Does God still call people to become a bivocational pastor? Most young pastors probably assume that, of course, God wants them to receive a salary from their church that compensates for all their family’s financial needs (and if the budget’s not there, then that’s what GoFundMe is for!) so that they can focus solely on the one job without being distracted by meaningless, secular part-time work elsewhere. But could it be that our all-providing Father in heaven actually has the audacity to want you working outside the church to both provide financial assistance as well as keep you in the mission field and utilizing the spiritual gifts he has given you?
You better believe it, you UPS-loading, Starbucks-serving, phone-answering vessel of God!
If we were created and placed on earth to glorify God and tell the world about him, then it makes sense to me that, more often than pastors are realizing today, God is calling them to find ways to remain bivocational. And that is not because you’re not a good enough pastor to have a larger church but because you’re needed way too much in the workplace!
If you are currently a bivocational pastor, or perhaps in the future you fear the decreasing budget of your church may cause you to be one, first and foremost you need to recognize that this is what God has called you to. God does not use stop-gap measures; everything he does is intentional. So even if he plans to only be asking you to memorize complicated fancy coffee orders for six months, he has called you there for a purpose: to glorify him and to love others as Jesus loves them.
Secondly, if you find yourself answering phones, spraying for termites, or fixing bicycles, do not treat this as your secondary job that always takes a back seat to your “important job” at the church. Whether you have two, three, or eight separate jobs, give your absolute best in every way, not compromising in your effort or your integrity in even the most mundane job. The apostle Paul, who made a living as a tentmaker, said, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). That’s right—all of it. Tentmaking, car washing, shoe selling, “Welcome to Moe’s!”–shouting. Everything you do, “all for the glory of God.”
Thirdly, pray that God would give you the same heart for the people you cross paths with at your work as he has. As Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Unless your second job is part of another Christian ministry, this is the mission field God has called you to love and serve. The people you interact with at work are not obstacles keeping you away from your “real job.” They are the sick, and you are the doctor God has given them. Get to know them. Love them. Be the salt and light Jesus has commanded you to be.
Lastly, if your work at the church is full-time and you do not need the extra money nor can you sacrifice the extra hours away from your family, find another way to work in the community among the unchurched who need some salt and light in their lives. The truth is, every pastor is called to be bivocational—you simply may not get paid by all of your jobs. But make no mistake, God has not called you “out of the world” but has you “in the world.” Don’t let your full-time pastorship take you out of ministry work.
Kevin Harvey is the author of two books, his most recent being All You Want to Know about the Bible in Pop Culture. He also writes at BibleInPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter under the handle @PopCultureKevin.