Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)
This is a tough commandment to keep if you work in a church. I remember one Sunday, I was sitting in my pew in an attitude of prayer (okay, I was sitting not kneeling but my head was bowed and my hands were folded); not one but two people interrupted my quiet time by tapping me on the shoulder to ask work-related questions. If something needs attention or someone needs to be found, it seems I am the “go-to” person for answers. Some Sundays I find it hard to go to church even though I love my job and my church family.
Volunteers are also subject to the call of church business on a Sunday morning. I know of one committee chair who actually admitted to leaving the parish because Sundays felt like work rather than worship. He admitted it, but how many of our key volunteers seem to attend less frequently once their term is up?
We are a community and when we get together we will look to each other for many things: fellowship in worship and support in the work that we do. I must confess that I am also guilty of talking business with volunteers on a Sunday. I realized that we ask work-related questions on Sunday because we see each other and remember we had something to ask. So I gave up trying to keep work and worship separate and focussed on balancing these two aspects of my church world.
At first, I tried (gently) reminding people that Sunday was one of my days off and asked that they send me an e-mail or call me on Monday when I could give them my full administrative attention. This approach helped – people now apologize for bothering me with work questions on Sunday! And I do get fewer questions.
I’ve also made a point of asking people about their lives outside of church – how was that vacation? How are the children doing in school? How does your garden grow? This helps to remind me that they are my church family as well as the people I work for. And I think it helps them to see me as someone other than the “church secretary.”
It’s not just about work and worship; we are a community and when we get together we will look to each other for many things – friendship, fellowship, and the roles that we play.
So how do you balance work and worship?