We also have a heavy reading and writing load to go along with these seminars. This semester, my writing load is shifted to the second half of the semester, so I have not started writing yet. Most of my reading will be finished by the time I start writing. Like I said, I read and write fast. This takes me less time that most people think, but it still takes alot of time.
Fourth, I am a husband and a father. I probably should have put this first – it would have been more spiritual. I always try to set aside time for my family, and Margaret, my wife, helps me with this. We usually eat dinner together at night, and occasionally, Margaret and I will have lunch together during the day. I try to do very little school work on the weekends in order to set that time aside for family. (Although, sometimes I have to read and write at night.) Also, I choose to read and write at home instead of at the library. I realize that there are probably more distractions at home, but those distractions are my life. The distractions are more important than my studies. I can fail at school and remain obedient to God, but I cannot fail in my marriage and as a father and remain obedient to God.
Finally, I blog. I have been blogging here at The Assembling of the Church for almost two years. I’ve talked to several people in person about the way that I blog, and it seems to be unique. I rarely, if ever, write a blog post in one sitting. I always keep a long list of “draft” blogs that I’m working on. (Currently, I have 15 blog posts in “draft” mode that are in various stages of completion.) I work on these “draft” posts 10 or 15 minutes at a time whenever I have time. For example, I will often work on blog posts when I’m taking a break from reading or writing. When I publish a blog post, I probably started writing it several days – sometimes several months – before I finally publish it. Sometimes, as with this post, I write on specific posts in order to finish them, but usually I don’t care when I finish a post. (Even this post, which I wanted to finish quickly, took me several days of writing in small increments of time.) The exception would be when I’m writing a series. I’m usually 75-100% finished writing a series before I publish the first post. So, blogging takes a very small amount of time for me.
There are several aspects of my life that allow me to do the things that I do, the most important being the grace of God. The graciousness and concern of my family also plays a huge role in allowing me to work, go to school, and publish this blog (which I consider to be part of my studies and discipleship). Also, the fact that I work, teach, and attend classes on the same campus saves me alot of commuting time. Finally, my ability to read and write fast makes it look as if I spend much more time reading and blogging than most people realize. This routine works for me and my family for now. Things may change, and if they do, I can promise you that my family will not be left out of my schedule.