I’ve always been curious of how other pastors and church leaders work. So I shamelessly ripped of Lifehacker.com’s How I Work series and began to ask other church leaders questions about their work.
Samuel S. Nam
About Samuel in 240 Characters or Less:
Elder in the California Pacific Conference. Married with three kids. Go Dodgers and Lakers.
Location: Kaneohe, Hawaii
Ministry: Pastor of Parker United Methodist Church
One word that describes how you work: chaordic
Current Mobile Device: iPhone 7
Current laptop: MacBook Pro
Describe a recent work day –
After dropping off my oldest daughter at preschool, I usually like to take a brisk walk while listening to Scripture (see#4 below). I’m usually in the office by 9am and I like to reserve the morning hours to administrative work and emails. I try to schedule in some type of visitation during my Wed and Thur lunch hours but I keep this flexible: on occasion I will head out to meet someone for lunch and sometimes, I will use that time to do phone visitations and call my homebound church members.
Gadgets/apps/tools that you cannot live without –
Not sure if I’d say I can’t live without it but I like my Fitbit because it keeps track of my sleep and my steps. When your fitbit starts buzzing because you hit your daily step goal, the dopamine rush is real.
But then I recently discovered that sudden hand gestures will trigger steps as well, so one round of washing the dishes makes it seem like I just walked five miles. Oh well.
What’s your workspace setup like –
Because of my family situation (3 kids ages 4 and under) I work mostly from my church office. Our parsonage is on the church campus so I walk out my garage and in 30 seconds, I’m in my office.
Before kids, I enjoyed working at coffee shops or on college campuses (back when I did college ministry). These days, it’s all about proximity to my wife and twins in case she needs my help. My wife is the real MVP.
Best short-cut/life hack –
It isn’t much of a hack but I am trying to combine my morning exercise (which right now consists of walking in circles around my church campus) and my Scripture intake. The YouVersion Bible app has audio versions available for certain translations. The app also has all sorts of Bible reading plans that can keep you on track. One practice that I am trying this year is to listen through the Gospels each month. To change up my routine and spice things up a little (as if the Gospels needed any additional spice) I will also listen to the Psalms and let me tell you, listening to the Psalms is quite an experience. I never realized how emotional certain Psalms were until I heard a narrator read through them with such passion and timbre.
If you give it a shot, try the NLT. The NIV guy reads in monotone but the NLT bro reads with pasión and has sound effects.
How do you keep track of what you have to do –
Google Calendar. It’s on all my devices and it tells me what to do, who to meet, and sometimes, when to eat.
As for my weekly work schedule, I put it all down in broad strokes on a piece of paper entitled, “Sam’s weekly schedule.” I shared this paper with my SPRC and they gave me their blessing. I follow this sheet to the best of my ability to get my weekly tasks done for my church.
What’s one of the least favorite aspects of what you have to do –
There is a real temptation to tie your self-worth with the ebb and flow of ministry. When the church is full of excitement and passion and things are moving and shaking, you feel good. When ministry is down in the dumps and nobody likes you and people hate your sermons, you feel like crawling into a hole. And while I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “least favorite aspect,” I do try and live in greater self-awareness so that I avoid the excesses of pride or the pits of despair that can come upon you when you are tempted to base your identity on your successes or failures as a pastor. A book that helps me stay grounded is In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen.
Passion/Side Project –
There are days where I feel like pastoral ministry is my side project because of the sheer amount of time and energy I spend helping to raise three little kiddos. But I would have to say that my passion and preoccupation these days are my children.
Blogging, DIY projects, learning a new language, traveling the world and the seven seas – these are all sweet dreams and will all have to take a back seat for the time being.
What gives you joy about your work –
My philosophy of ministry has pretty much stayed the same for the past 16 years – to raise up disciples who will go further than I ever could imagine. This is my take on the passage in John’s Gospel where Jesus talks about the kernel of wheat being planted so that its death can produce many more kernels.
Of course, Jesus was speaking of himself as that kernel of wheat but as a disciple, I embrace this passage as a spiritual truth and invitation for all who wish to follow after Jesus. I receive great joy when I see former students, church members, and fellow disciples doing Kingdom work in ways that I never could.
Currently reading/books to recommend
- Team of Teams:New Rules of Engagement For a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal
- Redeeming Sex by Debra Hirsch
- Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue