The Challenge of Bivocational Ministry

This week my “day” job started by up again. My day job is teaching English Language Arts and Reading to 7th graders. People usually feel that I am a glutton for punishment; I pastor a church AND teach rambunctious junior high students about all the grammar they want to forget.  But this is because the Lord has seen fit to bless me with a unique challenge: bivocational ministry.

I will be candid with you: bivocational ministry is a challenge. If you read any pastor blog, magazine or journal, you will be confronted with the fact that the modern pastor is required to wear many hats: preacher, prayer leader, hospital visitor, funeral conductor, administrator, social media marketer, bathroom cleaner, yard mower and cat wrangler. What is required of most pastors today is daunting. Now imagine that you must squeeze those pastoral duties around an 8-to-5 job, family life and marriage. You see why bivocational ministry is a challenge, don’t you? So how do I and the numerous other bivocational pastors out there make it through the day? 

The obvious and important answers are there: prayer (and lots of it), Bible reading (not just for sermon preparation, but for the soul), good friends, etc. But I want to point your attention to something that his sometimes forgotten in the rush of things.

I don’t have two jobs; I have two vocations.

The word vocation is not used much any more. You do not here on the news about vocational creation. You hear about job creation. But a job and a vocation could not be further apart. A job is something a person does to earn money to make ends meet; jobs are good, but they are not vocations. A vocation is a calling upon someone’s life to do something; it is someone’s calling. I have multiple callings in my life: being a good father and husband, being a good citizen.

But vocationally, I have been called to two things: to pastor a local church and to teach 7th graders to read and write well.

So if you are a bivocational minister, remember your callings. God has placed you in your church for a reason and God has placed you in your “day” job for a reason. Don’t view your “day” job as a burden. Your “day” job is not just something you are doing until you hit the big time and are a fully-funded pastor. God has called you to that vocation, so work hard and do your best there.

If you a church member in a church with a bivocational pastor, pray for him daily and show grace. Pray that he would lead his family well. Pray that he would make time for the important things, like wrestling with the kids or reading out loud to them. Show grace when he doesn’t answer his phone during the day, or when he doesn’t answer that email as promptly as you like. He is doing his best, but he is busy. Pray that he would answer the challenge of bivocational ministry not in his own strength, but in the strength given to him by Christ.

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