The chances are good that there are a few pastors sitting down at their desk, sipping a cup of coffee, and spotting this post in their blog feed just before starting work. And that “work” may be nowhere close to a church office or the pulpit they preached in on Sunday.
My name is Danny, and I’m a former bivocational pastor.
I did the bi-vo gig for a decade. I was always a pastor plus something else: Pastor + full time student. Pastor + 40 hour a week job. Pastor + full time student + 40 hour a week job. (I still compulsively chew on some stress meds just thinking about that one.)
Hardly a week went by that I didn’t curse my status in life. (Scratch that. I questioned it. Because good Baptist bi-vo’s don’t curse.) I wasted my day job for years because I saw it as a stepping stone on the way to somewhere else, not as a part of the journey where God had sovereignly, graciously placed me.
But then I came across this passage, which seemed custom-crafted for a guy who watched the clock in order to get back to doing the stuff he loved:
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. (Psalm 37:3-6)
Befriend faithfulness. Your translation may say cultivate faithfulness. Your coffee cup or grandma’s cross stitch might phrase it Bloom where you’re planted (though I wouldn’t necessarily endorse that one). You can even hijack it to say things like “If I do A, God will do B.” (Please don’t make that mistake.)
But however you cut it, the scriptures say that we are to be faithful where we’ve been placed, to delight ourselves in Jesus before we grouse about our circumstances.
I had to learn that slowly over the course of a decade. But once I began to understand this passage, I saw that there was a method behind the madness:
Those customers I dealt with day after day? They helped me understand the importance of knowing people by name and caring about their needs.
The monotonous tagging and bagging I did as a part time seminary dry cleaner? (Shut up. I did too.) It taught me that details matter.
The coworkers I shared life with? They helped me to understand that we all have a story, and we all walk around as people in need of hope.
If you’re a bivocational minister, I’m praying for you especially today. I know it’s hard. I know there are days when you’d like to cash in your chips and take your chances on doing ministry while living under a bridge. But this season? It’s worth it. Your calling and God’s work is worth it. And more than that, God’s work in your life is worth it. Don’t squander the spot where he’s placed you. View that as much of your ministry as when you’re standing behind that pulpit.
Befriend faithfulness today.