The Quirks of Being Bi-Vocational, part 4

(Read part 1, part 2, and part 3)

I found this interesting article a few weeks ago…and thought it applied well to our conversation. I’ll highlight some main points.

  • A second job can be a good way to make a little bit of “extra” money. I think, if you can work a second job to help you save or pay above and beyond on your debt, that is the way to go. If you have to depend on your second job to buy groceries, it might be time to consider looking for a higher paying job.
  • Find flexibility. This is especially important for ministers. My second job right now is very flexible. If I need to go to a hospital or funeral or out of town for a conference, it is very easy to do so. They understand where I am at…and that’s invaluable. It would be tough to serve two masters.
  • Communicate well with your church. I have posted my “office hours” for my congregation in the weekly bulletin. My office hours change from week to week, and the church appreciates knowing when I will be available in the office. Talk with your elders or leaders; make sure they understand your situation and are on-board. If they aren’t, work out a solution.
  • Here is a quote from the end of the article:

“Problems may arise if the extra hours you put in at the side job interfere with your main job. Say, you’re too tired to do your day job well because you were waiting tables until 1 a.m. the night before. Or you have to miss an important company retreat because you have other obligations. ‘While the extra pay is useful, the extra work does begin to wear you down physically and mentally,’ warns Randall Hansen, founder of, a career-development Web site.”


This is true. I have struggled with it. The physical and mental (and don’t forget spiritual) strain that you can feel from working two jobs can take its toll. Seek and find and maintain balance. This is not a warning to not work two jobs; as has been mentioned, it can be an amazing blessing. But, it is a call for balance.


12 thoughts on “The Quirks of Being Bi-Vocational, part 4

  1. This may have come up in a previous entry but I in many ways miss bi-voc work.

    Being a full time minister is fun and rewarding but something is missing when you spend most of your time in the office by yourself or fully immersed in handling the flock.

    By being bi-voc you can minister but still be in the world and touch lives more. I tell every that the best mission field is their own jobs. They are with those people all day and there is no better time to reach out than at work.

    So I do miss it.

  2. Good points today, Brandon, thanks for passing them along!

    I relate to all of these! For years I was immersed in full-time ministry, usually dual-role positions, and the things skubalon mentions were true for me too. I began to volunteer for a nearby organization specifically to stay in touch with non-church people.

    Right now I’m in a “tentmaking” mode while my fledgling ministry takes root and grows: Full time for a huge company that has nothing to do with ministry but everything to do with groceries, insurance and utilities 🙂 A part-time job with Church Multimedia which keeps me in touch with ministries and pastors, plus my as-yet unpaid work with worship ministries, my blog and in-person while things grow.

    The need for balance is critical. Including rest! Glad you mentioned that.

    When I find myself worn down and tired, they all suffer. Great thoughts – you are SO on-target!


  3. Skubalon…

    It is an amazing way to stay in touch with people of the “outside” world. I have read that after being a Christian for one year, most people don’t have any non-Christian friends. Having a job out in the “normal” workforce would guarantee that.

    And that’s good. But, it has its challenges as well…just like staying in the office 10 hours a day and not getting involved, as a minister, in any clubs or organizations or community efforts.

  4. Phil…for a lot of bi-vo ministers, you’re right…that job has everything to do with mortgages and utilities and groceries.

    How do you find your balance? Any insight you could share would be GREATLY appreciated.

  5. whoo-boy… GOOD question. Before I mention anything I’m using I should probably say it’s a lot like driving. There are constant corrections. Drifting right. Correct. Drifting left now. Correct back. Speed up a little – ease off the gas. So there’s constant flex. I used to think I could get it and keep it for a while. Not true. Being willing to contantly adjust has helped me alot – it’s a lot like “contstant repentance” in a spiritual vein, keeping short accounts and staying on task with the Lord. That having been said, here are a couple things I’ve found helpful.

    * Pray. A steady, always with us, kind of dialogue with the Lord is alot like contantly staying in touch with the Boss (I say that reverently) He’s there to help, to fortify, to tell me “don’t worry about that – let it go” and He empowers. Oswald Chambers said “When men work men work. When men pray, GOD works.” Prayer keeps me in that mode, and I’d rather be where God’s at work than try to do things on my own.

    * I tell God what I want to do today, this week, month, year – in detail. But I quit telling people what I’m going to do, only what I’ve actually been doing. God knows why I adjust, even prompts me to. People tend to hold me to what I say, even if I was only thinking outloud. Getting rid of that pressure (even though a lot of it was internal) was huge for me.

    * Plan blocks of time for spedific tasks. If I’m studying, I don’t have to wonder if I should be doing something else, which blurs my focus. I get more done in four-hour blocks than in an hour here and an hour there; probably has something to do with the musician in me, takes me a while to settle down and get to business. There are 15-30 minute blocks in my day -usually two- called “fuses”, for when things go long, or wrong. I nearly always use them. When I didn’t have fuses included I was almost always frustrated at my being behind.

    * I carry an inexpensive voice recorder with me so I can capture thoughts that go racing by, even when I’m driving, and put them to use later. It’s fun to see people relax when I catch my thought or idea sparked by a bit of conversation, put the little Panasonic back in my pocket and say “That’s for later. Thanks. Let’s keep going!” It helps me focus on what’s going on right now.

    * Those reminder functions on Outlook, PDA’s and cell phones really come in handy. Setting a reasonable reminder to “do this now” means I don’t always have to wonder or try to remember what’s next. I can concentrate on what’s here / now and not have internal distractions to contend with. I call Outlook “my nag with permission” and my PDA “my leather-bound brain” 😀

    * Relax and rest is expressly for that. If God rested, I probably need to too. And it’s no time to feel guilty. When I’m with family, I’m with family and NObody gets to me, unless it’s the surgeon or funeral director calling. [half-kidding] Remember the story of the two men in a logging contest? One set out frantically to out-do his opponent, pushing, pushing, pushing the limits of his endurance the whole 8-hour day. He smiled when he heard his opponent stop now and then. “Oh-GOOD, he’s wearing out, I’ve got him!” At the end of the day his opponent had convincingly out performed him! “How did you DO that? I heard you stop – several TIMES I heard you stop.” The answer came back, “That I did, to sharpen my axe and breathe.” Studies are showing we do better when we’re rested. Psalm 127:1-2 says so too.

    * Grouping activities into 4 categories based on high and low urgency and high and low importance, then focuing my energies on the high importance-low urgency quadrant is very useful – keeps me in good shape. (more on that separately if you’d like)

    That’s enough for now – It really isn’t multi-tasking, at least I can’t. It’s like a tri-athalon. This, then this, then this, each day as it comes. And the Husband-Dad job is as important as (maybe more-important than) the ones I get paid for.

    If those spark a thought or question, feel free.


  6. PS ONE calendar, for everything that concerns me. Multiple calendars multiplies my chances of double-booking or spacing something. HATE when that happens!

  7. Phil,

    Sorry it’s taken me a few days to get back to you, but…


    This is a great post. Great thoughts, good encouragement, and good for you for sharing it with us.

    I hope to draw some attention to what you are saying!

  8. Pingback: Bi-Vocational Pointers by Phil «

  9. The one struggle I had when I tried to “tent make” was that time in my ministry didn’t suffer because I had the accountability of programs that had to be done. My time spent “tent making” didn’t suffer because I had the accountability of a schedule that had to be kept.

    My personal time in the word and in prayer did suffer though-because I found myself reading but not digging, praying but not crying out. That said I would guess that my student ministries did suffer if I wasn’t as grounded as I needed to be in the things that I was teaching.

    But aside from my personal time in the Word and in prayer, my time with my family suffered. If I had to work longer at one job I would stay later at the other, cheating my family out of an type of quality time. Though my wife was very understanding she did feel cheated, like she was getting the left overs. That being said if I was unable to meet the spiritual, emotional needs of my family was I effectively meeting the needs of the students that I ministered to.

    For me I could not find a balance, maybe it was discipline, maybe it was the amount of hours “tent making,” I don’t know what it was but I never felt like I was giving my very best to any of the things that I was trying to do.

    A wise man once said “The problem is, you love your family in your heart, but you don’t love them in your schedule. And they can’t see your heart.” Andy Stanley.

    Whether we are Bi-Vocational or not we need to remember our families. That is just a lesson I learned the hard way.

  10. Pingback: On Ministry Balance « Vibrance in Ministry !

  11. Jeff,
    Thanks for stopping by, man. Are you not tent-making anymore?

    Thanks for sharing some of your ideas…you would be surprised at the number of people out there hitting my blog who are looking for some ideas as they live live bi-vocationally. Your thoughts are contributing to the conversation!

    Blessings, bro…we need to get some coffee soon!

  12. No, I had to quit. I was sacrificing too much in too many areas. Instead of tentmaking we drastically changed our lifestyle. Has been a better road for us as a family and for me personally as a youth minister.

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