I was recently asked about my daily schedule, about my routines and such. I am willing to share this, with a couple of caveats. First, this is a calendric average, not counting periodic interruptions, like time on the road, or holidays, or having a wedding on the weekend, or the way it was twenty years ago. And second, all of this is a function of personality, current circumstances, and station in life. If someone finds some element of this helpful, great. If not, no worries. Sometimes people ask how I get it all done, and the best answer is that I don’t. If you imitate any of this, the guarantee is that you too will start not getting it all done also.
For those of you who are not sure you are up for me being quite so transparent as all this, I can assure you that I will not be posting any Instagram photographs of my breakfast.
Monday through Wednesday I go to the office around 8:30. Thursday morning the Christ Church session meets from 6 am to 7:30. Friday morning I have a men’s prayer meeting at 6:30 am followed by a breakfast together. Saturday is (for the most part) my day off (my day off would actually be a mash-up of Saturday and Sunday afternoon).
On Sunday morning I have time set aside for prayer and devotional reading prior to the services, and how much time depends on whether it is summer when we have one service a bit later, or the school year when we have two services, with the first one (of necessity) a bit earlier.
This routine would apply to Monday through Wednesday, and partially to Saturday. I get up usually around 6, shower, and go to my study. There I have my own prayer time and Bible reading. I do my Bible reading on my iPad, using Logos Bible Software, and follow it up by reading briefly through a small stack of Kindle books I am working on.
Then I take coffee back to Nancy, and we have our reading time together. Currently we are working through a book of readings from C.S. Lewis, J.B. Phillips translation of the New Testament, and the Oxford Book of Christian Verse. Then we pray for the day, for the grandkids, for particular needs, etc.
Then it is back out to my study where I try to write something trenchant for all you chirruping baby robins. (Some of you: “Well, that explains the worms.”) This is generally my blogging window, and then off to work around 8:30 as mentioned aforetime.
On Saturday morning, it is very similar to Monday through Wednesday, with the exception of a replacement of my normal blogging with material I write up for use the next day in worship. I prepare the prayers, the exhortation, the homily for the Lord’s Supper, and I read over the sermon outline again, and finalize it. Some of that I post here on Saturdays, as you may have noticed.
Meetings and Appointments
In the course of my time in the office, it is divided up into three general categories. The first is meetings and appointments, the second is teaching, and the third is studying and writing, most of which is sermon prep.
Over a Monday through Friday week, I range between 5 and 13 appointment slots taken on my calendar. These are mostly counseling appointments or pastoral visits, but would also include committee meetings for things related to the church or NSA.
I am usually teaching at least one course for NSA, which means there is a seminar early in the week (Monday or Tuesday), and a recitation later in the week where I meet with the students to ask and answer questions about their readings.
Wednesday is sermon outline day, which is largely kept free of appointments for that reason. The outline is between a thousand and eleven hundred words, and represents about a quarter of the sermon as actually preached. The outline is prepared then so that it can be incorporated into the bulletin which the office girls print on Thursday.
So Wednesday is a time for study, reading commentaries, and writing up the outline. That is usually done by early afternoon. That outline is what I preach from on Sunday, apart from the final sandpapering I might do on Saturday morning.
My father is going to be 89 this fall, and still lives independently. He has a fruitful daily ministry counseling people who come by to meet with him. But he does need help to get up and going in the morning, a responsibility I share with my two brothers who live here in Moscow. I take Thursday and Friday mornings, after my early morning meetings.
During the school year, we have an event at Canon Press called Beer & Psalms. On the way home from work, a little after five, a number of men drop in to have a pint of beer on tap, and to learn how to sing parts on various psalms and hymns.
So on Wednesdays, I get home around six, but normally around five.
One of the things that makes this all go is the fact that Nancy is amazing. Every week we launch the Lord’s Day at 6 pm Saturday night. We have the two of us, three kids, their spouses, and seventeen grandkids. We bring my dad over for sabbath, which makes us a cool 26. In the school year we have four boarders who usually join us, which brings us to 30, and we have a standing invitation to our well-beloved shirt-tail relatives, which can add another 7. We usually have company forbye, so add them, and so we usually also have quite a jolly time.
But behind it all is the fact that Nancy cooks fabulous meals for 30, 40, or more on a weekly basis. I do my little widow’s mite by setting up tables and chairs, but Nancy is the one who produces hot delicious food for the masses. Unless we are barbecuing, in which case I produce hot food for the masses. You can’t have everything all the time, and I think you shouldn’t complain about it. It was hot.
Don’t Forget Time in the Truck
Now Moscow is not that big a town, and I can get from home to work in about three or four minutes. A long haul, from one end of town to the other, might take ten minutes. But this is the time I redeem listening to books on Audible. I am currently listening to Letters to Malcolm by Lewis.
When I get home, Nancy and I usually visit for a while, catching up on the day. After that, I toddle off to watch the news, with Nancy frequently joining me. I record Special Report on DVR, which means that I can fast forward through the commercials, the stories that failed to grip, or the stories from the Middle East that are the same every time. That usually takes half an hour or a bit more.
We have dinner around 6. During the school year, we have some NSA boarders downstairs, and they join us for dinner.
Our kids and grandkids all live here in Moscow, and so during the week we frequently have someone dropping by. The kids terryhoot in the front yard, and we spend time visiting. That happens at least a couple times a week, usually more.
The evening is when I do my regular reading. I have at least four books that I try to read from daily. I have the “book I am currently reading,” which right now is Tom Reilly’s Cromwell Was Framed, a book of poetry from which I read a poem or two (currently Gerard Manley Hopkins), a work of fiction (right now it is Advise and Consent by Allen Drury), and a “bucket book,” defined as a book I really should have read by this stage in my life, but somehow have neglected to do. Right now that is Volume 1 of The Fundamentals, a collection of pamphlets from the fundamentalist/modernist controversy in the early part of the twentieth century. Except for the poetry, I read ten pages at a go.
After that, I take a short time to work on some “chip away” projects, which would be a few books I am writing at a pace of 100 words a day. This doesn’t take very long — I open the file and close it when it is 100 words longer than it was.
Once in a blue moon, when we want to live on the edge, Nancy and I will rent a movie.
Then off to bed.