Bivocational ministry isn’t for everyone. Most people struggle to manage more than one thing at a time, so the stresses that come with bivocational ministry are too difficult for some. Bivocational ministry isn’t a better way to do life or ministry. But, for some people, a bivocational lifestyle is better and even preferred.
To live a good life in bivocational ministry, you must have an aptitude in six key areas or what I call knacks.
1. Spiritual knack
I grew up in an era in which people judged your spiritual life by your daily devotional time. If I didn’t get in my quiet time each day, I felt guilty. When you’re not serving in full-time ministry, spending an afternoon in prayer and study or going away on a spiritual retreat is nearly impossible. And the reality is that most of the people you’re serving in ministry do not have a spiritual retreat option either. They just live in the world.
So if we’re going to live as missionaries in this context, we also have to learn how to grow spiritually “along the way.” While working long hours and caring for my son with epilepsy, sitting for a quiet time often meant an instant nap for me. I found it better to be up and moving while spending time with God. Figure out what rhythm works for you, and be okay with that.
2. Family knack
The family knack is your ability to integrate your spouse and kids into mission. A way we involved our kids was allowing them to lead our missionary community once a month. One time, my daughters wanted to project a movie on the side of our house and invite their friends to watch. So, the adults in our missioary community helped the kids create invitations to give out at school with a note for parents that we would also have a coffee bar for the adults who wanted to hang around. That movie night was a natural integration to involve both adults and kids in our missionary community.
3. Financial knack
As a bivocational minister, you must be able to manage the multiple buckets from which money comes. If you feel insecure about your finances, it doesn’t mean the automatic solution is to make more money. None of us should be tied up in the nervousness of financial tension. Use it as an opportunity to grow. Ask people you respect to mentor you financially to best steward your resources.
4. Relational knack
Sometimes, people want to serve in bivocational ministry, but they don’t want to serve in relational ministry. The whole point of the bivocational life is that you spend time with other people. You have to learn how to be with people.
Be mindful of your spouse and kids, especially of social anxiety if people are often in your home. We communicated with our daughters often to tell them who was coming over. When we opened our home to other people, it also gave us opportunities to disciple our girls through the experience.
5. Personal knack
As a bivocational minister, you must run your own life. You and your spouse should take ownership of your schedule. Be in charge. Designate time to spend with people and coordinate with your work schedule. A common dilemma for couples in bivocational ministry is “What will my in-laws think?” Address the expectations that may be pulling you away from true missionary life and how to best spend your time.
6. Missionary knack
I don’t think there’s any reason to serve in bivocational ministry unless you’re willing to live life in community. The community is the witness to the culture. Meeting one really cool Christian is likely not going to get someone over a wall of negative assumptions about what they think we are. So building a true incarnational, missional community will be a key knack.
This content by Hugh was adapted from our Bivocational Ministry course.
Published November 18, 2017