Why the Bivocational Life Makes For Good Pastors
Work and ministry are not mortal enemies.
I know that none of us wants a job, because having a job is so normal, and rigid and bourgeois. It’s unbecoming to a person who is destined to greatness. I can’t possibly be here, or there, every single day, doing the same exact things, with the same exact people, people who have never done anything important, people who are perfectly content to never do anything important! I was meant for more! I’m management material!
Maybe you’ve heard people say these things. Perhaps you’ve said these things. Or at least thought them.
A couple thoughts:
1. ‘Work’ and ‘ministry’ are not mortal enemies. They are the left and right hands of process and progress. Every meaningful endeavor in life contains a certain amount of grinding. There is an intestinal fortitude that comes from showing up every day, holding course and not giving up. It is the very same resolve one will need to accomplish ‘greater things.’
2. Being broke makes for great stories, but not much else. It’s pretty unreal how a steady paycheck and a few hundred bucks can change what’s possible in the immediate here and now. I’ve also noticed that people are willing to be more generous with an artist or pastor who is already working. How many times has an artist or missionary asked me for money, and in my head I’m thinking, “You could just get a job, right?”
3. There is a part of work, even really hard, physical labor, that ennobles and dignifies human life. To wake in the morning and build something, or complete a project, has an illuminating effect on the human spirit. I know that lots of people are miserable in their jobs, but people without a job are even more miserable. One of the best ways to fight depression and malaise is to go to work.
4. Abraham, Moses and David were all shepherds, Noah built a boat, Boaz was a farmer, Peter was a fisherman, Paul was a tentmaker, and Jesus was a carpenter — they all had a common life before they had an extraordinary life. In fact, one is a foundation for the other.