Several weeks ago my son, Tim, was preaching at our church when he started to talk about all the things he had going--youth pastor at the church, student at Sacramento State, husband and father of two, part-time waiter at Outback, and recent entrepreneur as he had just started a one-day a week lawn-care business with a friend. As he was listing his endeavors Tim made a casual remark that stuck with me. He said jokingly, “In this economy, if you only have two jobs, you might be lazy.”
Tim’s message that day was great (he’s my son, he is always great!) But the two-job comment got me thinking. Most of the churches we have started in the past couple of years require the planter to be carrying two jobs (at least). The economy has changed. Fund-raising has been a tougher task. Ends have been harder to meet. I started listing the planters we are serving and yes, most of them are working more than just the ministry job. I thought of our ethnic planters, and our planters serving in areas hit extremely hard by job-loss--most are bi-vocational. And I thought of our Excel Leadership Network leaders--many of us are working at least two jobs. Hey, I’m working two jobs too!
Now I understand the concept of “double honor”--1 Timothy 5:17. Ministers should be paid, and paid well. I recognize that we are not to “muzzle the ox”--Deuteronomy 25:4 I know that “the worker deserves his wages”--1 Timothy 5:18. But sometimes in our culture we turn those admonitions into rights we demand. We can slip into a feeling of entitlement if we’re not careful.
Acts 18 tells us that the Apostle Paul, and Aquila and Pricilla were tent-makers. Many other characters from the Bible supported themselves during their ministry. Abraham raised cattle, Joseph was a government official, Joshua was a war general, Nehemiah was cupbearer to the King, and Luke was a physician. (I think Barnabas and Silas worked part-time at Starbucks.) Even Jesus himself worked as a carpenter.
But pay wasn’t demanded: “If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”--1 Corinthians 9:12
Working two jobs can be a great help to those you are serving as well as those you are trying to reach. I am amazed at the number of folks from Outback that Tim has brought to our church. And I am amazed at the number of folks from our church that Tim has helped get jobs at Outback! Check out the Elk Grove Outback on a Friday or Saturday night and you’ll see Discovery Church at work--literally and figuratively!
Of course, full-time pay is great and wonderful and humbling if you can get it. If you have a ministry job that pays salary, housing, insurance, retirement with loads of great benefits, thank God, really thank God! If you don’t have to work two or more jobs count your blessings. (And I realize that having two ministry jobs like I do is an incredible gift from God.) But in this changing economy, you might have to work two jobs (at least) for a season.
I do need to mention that taking time for our families, time with God, and time for self-care need to be priorities regardless of how many jobs we have. We’re not to burn out or shirk our other responsibilities.
But let’s get past the notion that in the United States we demand to be paid and if we aren’t we’re second-class ministers. “In this economy, if you only have two jobs, you might be lazy.”
I shared this “two-jobs” idea at a recent church planter event, and received this note back from one of our top planters:
“I forgot to thank you after the last event. I got two other jobs in the last 6 months and it felt like a failure to be doing them and not having 100% focus on the church. So thanks for giving me permission to have 3 jobs, and not feel like a failure.”
Keep up the good work--at all of your jobs. And in these high-unemployment times, if you know anyone who is hiring, let me know--maybe there’s a church planter who needs another job…