As I was sitting at work today praying and meditating on the message the Lord would have me preach this Sunday, I couldn't help but remember what I heard a man say one time. He said "I wish I was a pastor, they have it made. They only work 3 times a week and eat all the fried chicken they want!"
While I believe he was joking, I wondered if that was how people really felt? Well, if you are one of those, let me fill you in (from my personal experience) on what a bi-vocational pastor really does.
Spare time: A bi-vocational pastor spends every available (spare) minute praying, preparing, or studying. He uses his lunch break at work to pray, prepare, study, make phone calls, and make visits if time allows.
Vacations: A bi-vocational pastor uses his vacation time for visiting people in hospitals, shut-ins, helping with Vacation Bible School, and sick days for when he is the one sick. When the kids ask "Daddy, are we going to be able to go on a real vacation this year?" The answer is typically, "I'm sorry but I don't have enough days left and I don't have anyone to fill in for me at Church."
Wednesday Hump-Day!: While everyone else is celebrating the middle of the week knowing they are closer to the weekend, the bi-vocational pastor is scrambling to put the Wednesday message together while at work and praying he is able to fight traffic on Wednesday evening so he can get to Church by starting time.
Saturday Palooza: A bi-vocational pastor spends his entire Saturday preparing the message for Sunday and doing visitation. When his kids ask "Daddy, do you think we can do something as a family today?" The answer is typically, "I'm sorry but I've got to prepare for tomorrow's messages," or "so and so is in the hospital, etc..." The bi-vocational pastor drags his family along with him to make visits so he can spend some time with them.
Sunday Fun-day!: A bi-vocational pastor spends his entire Sunday preaching, praying, studying, and preparing. While everyone else is running out to eat after Church and then coming home and napping, the pastor is in the study wondering if the morning message made a difference in anyone's life or if it was pleasing to the Lord. Then he spends the rest of the afternoon preparing for the evening message.
Monday Sleep-in!: A bi-vocational pastor has to get up on Monday morning worn-out, exhausted, and often feeling physically and spiritually defeated, yet having to go in to work and start the same routine over again.
All That Other Spare Time: Of course we can't forget that a bi-vocational is also on call 24/7. If someone is sick or in need the pastor is always willing and available to help. If this means going out at midnight to someone's home or the emergency room then so be it. Just remember that the bi-vocational pastor still has to go in to work the next day regardless of how/where he spent his night.
Am I complaining? No, not at all. I am simply trying to make you see the reality of what your bi-vocational pastor goes through. It's not all fun and games and chicken eating!