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July 16, 2016

The “Perfect” Bivocational Job?

By Ben Connelly

In my previous article, I tried to build a case for bivocational ministry. If the content resonates with you, or if you’re bucking against it but know in your heart that we’re onto something, it’s time to turn to the natural follow-up question: “If I’m a bi-vocational ministry leader, what type of second job should I look for?” Every person, and every situation, is obviously unique—so there’s no objective perfect job to recommend for everyone. However, there are at least five wise considerations in choosing that second (or third, or seventh?) job.

Is It Relational?

In addition to his church duties, one of our former elders works as a physical therapist. All day every day, he pushes and prods on broken bodies to make them better (though some joke that he causes more pain). For years, he has used his role as a ministry. He not only discusses physical pain and tries to help; over multiple appointments, he gets to know his patients. He talks, encourages, and at times prays with and speaks truth to the many people he spends his days with. What jobs are out there that will enable relationships?

Is It Missional?

Whether bartending, computing, designing, stocking shelves alongside others, barista-ing, or beyond, every corner of our cities hides hurt and brokenness. Over and over, the Bible shows Jesus going into the darkness. Many of the folks on my university campus mission field have a skewed, angry, or negative view of God. The conversations and opportunities that my job has provided have been astounding—because I get to talk to folks who would never enter a Christian ministry gathering.

Can It Support Your Family?

A $3.25/hour + tips job might not be the best route to take for most with exceptions, even if it is relational and missional. If we’re wise in providing for our families, we must count the cost of our second jobs: Is the income worth the hours it demands? Part of this consideration must be benefit packages: more and more workplaces provide insurance, retirement, and more for part-time employees. Among those that come to mind are REI, Whole Foods, UPS, Lowes, Barnes & Noble, JP Morgan Chase, and some “big-box” clothing stores.

Is It Flexible?

Finding work that’s project-based instead of hours-based, that doesn’t require you to be in a certain place, or that has flexible hours or swappable shifts can be a good balance to ministry. Yes, it might mean a few early mornings or late nights, but it also means that our jobs can mesh together well with careful planning. For many years, one of our elders’ “real job” was to consult for companies (little ones you’ve never heard of like Disney and Dell). As a consultant, he set his own schedule or worked around theirs—but he had the flexibility between travel and contracts to adjust his schedule and give adequate time to the church.

Is It Enjoyable?

One of our elders worked as a night security guard for a local company. It provided well, gave him flexibility (he was able to study while watching the building), and was missional (a couple guards are considering God for the first time). But it was an incredible burden on his wife and growing family, and he sometimes found it difficult to be fully present during daytime meetings! While God produced fruit through his sacrifice, there was much relief this season drew to a close. All work is difficult—that’s part of the curse in Genesis 3; only rarely does someone love his employment 100% of the time. That’s true of full-time church leaders, bivovational workers, and all the everyday saints. But what gives you joy? What would you do if you weren’t a pastor? Look for a job that allows you to use some of those skills and love it!

Bivocation as a Display of the Gospel

If you ask the elders I reference, they’d each tell you that our second jobs fit multiple (if not all five!) of these categories. Our situations aren’t unique; many opportunities exist that we simply overlook. On the one hand, if we believe that God is both sovereign and good and that his Spirit is “our Helper,” the first step to the perfect second job is to seek God’s help! Whether an opportunity doesn’t seem real or you simply don’t think it exists, let’s seek God’s will and help to open a door that we can’t by our power. On the other hand, if we believe the Bible—that all money is God’s and the entire body is called to ministry, use our gifts, and live out God’s mission—then the bottom line is that each of the five categories above reflect a different element of God’s goodness, provision, character, and joy.


Adapted from Ben Connelly’s A Pastor’s Guide to Everyday Mission (GCD Books, Summer 2016).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Connelly

Ben Connelly (@connellyben), his wife Jess, and their kiddos Charlotte, Maggie, and Travis live in Fort Worth, TX. He started and now co-leads The City Church, part of the Acts29 network and Soma family of churches. Ben also directs church planting for Soma churches across North America, has taught university classes, and has published a few books. With degrees from Baylor University and Dallas Theological Seminary, he writes for various publications, trains folks across the country, and blogs occasionally at benconnelly.net.

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