My decision to enter divinity school was long in the making.
So long, in fact, that before I decided to do it, my legal career was well into double-digit years.
In addition, at that point in my life, Amy (my wife) and I had been married 16 years and were raising our three children: Joshua, Jacob and Emma Grace. Needless to say, I had numerous things going on in my life when I finally decided to answer this call to vocational ministry.
While my legal career was a factor in my entering divinity school, it was not a major factor. Fortunately, this allowed me to know that I was running toward my future instead of away from my past.
I was ready to leave law to pursue vocational ministry and had been for some time. I knew ministry was where my life had been heading for a long period of time. As some might say, it just took me a while to believe it.
I tell you this to let you know that bivocational ministry was not my goal, nor was it even on my radar when I began my ministry journey.
However, each time I met someone already established in vocational ministry, the discussion quickly turned to my becoming a bivocational minister.
I was getting the clear impression that all they wanted to discuss was how great it would be that I could serve in a bivocational capacity.
Each time this happened, I tried to make it clear that I was looking for full-time vocational ministry, not bivocational, and I had my reasons.
By that point in my life, I knew how much time the practice of law required, especially for those like me who strive for success.
In addition, I also felt as if I knew how much time ministry required for those wanting to be successful because I watched my father-in-law, Michael G. Queen, serve as the longtime senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, and then as the interim senior pastor of First Baptist Church in my hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina.
Knowing what it took to be successful in one career alone caused me to instantly push back against those wanting to move me onto the one-way path toward bivocational ministry.
Then came the church/ministry interview process, which opened my eyes to a world I had not previously known. A world that seemed to cherish labels more than actual experience, and I wasn’t sure how to proceed.
In the latter part of 2016, I had reached a point of frustration with the process because I had been “rejected” by approximately 15 churches.
On the rare occasion I received a call following an interview, I was told a key factor in their decision to “go in another direction” was my lack of ministerial experience.
No matter how hard I tried to convince these search committees that I possessed a skill set that could benefit the church, I was rejected because my resume did not contain the label they desired.
Then one Wednesday afternoon in October 2016, I received a call from the chair of the pastor search committee at First Baptist Church of Jamestown, North Carolina.
That short, 10-minute conversation led to a face-to-face interview three days later and being called as their senior pastor only two days after that. Completing this process in five short days was quite remarkable based on my experience.
I am now in my seventh month and absolutely love the ministry part of my bivocational life.
As one might imagine, trying to juggle all the commitments is as difficult as ever. There are weeks when I am unable to find the time to begin my sermon until Saturday, and I feel for my family on those weeks.
Fortunately, they are witnessing firsthand how rewarding the ministry side of my vocation is for me and are the most supportive family for which anyone could ask.
I do aspire to a life with only one vocation and believe such a life is possible even though it is not now. I am blessed beyond measure and I am honored to claim ministry as one of my two vocations.
Jason Knight is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Jamestown, North Carolina. In addition to his role as senior pastor, he continues to practice civil law in North Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter @j_jknight, on Instagram @jasona.knight and friend him on Facebook.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series focused on bivocational ministry.
Previous articles in the series are:
Meeting the Needs of Emerging Bivocational Ministers
The Joys and Chaos of Sharing Bivocational Ministry
5 Challenges for Churches Shifting to Bivocational Ministry
Bivocational Leaders Are Vital in China’s Sichuan Province