And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. Acts 18:3
For the better part of my ministry, I have been bi vocational. I have, because of the size or condition of our church, had to work a secular job to support my family. As a church planter, I knew I would need to do this. However, I must admit that I struggle with it from time to time.
Being a Pastor has its own unique set of issues from the outset. Add to that a second secular job, whether full or part time, and the hill gets a lot steeper. I know there are books out on the subject. If I had time, I might read one of them.
There are several aspects to consider when the pastor is b.v.
- Fatigue: There never seems to be enough hours in a day or in a night. Sleep deprivation is often an issue. This is a seven-day work schedule. Just finding time for all those "honey-do's" around the house can be a battle.
- Identity: Sometimes you wonder; "Am I a pastor who drives a forklift, or a forklift driver who pastors a church?"
- Spiritual struggles: The biggest challenge any Christian faces is the daily walk in prayer and Bible reading. Compound that with the responsibility of a pastor and one can see the difficulty.
- Envy: The fleshly urge to envy the pastors who enjoy the benefit of a salary can be an issue. Do they know what a blessing they have? Do they take for granted what you are working so hard to achieve? Do the full time pastors I know even think of me as a pastor?
- Isolation: The b.v. pastor does not have the liberty to go all the fellowships, lunches, revival meetings and Bible conferences. Vacation time, if earned, is needed to go visit relatives or have family time. Therefore, getting our own sword sharpened becomes a need sometimes neglected.
- Divided loyalties: It is always a challenge to be all your people need you to be and still work a secular job. A pastor may only have ten, fifteen or twenty members, but those members deserve a pastor as much as the people in a church of 200.
- Family: If a pastor neglects his wife and kids for the ministry, he will eventually lose them both. Long hours cannot be an excuse for a disconnected husband or dad.
- Pride: "I deserve to be full-time; I've worked hard for it." Pride is you telling God you deserve more than He has given. I do not even think we want to go there.
First, consider the advantage of the b.v. pastor. I can look the hard-working blue collar factory worker in his weary eyes and tell him, "I know what you're going through." I know what its like to work in an environment where Christianity is not an easy thing to live.
Second, never compare. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, " For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
No man can judge the burden of another. One man's position in God's service says nothing about how he stacks up with his peers. That is true in any vocation.
Third, Just because I'm not full-time now does not mean I never will be. This is something I can work for and reach, giving me a real since of accomplishment.
One simple truth keeps me going. I have nothing to prove, and only God to please. I have learned to tell myself that every day. God is so good to me. I'm just glad I get to serve Him at all. I will write more confessions of a b.v. pastor next Tuesday.
Just a thought. Thanks for reading.