It is an immensely glorious, yet difficult task to be a bi-vocational pastor. I have seen and heard of the struggles from my own bi-vocational pastors. It is something that takes discipline, dedication, and gobs of grace. As I prepare to enter into the bi-vocational pastorate myself, I want to revel in the grace that God gives to the bi-vocational minister by writing to that pastor and my future self.
Dear bi-vocational pastor,
God loves you with an everlasting love that is signed, sealed, and secured by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Your sins have been wiped clean and “righteous” is your verdict. Your work to keep the lights on in the day and ministry on nights and weekends is hard. Not to mention the family God may have given you to shepherd as well. It’s tiring, it’s grimy, and the lights don’t shine brightly. But in the grease of everyday work and ministry, the grace of God shows itself great. Don’t give up. Don’t have a self-pity-party. The living God of Heaven and Earth has called you to preach His Word and shepherd His people. There is no nobler task than to deliver good news to weary souls week-in and week-out. Don’t be grouchy. Don’t be jealous of other pastors who get paid a living to do the same work that you do for free. This is God’s will for you right now. You are no less of a pastor than our vocational brothers who labor alongside us. Don’t shun them, but let them be an encouragement to you, as we work for the same Lord. You may live, work, minister, and die in obscurity, having preached and walked through life with the same 50 people for 50 years. Your reward will be great.
Be disciplined, have a vision, and plan ahead. But don’t ever condemn yourself for writing your sermon on Saturday night. After all, the vocational “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon, wrote his sermons on Saturday. The work is hard, the time is short, and the results may not be gaudy – but they will be eternal. It is God Himself who puts into effect our work as He sees fit; rest in that.
Bi-vocational pastor, there is grace for you. Grace upon grace, in fact. Jesus loves you. He sees your labor, and it is not in vain. Our Heavenly Father smiles upon you with joy. He cherishes you and wants you. In bi-vocational ministry, His grace is sufficient for you, and His power is made perfect in your many weaknesses. No matter how deep, dark, and long the valley of the shadow of death may be, Jesus is yours, and you are His. One day, there will be no more curse-laden work to be done. On that day when the fruits of your labor are revealed, you will have nothing more to do but enjoy eternal rest in our dear Savior and friend, Jesus Christ.
Grace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ,