Help for the Bi-Vocational Pastor

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  • Today’s post is a guest post by Michael McDaniel, who serves as pastor of the Northeast Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Michael, who was a bi-vocational pastor for six years, recently taught a session for bi-vocational pastors at the E.K. Bailey Expository Preaching Conference. He was kind enough to share some thoughts from his session with us. You can reach Michael here.

    Someone referred to bi-vocational pastors as “Iron Men.” I agree.

    Bi-vocational pastors face unique challenges…

    • Time. Do I have enough time to get everything done?
    • Balance. How can I maintain proper priorities?
    • Self-Confidence. Will I ever find relief in my current situation?

    These are just a few pressures the bi-vocational pastor faces. And there are many more.

    Research suggests that over fifty percent of all pastors are bi-vocational.  Interestingly, many of these men entered into bi-vocational ministry intentionally. Some do so with the intent to transition to full-time, while others intend to remain bi-vocational.

    There are two ways of thinking about bi-vocational ministry.

    • There are some who recognize the legitimacy of bi-vocational ministry. Period.
    • There are some who conclude that all bi-vocational pastors should strive to go full-time.

    No matter where you fall on this subject, the bi-vocational pastor needs believing prayer, a clear plan and much encouragement.

    Let’s take a closer look at the journey of those who have two jobs and one ministry.

    In the Bible, we see several personalities who were bi-vocational. Some of them are: Priscilla, Aquila and, the poster child of bi-vocational ministry, the Apostle Paul.

    When you think about all the contributions of the Apostle Paul, one would have to agree that you get done what you spend time doing. As a bi-vocational pastor, its imperative to get first things accomplished first.

    Here is my encouragement to all of you who are bi-vocational pastors.

    Guard your family time. Your family is your first and paramount ministry. The way you love and cherish your family will help you serve your people and lead your ministry in a greater way. Unfortunately, some prominent pastors have successful ministries, but their families were collateral damage. Don’t follow their bad example. Make your family your priority.

    Guard your God time. God calls us to be something before he calls us to do something. “The ultimate and abiding secret strength of a pastor,” said W.A. Criswell, “lies in his daily walk with God” Your personal relationship with the Lord is more important than any sermon you deliver about him. If you will become an effective bi-vocational pastor, guard your devotional life at all costs. Your ability to effectively minister is in direct proportion to his personal spiritual development. Spend time with God. It’s the most import thing you will ever do as a preacher.

    Guard your me time. Remember to make time for yourself. If you don’t have time for yourself you won’t be any good for others. By maintaining “me time” you can take care of your physical, emotional, and relational needs. Jesus himself often removed himself from the crowd for himself.

    Every preacher needs to develop healthy habits. Do something that you enjoy and find relaxing. “To thine own self be true.” Be good to yourself.  And you will be better prepared to serve others. A lack of balance in this area can cause physical damage.

    Plan your preaching. I would also suggest that the bi-vocational pastor develop a preaching plan. Know where you’re going before you get there. This will help you maintain a healthy balance for ministry. Failure to plan can be detrimental.

    Trust God. The last thing I will say to anyone in bi-vocational ministry is to trust God for the results of your efforts. Without the Lord, we can do nothing (John 15:5). The one who called you will give you what you need for the journey.

    As Jesus found joy on His way to the cross, I pray that you find joy in your ministry.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.

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