7 Things I Have Learned about Myself While Being Bivocational
Hi. My name is Philip and I am a bivocational pastor.
For over four years, I’ve served as a bivocational minister with The Fellowship. It is a group of people that I love deeply and pray fervently for each day. As I’ve served them, I’ve learned a few lessons about myself while being bivocational. These lessons and more help me to remember that the church is a place where every believer is necessary and I’m happy to play my part.
1. I have it easier than many other bivocational pastors. Let me get this right out of the way. The structure of our church and my full-time job actually make ministry easier. It makes me even more thankful for the untold number of bivocational pastors throughout the world. If you are bivocational, let me just say it: We all know you’re killing yourself to get ministry done. We appreciate you. Call me anytime that you need encouragement or help.
2. Studying for sermons, when done right, exhausts me. I love it but it is a tiring process. When I skip the real work of digging in, I don’t get tired. But I also preach poorly. When I study as is necessary to present God’s Word as it is needed to our church and the world, then it is the best kind of tired you can experience.
3. Being Superman props up my ego and that is a bad thing. All leaders are presented with the temptation to be the all-in-one, fix everything hero for the church. We chose a path to share leadership and it has been good for my soul.
4. The calling to bivocational ministry is often uneasy. With the excessive knowledge of whose church is the largest and what ministries are booming, it sometimes feels defeating that “I’m just part-time.” Having a church that deeply loves the mission of God and my family overshadows my fitful emotions.
5. My threshold for “working too much” is different from other people. But that is okay because I’ve come to believe that everyone has a slightly different threshold. The key for me is this: Know the threshold and respect it. For me, I enjoy the work of my life so it is often done without a laborious feeling.
6. Accepting gratitude from people is difficult and necessary. People will say things like “That was a great sermon” or “Thanks for preaching this funeral” and it is sometimes tough to accept their thankfulness. But, it is a good thing to accept it. Deflecting it may feel like the spiritual, God-fearing leadership, teaching moment thing to do. But it is a good thing for me to be encouraged by others just as I seek to encourage them.
7. Spiritual warfare has a lot to do with friendships. I am most attuned to the spiritual warfare against our church when I am relationally close to other leaders in our church. Rather than solely focusing on the macro-issues of culture and community, I am a better shepherd to people when I also give attention to the individual lives of my friends in the church.
I am blessed to have a vocation that is centered on serving the church. May I be found worthy of the calling when this life is done.