I’ve had to say “No” a lot this week…which reminds me of my commitment to not only share publicly about the great joys of being a bi-vocational, part-time pastor; but, also the challenges.
I’ve had to say no this week to several great opportunities in other cities to preach, participate in trainings, facilitate trainings, etc. Why? Because I will end this month with 4.83 hours of accrued PTO at my health system job; and, with the things already on my calendar for the rest of the year, I am scheduled to end the year with 4.87 hours of PTO – I use it as quickly as I accrue it.
The reality is I use about 70% of my time off from my health system job for ministry. Participating in the ADLA Assembly and Churchwide Assembly meant being away from Montgomery for 10 consecutive days – that’s a huge chunk of time! I have to be very intentional about how I plan out my time off and often plan it out months in advance. (There’s a complicated spreadsheet with color-coding and hyperlinks involved.) I say “yes” to opportunities as often as I can and as is appropriate; but, there are also times I have to say “no” and really wish I didn’t.
As someone reminded me this week, I am really tri-vocational – my mission development work at Gathered by Grace, my business development work at Baptist Health, and the synodical and churchwide work I engage in that is not directly a part of the other two. I delicately try to maintain that tri-vocational balance (sometimes missing the point of balance!)
The purpose of this post is not to garner your vacation sympathy. I make intentional choices about how to spend my time; I knew what I was getting myself in to when I began this bi-vocational call; and I have already taken an actual vacation this year and will do so again for my birthday in October. I will also spend time with my family at Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are plenty of people in this country who work multiple jobs and who can only dream of taking a vacation, let alone two vacations in the same year. I am abundantly blessed.
The purpose of this post is to continue to bring awareness to what it means to be a bi-vocational, part-time pastor. As financial dynamics of churches continue to change, the conversation of more pastors being bi-vocational continues to increase. I think it’s important for pastors and congregations to understand the realities of the bi-vocational experience and that being bi-vocational often means saying “no” more times than desired.
I consider it an honor every time I am invited to engage in ministry in any way. I never take for granted that people do not have to invite me anywhere to do anything. I say “yes” as often as I can and as is appropriate, so if I tell you “no,” please know it is not without sincere consideration. It means I have considered the delicate balance of all I’m called to do, honoring my calls to Gathered by Grace and Baptist Health, and consulted my color-coded, hyperlinked vacation spreadsheet. And, it means, I’m going to try my very best to say “yes” next time, if asked again.
If you missed the LSTC blog in the Spring sharing my experience as a bi-vocational, part-time pastor and the values I find important to this type of ministry, you are welcome to read it here: https://wetalkwelisten.wordpress.com/2019/05/13/living-bi-vocationally-rev-tiffany-c-chaney/
As I say in the blog on being bi-vocational, “It’s hard every day. But, for me, it is also rewarding every day (well, maybe not every day, but certainly most days.)”