“What do you do?”
It is a question that often comes up in some form, as we get to know others in the world around us. What we do is an essential part of the Western mindset. We are defined by our work, and the things we actually do in life. That is why we often get quickly to asking others what they do and share what we do, as we meet.
The way I introduce myself in over twenty years of ministry has changed quite a bit. I used to be enthusiastic about say, “I’m a minister at such and such church.”
However, my experience has been to see people shut-down, close up, or even look with near disgust at me. Many people in secular work look on ministers as lazy, out of touch with reality, not really working, and so separate from reality that their conversation must change around us.
I have been a bi-vocational minister since day one of ministry. I’ve had to work to pay the bills and do what I can to help out the ministries I am a part of. So, I have noticed the difference even more than some full-time minister’s may. You see when I say, I am a writer, or I am a Substitute teacher, or I teach people are far more open to talk with me. They do not look down on my work, or give an attitude that I can’t relate to them.
The reality is that among churches, minister who are not bi-vocational, leaders above, and others within the church I often feel looked down on in other ways. Attitudes that we can’t possibly understand the pressure of parishioner’s needs or the demands of serious preparation. Some even act like I am merely a part-time minister.
Reality check: For most pastor’s there is no such thing as Part time
We can’t be part-time, when our heart and soul ache for the communities we are a part of. We don’t work 9-5 services within ministry, but are ministering at our secular jobs, in our schools, factories, restaurants, and other businesses. Our time in preparation is just as important to us as someone who has the freedom to shut off the phone or hide behind a wall of secretaries and “devote time to study”.
Be encouraged Bi-vocational brother’s and sister’s
You are appreciated. God has given you this calling, and while the world may not understand your ministry calling, and ministers may not understand the work in the world; you are called to this place in ministry. God appreciates your heart and soul. Most of the time your congregations appreciate you far more than they may indicate, many times, because they know you can understand their daily struggles in a world where the majority of people are working two or more jobs.
Don’t be discouraged, or overwhelmed. Don’t let others dictate what God is telling you to do in your heart and ministry. Instead find time to be refreshed in him, in the busy schedules that you live and work in. And, find strength from others who might be going through the same thing.
We may feel alone, but we are not alone.
God is with us. There are many other ministers who are bi-vocational than we likely even realize. So cheer-up and serve the Lord with Gladness of heart.