It’s funny, over the past few months people who have not seen me for a while tend to ask me, “hows that bi-vocational thing going for you?” most likely referring to my posts from a few months ago (here and here) on having three jobs and three kids and all that goes with that.
Well, over the past few months things have changed a bit. I’m no longer employed by Starbucks (though, I still spend a lot of time there doing work in the cafe!). The Well was gracious and picked up the health insurance for our family again and increased my hours to 3/4 time so I’ve been able to devote more time to leading our community and advancing our mission. I’m still running 343design, my web design company and have been doing some work for the Ecclesia network in some technology areas. For Ecclesia I’ve also been focusing some on partnerships, church coaching, etc. I guess I technically still kind of have three jobs but it all fits together a bit better. I still long for the day when I can do web design for fun and spend all of my time serving The Well and the wider body of Christ. But Lord willing, that day will come.
For now, life is more sane than ever even though I’ve been working hard. This is probably because I am mostly engaged in things that bring me energy rather than take it away.
In the midst of these changes my wife has somehow gotten pregnant (I can’t explain it!) and we’re expecting our fourth child at the end of December. At the same time I am finally getting around to finishing my Masters in Missional Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary (I started my degree in 2001 and have 5 classes left). I hope to walk this spring with my MA and after that I’m considering a DMin after I’m done, possibly at George Fox University in Portland.
On paper this all looks like way too much, and maybe it is. Maybe I’ll look back in 20 years and wonder what we were thinking. But God has been so gracious.
I feel like my wife and I have more time together and I feel like I am getting more time with my kids than ever. Honestly, I think a big part of this was the simple act of shutting off our cable TV and only watching TV via DVD, Hulu, Netflix and over the air. While we still can watch TV, we don’t just habitually turn it on like we used to and watch aimlessly. We have to actually decide to watch TV, whereas in the past it was a decision not to. This has been a subtle, yet significant difference. We’ve spent more time on the porch reading and more time with the family than we did when we had cable. A nice bonus is we’ve saved like $50 a month in the process.
One of the things that is hard about bi-vocational ministry is when you are in a situation where your vocations don’t really fit together. It makes more sense for me to be working in different jobs that actually somewhat fit together. As a pastor of The Well and my time for The Ecclesia Network, and to a degree as a web designer since I mostly does work for non-profits and churches and ministries that I can support with my heart, my life doesn’t feel so torn in different directions. In the past when I worked for Starbucks and UPS, I was in constant frustration because I was always putting on a different hat and those jobs were so far from what I loved to do that they caused a lot of frustration. At the same time, God used them to shape me significantly and if pressed I (very reluctantly!) wouldn’t trade those experiences because I think they were an important part of my formation as a person and as a leader.
My life will always be a bit nuts and I’ve come to terms with that and have even embraced it. I will always be, as they say, surfing the edge of chaos. But when my job actually make sense and fit together it makes it a bit easier and more integrated.
Tomorrow I’ll post 10 random thoughts and suggestions on being bi-vocational.