I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of pastors in planning for their retirement. As you can imagine, the stories I’ve heard of God’s blessings and faithfulness are really encouraging. I can’t tell you how many missionaries I’ve worked with who are ready for retirement because they consistently saved 10% of their income, even when it didn’t amount to much.
While many pastors and missionaries are quick to share about God’s provision, a lot of them still have very modest incomes. Now there are some churches that can support their pastoral staff with very healthy salaries, but that represents a very low percentage of the pastors I’ve met with.
One of the most common scenarios is to meet with a pastor who is bi-vocational, meaning they serve the church and also hold a job outside of ministry. This is especially true for smaller churches that don’t have the resources to support a pastor full time. It’s always fascinating to hear the line of work a bi-vocational pastor does to support their family while in the ministry. In order to make ends meet, I’ve seen pastors with jobs as web developers, photographers, teachers, school bus drivers, factory workers, accountants, and small business owners.
Does a Second Job Negatively Affect Ministry?
When I first started working with ministers and noticed how many of them had job outside of their pastoral role, I couldn’t help but wonder if they felt limited in ministry because of it. For many, working a second job was a necessity, so the choice was clear – work a second job or go hungry. But working a second job didn’t mean that their ministry was less effective than full time pastors.
I remember asking one pastor if he ever wished that he could quit his secular job in order to do ministry full time. Very quickly he said that he considers himself blessed to minister to so many people from the pulpit as well as on the jobsite. Responses like that challenge me to consider my job as an opportunity to minister to those around me.
The most influential missionary had a second job.
One of the most famous bi-vocational missionaries was the apostle Paul. In order to support his missionary trips, we read that Paul found employment as a tentmaker as he traveled. You can learn about Paul’s work in Acts 18:1-3. For Paul, his goal was to reach as many people as possible, and he didn’t want money to keep him from doing that. Paul made it clear that he’d rather work for a living instead of accepting financial support from ministry so that it wouldn’t hinder his message from reaching nonbelievers.1 Corinthians 9:12 (NLT)
If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ. - 1 Corinthians 9:12 (NLT)
The Bible is full of examples of ‘tentmakers’ who worked another job while ministering to others. Abraham raised livestock, Luke was a physician, and Jesus was a carpenter. To discount the effectiveness of their ministry is ridiculous to even consider.
Whether you’re a pastor working a second job to support a small church or if you’re a missionary trying to make money blogging in order to make ends meet, be encouraged to know that other tentmakers have been successful in winning people to Christ. As Paul said to Timothy in his final days of ministry, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Don’t be discouraged by your day job. Use it as an opportunity to reach even more people for Christ. Paul embraced his talent as a tentmaker, will you?
Are you a tentmaker who is working a second job to support your family? We’d love to hear what you do! Meet us in the comments!