Pastoral Hobbies

This article comes from Pastor Geoff Lloyd from Wyndham on hobbies and there validity for the Pastor.

Our congregation in Southland is largely made up of farmers. They are industrious people whose work ethic is second to none. A farmer is not only the boss but lives at work and so the amount of labour each week is dictated only by their own conscience. The farming life is a relentless temptation to the workaholic as there is always more that can be done. One cartoon advert for a farm labourer reads: “Part-time position, only 80 hours a week!”

Pastoring God's people is nowhere near as physically demanding, but, like farming, it is vocational work. There is always more that can be done. Always another person worth visiting, another book worth reading and another sermon worth hearing. The temptation to workaholism is similarly present and every minister (or farmer) who is susceptible to over-working would be wise to have a reliable confidant to keep them accountable But there's another challenge facing pastors which comes in the form of guilt over giving time to hobbies that aren't explicitly spiritual in nature. We wonder ‘what will our people think if they find me reading a Tom Clancy novel, building an Air-fix kit, playing a video game or strapping on my boots for rugby training!?’

I'm not suggesting these hobbies are incompatible from our life in Christ. Whatever our passions are, they must be fields for missions. But given the nature and seriousness of ministry, should church leaders give their time to these pursuits? Is there any value, or benefit in your pastor or elders engaging in hobbies they enjoy, purely for the pleasure of them? Or should they feel guilt over what is only ever misspent time?

It is said the pastor and prolific Christian essayist F. W. Boreham, never missed a game of cricket at the Melbourne Oval. I recently found his comments regarding his hobby to be truly helpful:

I have devoted so much time to the game for 3 reasons 1) I love it. 2) I find it the most perfect holiday. If I go to the beach or the bush my mind runs on sermons and articles: if I go to cricket, I forget everything but runs and wickets. and 3) I have found it good to form a set of delightful friendships outside the circle in which I habitually move. I review quite impenitently the hundreds of long and leisurely days that I have spent at cricket.[1]

So perhaps we should heed Boreham and encourage our pastors and elders to take and enjoy hobbies. Hobbies that they 1) Love and thereby enjoy to the glory of God. 2) Hobbies that provide blessed relief from the constant thinking and meditating on sermon texts and pastoral issues. 3) Hobbies through which they will meet people whose paths they would never otherwise cross. People who might not have the chance to hear of Christ if it were not for that weird, obscure, nerdy, sporty, academic, practical or just plain fun hobby.


  1. [1]Boreham, F. W., My Pilgrimage, London, 1943, p.16

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