As we journey through Lent this year, my self-examination has led to the question, "Who am I?" I am many things - husband, father, son, brother, friend, and pastor. But in this day and time, I am also something quite undefined - a bi-vocational Lutheran pastor. I am not the only one, but I am certainly one of a small number of pastors who, because of various economic issues, finds themselves being only paid for a part-time call (something that used to be done mostly by retired pastors) and so must work another job of some kind.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of jobs that allow the flexibility in scheduling that most Lutheran churches expect of their pastors. For example, if they want the funeral on Tuesday afternoon, will they understand that Tuesday is my shift at the local fast food restaurant and adjust accordingly? So there are really two main issues here - how to divide ones workweek between two or more commitments and what kind of "second" job is appropriate for a pastor, especially a Lutheran pastor.
Since I have a variety of job skills in my background, one might think that this would be pretty easy. I have maintained a part-time business for several years which includes comparing computers, designing web sites, and so on. It seems to make sense that I just keep doing that - and so I have.
Which brings us back to the other issues - how does one divide ones time? How do you set priorities? How to advertise? Do you solicit business from congregation members? Do you refuse to do work for congregation members? Each of these questions has its own pros and cons and we don't have (at least in the Lutheran church) a manual with answers for these questions. In fact, we don't have any seminary classes or professors to refer to either.
While I am not the only person facing this dilemma, I don't know of a support group for us either. It may be that this is where we need to visit with our fellow clergy in other denominations to see if they have guidelines or suggestions. The only thing I know for sure - Sunday morning happens every week and pretty much everyone in the congregation expects a sermon. No matter what the schedule for the week, there has to be some sermon prep time in it. Other than that, it seems that each week varies and usually works, although some deadlines do occur and require burning some midnight oil.
As we come to the end of the Lenten journey, I find that I must find more time for the "second" job in order to make ends meet. A part-time salary just isn't enough. So, after the long hours of Holy Week which will be devoted to being a pastor, I must re-examine the schedule and priorities to see if I can really make enough money from the computer business to pay some bills. If not, I hear there is a new WalMart coming to town; maybe they would hire a part-time pastor who needs Sundays off?