Ninjas don’t have a lot of decisions to make. They don’t get to pick what color to wear. For ninjas black is always the new black. However, to a bivocational ninja there are career choices to be made. There are three factors of choosing a career path that will greatly affect your quality of life as a bi-vocational planter:
Balancing these three factors in different combinations will produce different results in your personal life, and ministry. It could be argued that one can never have enough of all three, but sometimes the bi-vocational planter must prioritize one over another in order to accomplish a different result. In the movie Twilight Samurai, a retired warrior was enlisted as an assassin because he possessed the ability to fight with a short blade instead of the traditional long blade katana. Sometimes your mission will require you to fight differently.
Consider my dilemma as a barista at Starbucks. Working 40 hours a week as a barista at a popular coffee shop won’t put much money in the bank account. It will also demand much of your time for little financial return. Therefore, a barista job fails to maximize your income or your time. One thing it does do however, is maximize your exposure to people. In a barista job, you are encouraged to talk to customers, and build relationships with them as you make their drinks. You get to know regulars and become a pillar in the community.
On the bi-vocational maximizer scale, your life looks like this
The trade off for maximum exposure to the community was that I made minimal income, and my time wasn’t optimized. This isn’t always ideal. I was poor, but I reached tons of people…and every month my debt grew just a little bigger. Living debt free most of my life, this was not a sustainable situation.
Therefore, when considering a job that requires a maximum amount of time, you must ask two questions:
- Will this job pay me what I need to sustain my family household?
- Will this job expose me to the people I’m trying to reach?
If the answer to question one is yes, it will provide me with enough income to support a family, then the second factor to be considered is whether or not it will put me around the people I’m trying to minister to. If the answer is no, then perhaps the job may not be a good fit. For example, a job tucked away in the back of a warehouse sitting at a computer screen may not be the best place for an apostolic leader who is gifted at creating community. He now has very little time to do it, and meets very few people to do it with.
In the case of the barista job, the bi-vocational planter is sacrificing money and time for exposure to the target community. Another way to say this is that the planter is sacrificing economic margin for evangelistic reach. Thankfully, this does not always have to be the case. There are jobs that will maximize the planters time, money, and exposure to the target community.
Consider the job of window cleaning in a community that has lots of weather. People usually neglect cleaning their windows, and will gladly pay somebody else to do it. Contrasting the window cleaning job with a barista position, we will see that the window cleaning job will require more physical labor, but the payoff in the three areas of time, money, and exposure is very different.
A window cleaner works much fewer hours to make the same amount of money as a barista. If the window cleaner really hustles, he can work two days a week, instead of five, and make double the income he would as a barista if he lives in an area that has wet weather. The bonus is that although he works two days a week, he has an excuse to knock on every single door in the city to acquire clients. There aren’t many businesses that can boast that! Thus, the job of a window cleaner maximizes time, money, and exposure to the target community. The drawback however, is that the window cleaner may find that conversations as a barista are more meaningful, because the barista isn’t selling something while he’s talking. Therefore, some planters may still opt to become baristas, instead of becoming window cleaners.
All of these factors must be weighed and considered. Consider the contrast of the two jobs discussed.
One additional factor to consider is the health of your family. Some families require more time than others, and some spouses may resent a bi-vocational lifestyle if the planter is always absent from the home, with little return on the investment. If there is little money coming in to pay the bills, and little time for emotional connection, a spouse will soon begin to resent the sacrifices being made with seemingly little to show for it. A wise planter will discuss these things with their spouse in order to establish expectations, and be clear about what is being sacrificed for what end. A spouse will frequently sacrifice one of these at any given time to accomplish the mission, but not both. Not for long anyways. Therefore the emotional temperature of the home must be maintained as well.