Monday, October 5, 2015

Bivocational ministry and a balanced life

Virtually all bivocational ministers will struggle occasionally with time issues. For some, it's a constant battle to meet all the demands on their time. How to better manage their time is the most frequently asked question I receive from bivocational ministers.

Time management is really life management. It begins by knowing who you are and your purpose in life. The reality is that none of us will ever meet all the expectations that people have of us, so we have to be able to identify the expectations God has for us and plan our lives accordingly. Once we have a clear God-given vision for our lives we are able to determine the priorities we need to establish that will help us achieve that vision.

For bivocational ministers there are five areas of life we need to balance.

  • Our relationship with God
  • Our relationship with our families
  • Our church ministry
  • Our other jobs
  • Our own self-care
These are not listed in order of importance because they are all equally important. Unfortunately, what many bivocational ministers have admitted to me is that they struggle most with their relationship with God and self-care. Others tell me their families often receive less attention than is healthy for that relationship.

There needs to be a healthy balance in these five areas of life, and such a balance will not happen unless we plan for it. We must be intentional about each of these areas, setting priorities for each of them, and living into those priorities.

Let's take just a brief look at family. As a bivocational pastor it was important to me to keep my family a high priority in my life. I planned my schedule to coach our son's baseball team when he played Little League. My wife and I had a regular date night each week. The telephone was not answered during meals. We scheduled vacations and took them. We attended school events and other activities our children were involved in. We did many other things as a family, but in order to do them I had to schedule them in my calendar or other things would crowd them out. I had no problem telling someone I had another appointment at a time they wanted to meet when that other appointment was a date with my wife.

The brutal fact is that if a person's life is out of balance, it's their fault. You control your calendar, or at least you should. There will be times when life gets out of control such as during illnesses or other catastrophes that sometimes occur in life, but these will be limited. For most of our lives, we can control our schedules and give priorities to those things that are most important to us.

For more help in this or other ministry challenges you may want to read my book The Healthy Pastor: Easing the Pressures of Ministry.

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