Finding Balance – Guest Post by Dennis Bickers

Recently  while reading another blog a person asked the question of how a bivocational  minister can maintain balance in his life.  This is one of the most frequent  questions I’m asked and thought it was time to touch on it again in a post.  For  a more thorough answer please read my book, The Healthy Pastor: Easing the Stresses of Ministry.  Here I just want to give a couple of quick  responses.
Bivocational ministers need to stop trying to be the Lone  Ranger.  There is too much to do for you to try to do ministry by yourself.  You  need to surround yourself with a good team of mature Christian leaders who can  help carry the load.  The best resource available today to help you develop such  a team is Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church  written by Terry Dorsett, a pastor and church planter in Vermont.  This is by  far the best book I know about that will help you develop the teams you need to  effectively pastor a smaller church and have any life outside the  church.

John Maxwell says that if you can accomplish your dream on your  own, your dream is too small.  What I tried to do early in my pastorate was to  accomplish dreams that were too small because I was always reluctant to ask for  help, and sometimes too stupid to accept help when it was offered!  Just trying  to be honest here.  With a quality team you can dare to dream bigger, accomplish  much more, and still have a life that you and your family can enjoy.

The  second thing that is essential for a balanced life is the setting of priorities  and goals.  A bivocational minister does not have the time to run around in  circles.  It is vital that you and your church leaders have agreed on priorities  and goals for your ministry so you can pursue those while allowing other people  to handle the other things that come up.  As an example, our church began seeing  a number of first-time guests in our morning services.  At our next deacon  meeting I told the deacons that I simply could not visit these first-time guests  and handle the visitation needs of our congregation.  I asked them to tell me  which one they wanted me to focus on and they would be responsible for the other  one.  After some discussion they agreed that I should focus on visiting our  first-time guests and they would handle the normal visitation needs of our  congregation.  They would contact me if it became obvious to them that a pastor  visit was needed, but they would at least make the initial visits to our church  members.

Do you see how freeing that became?  I knew what my priority was  in the area of visitation and knew what my focus was to be.  Yes, it took some  time to educate the congregation but not as long as one might think.  It also  took some time to train some of our deacons on how to do a good visit in the  home, in the hospital, or elsewhere, but again it didn’t take that much time.   Most of them were already gifted in such ministry and the others learned quickly  and did a wonderful job.  Whatever time I spent in educating the congregation  and training our deacons was an investment that resulted in a much more balanced  ministry and life for me.

Just doing these two things will help you enjoy  much more balance in your life and make your ministry more enjoyable and  effective.  I do recommend you purchase the two resources mentioned above.   You’ll find them in most Christian bookstores and on  I would also  suggest you read Margin by Richard Swenson.  I’ve often said that is  the one book I wish I had read early in my ministry because he explains why  maintaining margin in one’s life is so important.  I might have avoided a lot of  problems if I had only read his book and followed the recommendations he made.


~ by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett on April 15, 2012.

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