I spent my first few years of ministry as a bi-vocational pastor. For those who may not know the term, I sought other work to supplement my income I received as a pastor.
I still have a heart for those who hold down two jobs—sometimes both of them approaching full-time. Additionally, I think more pastors are going to have to consider bi-vocational ministry in the years ahead as economies change and the level of committed givers in the local church. (A great book on this change—and change to come potentially—is a book by a friend of mine, John Dickerson, titled The Great Evangelical Recession.
I love assisting pastors and especially want to help these dedicated servants. Let me share a few things I learned and have observed from working with other bi-vocational pastors.
I’m going to share five suggestions of things you should do, followed by five suggestions of things you should not.
Things you should do
Be accountable – Let people speak into your life. You may feel more independent if you’re not dependent on the church for your total income, but you still need accountability—like we all do.
Be disciplined – You have to stay healthy in all areas of your life. We all do, but you have more pressure on you to do so.
Be organized – Have someone help you if needed, but develop systems to do everything you have to do in a week. I find the busier I am and the more I am doing, the more structure I need to provide myself. There will always be interruptions, but you’re better be prepared for them when you start your week with a plan.
Be intentional – It’s hard work, but you have to keep both business and church worlds running well—and still be a good family man. It will require intentionality on your part.
Be diligent – In all areas of your life, you must do your best. Your witness is at stake.
Things you shouldn’t do
Complain to the church – It’s tempting, because the work is hard. They should know you do—and hopefully they will give you consideration for it. But, it’s not fair to them to hear you complain about it all the time.
Lose sight of vision – The reason you are doing what you are doing is to complete the call God has on your life. And, what you do is valuable. Life-changing. Eternal.
Let yourself burnout – Stay healthy physically, relationally and emotionally. Again, let people speak into your life who recognize when you are stretching yourself too far.
Allow one world to outshine the other – This is the hard part, but you have to be good in all your worlds if you’re going to continue. You’ll need God’s strength, but, again, it’s your witness.
Neglect your family – Here’s another hard one, but they are your first commitment. They will be there after either vocation.
I’m pulling for you, but one key to your success long-term will be to continually improve personally, so you can do more professionally. Ask God to help you with that.
Have you ever had to balance dual careers? What advice would you give?