The stresses of bi-vocational ministry…

October 1, 2007

As you probably know, last week I was ill – the sickest I can recall ever being. Though it was a hard time, I do now feel blessed that I can say that ‘Strep Throat’ is the sickest I’ve ever been. Some are not so blessed with good health.

During my days off I found a significant amount of time to catch up on my reading. I dug into the Word more than I have in quite a while, read a few chapters in Noel Due’s dense, but rewarding Created to Worship, and the first half of James Dobson’s excellent Bringing up Boys.

Finding so much time to read, and pray – to re-focus on God – I was reminded of my years with Wordwide Discipleship Association as a Campus Minister. Yes, I had to go to a few meetings, and do a number of administrative tasks, as well as raise my own salary via personal support raising, however as someone in full-time ministry, I was ALWAYS in the Word, either preparing for a sermons/discipleship meeting/Bible study, to counsel and mentor younger guys one-on-one, preparing for leading corporate worship when we gathered, and in my own quiet times. I swam in the Word because my environment was Word saturated, even though my ‘office’ was a secular coffee shop, in the midst of a university atmosphere. In that setting I found it EASY to constantly pursue God – to ‘pray without ceasing’.

These days I work 40+ hours a week taking minutes for meetings, making bank deposits, and writing grants, and though I’ve been fairly successful at carving out time to prepare and lead services for our High School & Jr. High ministries, and occasionally for ‘big church’ on Sunday A.M., and to mentor and raise up younger worshipers/worship leaders, when I tag that – MY PASSION – onto family obligations, keeping up a house, and even occasionally running live sound at weddings to make enough extra cash to set a little aside for a rainy day – after it’s all finished, finding time to ‘get close to God’ is a real struggle. It’s work.

Sure, I can get in 15 minutes here and there, but finding time to go DEEP, as I once did daily – those opportunities are simply not there. I have great admiration and sympathy for the ‘lay-Christian’, working full-time, yet volunteering at church. The gift of their time and effort is unmeasurable.

Do any of you struggle to ‘grow’ your faith, or even just to ’till the soil’, so God can bring the growth? What works for you?

I was justing thinking about this because I found the time to go on our church’s staff retreat this week, but due to my illness last week will probably have to skip out on some of it, but having not taken a real ‘vacation’ in over 2 years, this retreat – as much as I can take it – is much needed. Right now I’m REALLY feeling my ‘lack’. Thanks for your input.


5 Responses to “The stresses of bi-vocational ministry…”

  1. Matthew said

    I’ve never had the opportunity to be full time in ministry. The closest experience I had was being in college 18 hours a semester and ministry. Those days were good. We built a young adult ministry that was flourishing. After graduating, I continued working PT for the church but got a FT job. I’ve found “success” in the workplace and I love what I do there – but my heart longs to be full time in ministry.

    We’re a church plant and I now oversee small groups, music, lighting, audio, videos (which we do a ton of), have a small group, and try to disciple other men. It’s intense right now. I’m working 40 hours a week for each job, and could easily put in another 20 at the church.

    I’m actually growing weary and feeling pretty ineffective. I’m extremely hands on, so I feel disconnected from the people and processes for everything I’m overseeing. I’m all about spending hours a day with people – and that’s what I’m missing the most – it pushes me to know the character of Christ even better.

    I’m in the middle of praying hard through how to organize things to make me more effective – but the process getting there is wearing on me. I hope you discover exactly how you’re supposed to handle your situation right now and hope you’ll pray for me a second as well!


  2. I find that I tend to associate my ‘job’ with my relationship with God. My study for teaching is my devotion, my preparation for worship is my worship, my blogging is my community, and it goes on and on. So I constantly have to recenter and refocus.

    btw – matthew, praying for you brother. I was bi-vocational for about 7 years, waiting on God’s timing. It was hard, fun, challenging, all at the same time. I pray that God blesses you with joy and contentment!

  3. Billy Chia said

    “Do any of you struggle to ‘grow’ your faith, or even just to ’till the soil’, so God can bring the growth?”

    Absolutely. I find daily “quiet time alone with God” isn’t always the magic cure all. I find talking about and sharing what God is teaching me as well as listening to others really pushes me forward.

    With that said I really feel ya on the blessing that “forced” downtime can be. I’ve been pushing hard all week and I’m looking forward to some sabbath tomorrow.

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  5. frdaddy said

    I appreciate your openess with the issues that I believe all Bivocational ministers deal with day in and day out. Lets face it, we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love Jesus. There is just not enough “reward” here on earth where moths corrupt…to sacrifice so much. That said, what we are willing to do for the sake of the Gospel, is an incredible testimony to the incredible riches we have found with all the saints in Jesus Christ. It is worth it. No regrets. Never for get the reason, the purpose, the “why” that underlies all that you do. All for Jesus! Fr. Bob

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