Of all the truths and half-truths circulating out there about bivocational pastors, perhaps one stands out above the others. “Having one or more jobs outside the church means pastors have less time and energy for church programs”. In other words, when a pastor is trying to juggle a secular job with family time and church programs, he or she will have less time and energy for dedicated ministry. This usually means either family time suffers, or programs are neglected. All in all, this means the bivocational minister is going to have to be creative in order to get it all done.
Years ago my wife and I underwent a selection process including psychological testing in order to qualify for the Salvation Army School for Officers Training. the psychologist told us afterwards he found we had two areas which needed improvement. We needed training in conflict resolution as a couple, and we needed to know how to say ‘No!’. He told us saying ‘No’ is a common problem with ministers. We are naturally trying to help people as much as possible, but that not prioritizing and being able to say ‘No’ leads to overload and burnout.
All of which leads us to Jethro. When Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt and into the desert he found that his new nation had many problems needing resolution. So, as Israels new leader he tried to solve each problem personally. When his father-in-law, Jethro, came to visit, he told him that “…what you are doing is not good” (Exodus 18:17) He was solving the problems, but he had no time for anything else and was eventually going to burn out. Yes, the problems needed solving, but he did not have to do it all himself! Jethro advised Moses to pick men to be in charge of various levels of conflict resolution. Men in charge of the smaller groups were to address the issues of individuals. Difficult cases were handed up to the next level, and so on, until a few very special cases were brought to Moses.
[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]”…what you are doing is not good” (Exodus 18:17)[/cryout-pullquote].
Yes, the programs at your church need to be taught, administered and planned. But the minister does NOT need to be the person doing it all. As a matter of fact doing so can harm the health of your church. Within each church is a pool of people who each have their own God-given gifts. If we don’t allow them to use those gifts, they and the church will languish. Delegation is the key. Train people who have a passion for each of those programs (ministries) and let them do their job with supervision from you. I went so far with this philosophy in my church that I tild my people that (outside of a few core ministries), unless someone comes forward as a leader with passion, I would not start any new ministries. It has worked well. My work load is down, our effectiveness is up, our people feel empowered to be part of the priesthood of all believers. In short, they feel as though their ministry is blessed.
Try it. Train leaders. Delegate them. See where God takes you!
Excellent advice my friend. The pastor is like a coach that provides training, motivation, and direction for the players. It is up to the entire team accomplish its goals.
Thanks, Steve! You have it exactly. We as the church preach and teach about spiritual gifts, using your talents, the priesthood of all believers and all that goes along with it. But I think there is a disconnect many times between the theory and the practice. Bivopastors especially need to get it right, or they will end up in burnout mode. The average pastor leaves ministry in seven years. Not good.