I am a bivocational pastor, and statistics suggest I’m not alone. Lifeway Research estimates that 26 percent of all pastors have another vocation in addition to ministry.
As a bivocational pastor, striking the right balance between family, ministry, and work is often challenging. I always have more tasks to accomplish, more things to do, and more people to meet with.
But despite the challenges, I’m immensely grateful that I am bivocational. Bivocational ministry has been good for my soul — for a handful of reasons.
1. I have to submit to others.
It’s tempting for pastors to get big heads, especially when they serve in traditional churches (like mine) with one pastor. But at work, I have to submit to others in authority over me. This practice of submission is good for my soul.
2. I am less tempted to find my value and worth in ministry.
We pastors are tempted to find our identity in our churches. When things go well, we feel good. When things go poorly, we feel like a failure. But working outside the church gives me a different perspective. I have other responsibilities and interests, so I am less tempted to find my worth in others’ appraisal of my ministry — or how many people attended worship last week.
3. I have friendships outside the congregation.
I dearly love the people in my congregation. One of my core ministry convictions is that church must be a family, and my church has been that family to me. But, for better or worse, my vocation as a pastor colors our relationship. At work, I get to form friendships with people who don’t consider me their pastor. They don’t look to me for spiritual guidance or counsel. This, too, is good for my soul.
4. Working outside the church gives me a creative outlet.
Like you, I have many interests and skills. Working in these other ways gives me an outlet to use those skills to the glory of God. Not only that, my workplace experience sharpens those skills, and I can then use them to the benefit of the church.
So, bivocational ministry can be challenging, but I’m grateful for this season in my life. And if you find yourself in such a situation, be encouraged that God can use it for your good and his glory.
MDiv Preaching and Pastoral Ministry
The Preaching and Pastoral Ministry track prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with a special emphasis on expository preaching.