Visions of Vocation (Part 1)

So lately, I’ve been thinking…

…in my quest to resource the church on marketplace ministry, have I been wrong in using the term, ‘bivocational’?

Have I been misleading people through a lack of definition, context…

…or even worse, discouraging people implying the expression as elite?

If so, please know…

  1. My intent is to encourage people where they’re at as opposed to elevating where I’m at.
  2. My goal is to inspire anyone and everyone to run their race to the fullest.
  3. If I’ve given any evidence to the contrary, I sincerely apologize.

Having said that, permit me to press the ‘reset’ button and clean house…

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Going back to our founding in 2014, no question, Lyssah and I were stirred by lessons learned as we balanced jobs in church and out. A quick jaunt to our ‘about’ page confirms this as its composition datestamps a time when our vision, mission, and target audience were finding their niche.

But somewhere during the writing of, ‘The Bottom Line’ in 2016, the tent pegs of what I had thought about ‘bivocational ministry’ began to expand. Suddenly, I saw how ‘bivocational’ in a bifunctional and spiritual gifting context could apply to anyone. As such, by the time I completed the e-book, my thinking had changed so dramatically, what started as a tool for a minority was now a resource for a majority.

Flash-forward to today and the evolution of thought, heart, and content change is still tough to gauge on the outside looking in; hence, why I wanted to take this minute to inform you while we believe occupation and vocation are related, they are not the same thing.

For example, as a youth pastor, what came first: my job or my calling?

If you answered the latter, you’d be correct.

Before I was alive to have an occupation1, God had a specific vocation or klḗsisover my life the same way he had a vocation (i.e. calling) over your life.

2 Timothy 1:8-9 (ESV) confirms this…

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

The problem is we often think of ‘calling’ as this one great thing we’re supposed to do whether it’s writing a New York best seller or rising as a top executive at a fortune 500 company; however, when we consider how “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:38), we find God gives us more than one calling.

Take Jesus for example: as a child, he was a faithful student; as a teenager, he was a faithful carpenter (with special guest temple cameos); and by thirty, he was a faithful minister.

Now, we can nit-pick whether ‘student’ and ‘carpenter’ are vocations or occupations. Personally, if you used this model to suggest God designated various occupations to prepare His Son for his ultimate vocation (i.e. Matthew 28:19) – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit“), I wouldn’t disagree.

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Whatever the case, my thoughts are…

  1. At each season in Jesus’ life, God was preparing him for his rabbinical destiny.
  2. While there may be seasons we don’t like what we do, God is always preparing us for what we’re meant to do (a truth that exists today just as much as it exists tomorrow).
  3. Therefore, even if our occupations (what we do) and vocations (what we’re meant to do) don’t seem to line up, we can rest in the common denominator of reflecting Jesus.

In essence, while pastors and ministers are multi-occupational in the sense their time is occupied with multiple responsibilities, given we’re all called to ordained vocations3, it makes no sense to promote one “ational” above the other and accordingly, be offended, trip over semantics, or fear political incorrectness.

After all, if we see “bivocational” as God giving us multiple skills and avenues to be salt and light, then divisive misinterpretations (i.e. clergy is on one level, laity is on another) waste away.

As a wise man recently told me…

Every believer has several vocations (rooted in bearing and restoring the image of God) and many occupations. A pastor or minister working 2-3 jobs is no less ordained than one fully supported.”

To this, I 100% agree.

Bottom line: Whether you refer yourself as bivocational and/or multi-occupational, at the end of the day, a) one is not better than the other and b) on a lifetime scale, we are all bivocational and multi-occupational. Remember being bivocational isn’t about having an occupational ministry outlet, but understanding what you’re meant to do (and more importantly, meant to be) regardless of what you do/want to do. It’s knowing no matter how you’re getting paid, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) always resides in you.

Selah.

Stay tuned next time when I’ll dive into a recent forum post from a bivocational colleague that testifies to why His Girl Fryday exists.

In the meantime, in all you say and do, remember what and who you’re meant for.

Peace…

~ Cameron

Footnotes

  1. Hebrew translation – Avodah
  2. Vocation in Greek: klḗsis– “to call, summon”) – a calling or invitation into something, specifically receiving God’s gift of salvation – with all His blessings that go with it (Romans 11:29; Ephesians 4:4; 2 Peter 1:10).
  3. And all bear multiple responsibilities

Ephesians 4:1 conveys this…

* NAS: in a manner worthy of the calling with which
* KJV: worthy of the vocation wherewith
* INT: to walk of the calling in which you were called

Cover photo creds: Medium

Setting Boundaries in Bivocational Ministry: Part 2

In part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of intentional boundary-setting in ministry.

Today, we’re going to explore the difference between walls and boundaries…and begin an introductory discussion on how pastors can effectively establish these boundaries (whether personal, ethical or relational).

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Let’s face it: You like being a mystery…camouflaging into an absorbed agenda…hidden behind the veil of an appointed title.

I know I do.

Granted, there are times when a desire for transparency wins me over.

But for the most part, I like the security of knowing I’m not easily decipherable. Just being honest.

Now, irony aside, you can tell I’m being conspicuous about my preference of being the exact opposite.

Yet, chances are, you’ve read this mail before and would, thus, diagnosis this as a wall-setting mindset (as opposed to a boundary-setting one).

However, not all cases are so conveniently cracked.

Why? Because it can be very challenging to discern the right ministerial boundaries, especially in an entitled era saturated with accessible information and self-centered tendencies.

But before we get too deep on the grey side (cough, social media, cough) of the issue, let’s first define the difference between a wall and a boundary.

When we talk about a boundary, we’re talking about a necessary limitation as authorized by God for us to employ. For instance, a true boundary protects us from idolatry, poor time management and relational drama…just to name a few.

And while it may be easy to think of boundaries in terms of protection, I believe they’re better considered as a means of stewardship. As the Bible clearly states (1 Corinthians 4:2, Titus 1:7-9, Matthew 25:20-21), God desires us to be faithful stewards of the time and resources He’s given us. So as ministers, it’s important to be fair and consistent in unbiased service and attention. This doesn’t mean you treat every counseling appointment as a timed therapy session or keep a ledger on every encouraging word that comes out of your mouth. Fact is: some people require more energy and love than others…and that’s okay. At any rate, when we’re plugged into God’s input, we’ll find all the help we need to enforce the right checks at the right time.

On the flip side, when we talk about a wall, we’re talking about an unnecessary blockade, often initiated by a stronghold (whether fear, anger, bitterness, guilt, etc.). Ironically, with walls, many are set up to draw (pun intended) attention…to inspire someone to come along and make an attempt to climb them (hello, manipulation); however, the problem with walls is they don’t constructively confront the issue, but rather take people further away from where God intended them to be. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see how walls are manufactured means to self-protection and, thus, not authorized by God.

So clearly, the goal is to establish boundaries (not walls) around our personal, ethical and relational commitments. Fair enough, right?

Well, not so fast, young padawan.

Doing so requires strategy, not to mention a continued posture of submission.

As mentioned in my last post, valuing boundaries starts with valuing the ways of God. And while it may be hard for people to wrap their heads around what God did on the seventh day, it’s nevertheless an imperative part of the boundary-setting process.

district_5110_foundation_stewardship‘Cause truth is: once we start to embrace rest as a key essential in our daily lives (yes, I said “daily”), only then will we want to lay boundaries out of a place of stewardship, as opposed to fear; only then, will be begin to see how removing the walls in our lives can create the space and initiate the desire to better foster what God has given us.

So as you finish off the week, I encourage you to examine the walls in your life. Ask yourself: In what places of my heart are walls set up? What inspired them…and what steps do I need to take to conquer term? Also, in what ways can my boundary-setting be more defined?

Then, after asking the Lord to break off the walls in your life…invite Him to replace them with the appropriate boundary and strategy. If you need to reconcile? Do it. If you need to forgive someone who has wronged you? Do it. If you need take a leap and go out of your way to bless another through a random act of kindness or word of encouragement? Do it.

‘Cause at the end of the day, setting boundaries is all about making God’s priorities, your priorities…about making His the heart the one you want people to see.

So here’s to holy boundary-setting & cheers to the glorious journey ahead…

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