Life comes at us at Mach speed most days causing us to grasp at straws to accomplish all of the “To Do” items before our head hits the pillow each night. The more we have on our plates the more we have to juggle. Relational demands from spouses, friends, children; jobs we work Monday-Friday from 9-5, volunteer opportunities, hobbies and spiritual pursuits can clog up the hourglass of our lives. Yet, one group of people who have an added challenge in this balancing act of life are Bi-Vocational Pastors.
Pastors who, like myself, work regular daily jobs outside the church plus take on full time ministerial leadership and responsibility for a church.
Balance. It’s a buzz word among leaders, professionals and pastors. The big question on lists today is “how do you bring, find or achieve balance in your life?” Dictionary.com defines balance as a verb: “Balance the act of bringing equilibrium. To arrange, adjust, or proportion the parts of symmetrically. To be equal or proportionate.”
As bi-vocational pastors we have all of the normal responsibilities of life, jobs, relationships but we have added a full time second job that goes beyond the responsibilities of a 9-5 career. So, what have I learned in the last 13 years of pastoring while working another job?
I’ve learned that balance never happens. That life changes so rapidly sometimes that the balance I thought I achieved and was striving for is thrown topsy turvy in a matter of seconds. A family member passes, a church member has a moral failure or someone hates your sermon from last week and all of a sudden pressures that were not present when you “created” balance are now top of the list of “MUST ATTEND TO NOW!” I’ve realized that, as my wise husband pointed out, “We must take life on life’s terms”. Meaning, whatever happens today we must approach it as it comes. I think Jesus said something like, “Do not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough troubles of its own.” (Korista’s paraphrase) If I’m honest, I struggle with this concept because I want life to fit my box and all the checks to create satisfaction and balance at the end of the day.
Unfortunately and fortunately life does not work that way! Eugene Cho, in his book Overrated, wrote this staggering sentence; “Had I foreseen it, there is no way in hades I would have gone forward with our pledge. It really is God’s grace that He doesn’t reveal the entirety of our futures all at once. If we knew what we’d have to face in the future, we’d all likely run the other way-like Jonah.”
SO WHAT? So what does this mean for bi-vocational pastors like you and me? Where do we go if we can’t gain that unattainable balance the whole world says we should crave?
I say, and have been working to, Forget BALANCE! What I have found in my life is that balance never comes but rhythm is key. Gaining a rhythm to life is more important than trying to make all the pieces and people balance out to health. Rhythms in music are sometimes faster, sometimes intense and at other times soft and smooth. The rhythm of a song drives it or leads it. So it is with our lives and ministries. Find a scheduling rhythm between work, relationships and ministry that gives you a sense of accomplishment and control but doesn’t overwhelm the melody of your life. Seek God’s grace for the daily and leave room for him to change the rhythm of your current “to do” list. Only you know what that contains and it obviously has challenges of its own but balancing a plate on a pole is a lot harder than clapping to the beat.
Today, my bi-vocational friend and colleague, I pray God’s grace becomes the rhythm your heart and life follow. That daily His peace, care and leading will refresh your tired body and possibly weary soul. I pray that you start to hear the beat of the rhythm he created for you in scheduling, pastoring, preparing and leading the unique part of the church that he has called you to.
I’ve written a series of blogs that you can find under “Leadership” and “Bi-Vocational Ministry”. I hope you will find practical tools and encouragement that you are not alone. Comment and help me creatively think about our approaches to ministry, life and leadership as well! Share your life, calendaring and leadership hacks!