Today we continue our trend of looking at part time or bi-vocational ministers. The question this week is….

“What is it like having two jobs?”

Kristin Belcher

Kristin is a native of Danville, Kentucky and a graduate of the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.  Kristin is now the Operations Coordinator for the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship. After having served both with that organization and FBC Frankfort for a few years. She worked for Passport Camps for many summers. Kristin loves spending time with her nephews, Jaxon and Parker.

A growing trend in churches seems to be bi-vocational ministry.  While something can be said for the fact that Paul was also a tent-maker and most the disciples were fishermen, bi-vocational ministry is not an easy task.  Focusing on more than one job is hard.  There are plenty of people who do this in the world.  But even so, the effects of having a ministry job and a second job should not be overlooked.

First, having more than one job automatically means your focus has to shift between jobs.  With multiple calendars to juggle, advanced planning is a must.  An even harder struggle is building in time for family and rest.  There the risk that one job may be more flexible than another.  In order to take a group of youth to camp, a mission trip, or on retreat, it requires taking vacation time from another job (which offers the opportunity to empathize and understand the sacrifice of many chaperones).  If the job only offers limited vacation time, then “time off” really just translates into “time at the other job.”

Another effect is the constant struggle between passion and need.  In most cases, the passion lies in ministry.  Teaching youth, caring about congregants, keeping in touch with people and helping them grow spiritually can be a very rewarding thing.  However, if it doesn’t pay the bills then there is the necessity of the second job.  The second job may be enjoyable, but is also a means to an end.

The feeling of having to work a second job in order to follow a calling into ministry can be disheartening.  Balancing multiple schedules and meeting the demands of two different organizations can be exhausting.  These feelings can end up leading to resentment of one, if not both, of the jobs.

On a positive note, there is something to be said for having perspective and friends from outside the church.  A second job can lead to the opportunity to have conversations with people who aren’t as engrossed in church as most ministers and church members tend to be.  It can provide an opportunity to grow and develop skill sets that may be beneficial in the future.

If you are in the position of bi-vocational ministry, here are a few suggestions you might want to keep in mind:

  • Your church has hired you at part time, most likely with the understanding that you will have to work another job.  If that is the case, it’s ok to talk about your other job.  Hopefully this will help your church have realistic expectations of your available time for ministry.
  • Make time for yourself and your family.  This may mean literally blocking out a day on your calendar.  It may also mean saying “no” to good things that have been done in the past, or recruiting volunteers to lead some youth events.
  • Be aware of the expectations you place on yourself and how you spend your time.