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Being Bi-Vocational: A Creative Balance of Work & Ministry

Lisa Stafford-Johnson

Lisa Stafford-Johnson

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Like most days, my alarm goes off at 6am. I turn off the alarm, dial into a prayer call, take a shower, grab some tea, do some Bible reading, pray with my husband, and head out the door to work. I see patients until around 4pm. Then, my husband and I make it home for a quick dinner before we leave to lead prayer at a prophetic meeting at our church. We get home after 9pm, spend time together as a family, and head off to bed. Welcome to a day in the life of a bi-vocational pastor! The next day brings another opportunity to creatively balance work with ministry.

My husband Ryan and I are co-pastors of a small church plant in Alpharetta, GA. Three years ago, we felt the call to go into ministry. I had just graduated from a very long and intense doctoral program and was planning on opening a Chiropractic practice in the coming year. The more we prayed together, the more we felt God calling us to pastoring. We had no idea how we would juggle everything, and we prayed for an extra measure of grace and discernment to do what God was calling us into.

The demands on their time, as well as financial and ministry responsibilities, can often lead bi-vocational pastors to neglect caring for their own spiritual needs. Being a bi-vocational pastor must involve maintaining a balance between family, ministry, and work life. 

Three years after becoming church planters, I am still learning the delicate balance of juggling the demands of running a business and working alongside my husband in ministry. I would encourage anyone contemplating the decision to plant a church while continuing to work to trust God through the process. Be flexible and honest about your needs and limitations, and surround yourself with supportive believers who share your desire to serve God and advance the kingdom. 

There is no way we could do what God has called us into, in this season of our lives, without remaining connected to God on a daily basis. I am an early riser, and praying and worshipping is how I get started and recharge for the day ahead. 

One of the many lessons I have learned over the last three years is to prioritize soul care.  When I am feeling the constraints of time and energy at the end of a particularly long day, my family and I take time to pray together, share the high and low points of our day, take a walk, or enjoy a meal together. 

My husband and I are also honest with each other about our needs and limitations. We often rotate our preaching schedule to allow time for regular breaks and the opportunity to spend more time hearing God and meditating on his word. 

In addition, we have a great team of amazing leaders at our church. Having a team that prays with us, shares the responsibilities, and helps us seek God about the ongoing vision of the church is a tremendous support and blessing to us.

My husband and I have experienced so much joy and fulfillment in serving together. We would not trade our new life or the experiences we have had in ministry over these past three years for anything. We are still as willing and eager to serve as we were when we heard God at the beginning of this journey. We are looking forward to what God has ahead for us as bi-vocational pastors!

Engaging a Culture​

By Jay Pathak

God is calling us to transform our cities into places of justice, prosperity, and peace, places that look more and more like God’s kingdom. Learn how to find God's vision for your city. ​
eBook
Lisa Stafford-Johnson

About the Author​

Dr. Lisa Stafford-Johnson serves along with her husband Ryan Johnson as a Co-Pastor for Living Water Vineyard Church in Alpharetta, GA. Originally from Miami, FL, she is an author and licensed Chiropractor, with a thriving practice in the Atlanta area.

The views expressed on this site or in this media are those of the speaker(s), author(s), or contributor(s), and do not necessarily represent the views of Vineyard USA or any of its Regions, Ministries or Initiatives. For more information, see the
Vineyard USA disclaimer here.

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