Bi-Vocational Pastors: How to Avoid Living on the Edge

Kim Martinez photoAfter work, we changed clothes in the restroom and then ran through Taco Bell on our way to the church. Life as a bi-vocational pastor is a bit hectic.

If you aren’t careful, you could find yourself with a burnt out adrenal system, wondering if God stopped talking or if you took a wrong turn somehow.

Elijah knew what that felt like. Sitting on the side of the desert, alone and completely burned out, he asked God to kill him.

There are a lot of things we can do to help avoid burnout. However, when we reach the edge, there are a few things that we must do in order to keep up the crazy pace so we can impact the world God has called us to.

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When you are near the edge:

1. Be honest with God. Elijah didn’t sugar coat his feelings—he just told God, “I’m done.” However, he allowed the space for God to talk back and show him the way out.

2. Sleep. Elijah slept until his body was ready to move forward. Sleep is necessary for your daily functioning and your long-term health.

3. Eat right. Fast food on the run might be a short-term solution, but it won’t help your body stay healthy over time. The angel gave Elijah food that would sustain him. Your body needs certain nutrients and lots of water. It doesn’t need loads of sugar or fat. When you eat the right food, you give your body the fuel it needs to keep going.

4. Exercise. Elijah ran all the way to the mountain of God. This allowed his hormonal system to come back into balance, his brain to balance out and the stress from the last few days to work out of his system. Similarly, exercise will help your body handle the stress that you live under and keep your physical system in balance.

5. Run to God. There are times when we want to run away from God. We feel like we’ve had all we can take, or maybe we feel like we really messed up. When we're burned out, we need to run to God and continue our conversation with Him. This is particularly hard when we feel like God forgot we're on the planet. Elijah knew this feeling:

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 Kings 19:14, NIV).

Bi-vocational ministers tend to be masters of time. Every moment you have is taken up. Elijah gives us a good example of how to handle stress and remain fruitful in every area of our lives.

God has called you to make a real difference in three places—His church, your family and your place of business. Where God guides, He provides, and He will give you everything you need to be the person, leader and minister your people, your family and your workplace needs.


Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a master's degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach and can be found online at www.deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.

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