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Even Jesus Had a Side Hustle?

Hidden Nuggets Series #12 Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matthew 4:19-20

The title of this post makes me laugh. Who would have thought the words “Jesus” and “side hustle” could be used to communicate a personal finance idea?

side hustleUnless you’ve just emerged from a remote tribal region in South America, you’ve probably heard of this really good preacher named Jesus who lived several millennia ago, who many claim to be the spiritual Savior for all mankind. (Count me among that group.) But you may be unfamiliar with the term “side hustle.” Rest assured it has nothing to do with Pete Rose diving head first into third base or Paul Newman and Robert Redford conning their way to a fortune in The Sting.

Having a side hustle refers to someone pursuing a secondary stream of income earned aside from their full time job. So for instance, generating income from a blog on the side or delivering pizzas at night after work would be classified as side hustle money. Many times side hustles line up with a person’s passion and if hustled on long enough with success, could allow them to transition from their full time job into that hustle. At the very minimum, the extra money they bring in provides some breathing room in the monthly budget.

The potential side hustle ideas are limitless, only confined to the depth of imagination of what you could come up with to make money.  J. Money at Budgets Are Sexy has a whole series devoted to people who are creatively pursuing a side hustle.

I admit the idea of Jesus having a “business-on-the-side” is purely speculative on my part and may amount to doctrinal heresy. But the idea is not without precedent in the Bible.

Jesus and His Side Hustle

The Old Testament prophet Amos maintained a full-time job as a sheep-herder while tending sycamore trees on the side. Similarly, the great New Testament missionary Paul is known to have supported his mission work by making and selling tents.

The Bible gives no clear word that Jesus did any extra work to earn a living once he began his ministry. In fact, his full-time job of teaching wasn’t designed to produce income as far as I can see. But it’s a logical conclusion he could have been earning money on the side considering what we know about his upbringing, his ministry timeline, and those who served with him.

Clearly Jesus and his disciples possessed era specific skills that were suitable to produce side hustle income. He himself was a carpenter, trained under his father Joseph’s watchful eye. His disciples were mostly uneducated men but skilled in the art of fishing. We know the group of disciples had a treasurer who kept a moneybag. Where did that money come from? Was it only from people Jesus ministered to who chose to support him financially?

Think about this – Jesus’ ministry lasted around three years. The events detailing his life in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John do not contain enough stories to fill each day of the calendar for three years. Sometimes we read through those books like the events of his life happened back to back, day in and day out. That is not the case. There are huge gaps – silent periods – where Jesus’ activities are not discussed. Where was he going and what was he doing in all that time we know nothing about?

Could he have been hired to make a kitchen table for someone when he wasn’t traveling from town to town healing the sick? Were the disciples out fishing and selling their catch at the marketplace on their day off? Did they help any of the local farmers in the fields? Was the tax collector turned disciple Matthew hired again during the Roman tax season to collect Jewish revenue owed the government?

Whether or not Jesus had a side hustle we will probably never know. The issue of side hustles in general is legit though. Many people have found their way out of debt or into a better quality of life because they chose to diversify their revenue stream. As long as one has the time, need and desire they are worth exploring.

Questions: What side hustle are you working on now? How are you using the money earned in your side hustle? How do you manage your time between work, family and side hustle?

Image by Heinz Kluetmeier at SportsIllustrated.cnn.com

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  1. MoneySmartGuides says

    That is pretty funny! It is always a good idea to have more than 1 source of income. This way, you make extra money and also if one thing fails you always have the other to fall back on. It just makes good sense. Key is to make your side hussle something you love!

    • Agreed…I wouldn’t do a side hustle I didn’t love unless I was absolutely forced to (for a time) so I could reach a financial goal (like paying off debt).

    • I know I’m late in this discussion, but this topic reminds me of my own grandfather. His dad (who died before I was born) required each of his sons to learn two skills so that they would always be able to find a job; my grandfather was trained as both a butcher and a welder. It wasn’t technically side-hustling, but I think that was a pretty savvy piece of advice for young men in the 1930’s.

  2. ha ha! The title cracks me up! I have many side hustles including my blog, teach volleyball, writing, and personal assistant. The fact that Im a freelancer already makes this possible. When video work gets busy I scale back on the other stuff.

  3. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says

    Love this, Brian! I too think it’s very plausible that Jesus was doing some side hustle stuff during his ministry years! We are loving our side hustle stuff, as it’s allowing us to have some breathing room in our budget and pay off our debt faster. And because it’s mostly writing, blogging, freelancing stuff, I can work around my schedule at home here as I home school our four kids.

  4. haha funny title! My side hustle would be my blog and freelance writing that I’m getting into. It helps support my family, built our ER fund and paid off debt. Balancing it all is tough. It helps that I have a supportive husband who encourages me that’s for sure.

  5. Shannon Ryan says

    Love the title, Brian! I guess The Heavy Purse is my side hustle, although I can’t say I’m making much money from it … yet. I do believe that I have helped people, which is my goal, so I still feel good about the work I’m doing, although I do hope to eventually earn money from it too. 🙂 It is definitely a balance between family, full-time job and side hustle. Having a supportive husband is key and then a good team to help out with the business and The Heavy Purse helps make it doable and still remain fun!

    • I feel we are in similar stages with our blogs Shannon. It’s more of an outlet to help others than it is making money yet. Right now I’m enjoying the blogging process, interaction with others, getting positive feedback that I’m being an encouragement. We’ll see where it ultimately leads in regards to being a money making machine. But I don’t every want to lose the “fun” aspect of it. The day I do, I won’t blog anymore.

  6. This may be the best blog post title ever! I seriously did a double-take haha. I never really thought about how Amos and Paul had side hustles, but now that you mention it even people in the bible who are deeply invested in ministry oftentimes do something productive/of value to support themselves. Yes, I’m sure plenty of people offered them places to stay, meals, etc., but it seems like they embraced work. I personally would have a hard time being in ministry full-time because I don’t like asking for others to support me. At the same time there is pride and ignorance in there as some people don’t have the opportunity to be missionaries full-time and are happy to be part of the work (we support one of our friends who is going to Japan to be a full-time missionary and are happy about the opportunity to be part of that mission). If you can have a side hustle while working full-time in ministry, you get the best of both worlds imo.

    • Haha…Thanks DC! I almost couldn’t bring myself to use the title. Seemed too funny/weird. I believe it’s fine for those in full-time ministry to do something on the side, especially those who might be serving in a smaller ministry. Just as long as the ministry comes first. It would be unwise to have your side hustle evolve to the point where it negatively impacted your ministry.

  7. Nick Loper says

    Hey Brian, thanks for the shout-out. Love the references — I guess side hustles aren’t a 21st century phenomenon at all!

  8. Come to think of it, what was Jesus and the disciples upto when not preaching, healing and travelling? Fishing, carpentry or (out of line) – selling wine that Jesus may have converted from water. Makes for interesting speculation.
    Right now in addition to offering blog assistance I moonlight as a book-keeper for some small business and help with the accounts from time to time.

    • I always wonder about this stuff Simon. I’m sure Jesus spent a lot of time teaching his disciples how to be leaders, because that is what they ultimately became once he left and the early church started. Bookkeeping is a great side hustle for those who have a familiarity with Quickbooks or some other types of software.

  9. Holly Johnson says

    Good post =)
    My side hustle turned into my full-time job earlier this year. So, I guess I don’t have a side hustle anymore. That’s weird to think about! =)

    • Thanks Holly! You were one of the people I thought about as I was writing this as I’ve been following your transition over the last year. You are the perfect example of someone whose side hustle passion turned into a new (and more enjoyable) full-time career.


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