Finding the "Perfect" Second Job
A church planter I know worked as a manager at Starbucks for many years—when he moved to the city where he wanted to plant, he cut his coffee shop hours and position (and thus his pay as well). But as an Assistant Manager who worked more than 20 hours a week, he was able to maintain a salary and benefits that supported his family, alongside the support he raised to start the church.
When ministry is people-focused, emergencies and late-night calls happen. There's always more to do than we have time for. No ministry is ever an 8:00-to-5:00, Monday-through-Friday job, and it skews even further when you add another job to the mix. Finding work that's project-based instead of hours-based, that doesn't require you to be in a certain place, or that has flexible hours or swappable shifts can be a good complement to a ministry role. Yes, it might mean a few early mornings or late nights, but it also means that the jobs can mesh together well, with careful planning.
For many years, one of our elders' "real job" was to consult for companies (just little ones you've never heard of, like Disney and Dell). As a consultant, he set his own schedule or worked around theirs—but he had the flexibility between travel and contracts to adjust his schedule and give adequate time to the church.
After four positive stories, here's a less-happy one: one of our elders works as a night security guard for a local company. It provides well, gives him flexibility (he's able to study while watching his building), and is missional (through relationships, a couple guards are considering God for the first time). While it's obvious that God is producing fruit, this season needs to draw to an end soon. Night shifts just don't work for him. He's exhausted, his family gets the leftovers, he has a hard time thinking well during the day, and bottom line, he doesn't enjoy it. By God's grace, we're able to support him for a few hours a week, allowing him to move from nights to days at a slightly lower pay-grade. The change has already been amazing. He enjoys life again, along with his family and those he serves at church.
Whether from a "church job" or a "second job," if leaders are beat-down, exhausted, frustrated, or discouraged, their mindset can't help but overflow. Your fellow leaders and those around you notice. All too often, it impacts your family most deeply. Work is difficult—that's part of the curse in Genesis 3. Who loves their employment 100 percent of the time? That's true of full-time church leaders, bi-vocational workers, and the everyday saints working full-time outside the church, who God still calls "ministers of reconciliation." But try to avoid a job you hate, even if it helps make ends meet. Where's your passion and experience? What gives you joy? What would you do if you weren't a pastor? Look for a job that allows you to use some of those skills, and don't underestimate the value of enjoyment.