Monday, November 8, 2010

Some Preachers STAY Gettin' Paid...

Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.- 1 Corinthians 9:13-14

I used to look at some of these preachers in disgust. It seemed like they were living entirely too good off of their flock. I have heard of preachers who have elevators in their homes, private airplanes and helicopters. I’ve heard of pastors receiving “gifts” from folks in their congregations in the form of Cadillacs and Bentleys.

There was always something about this that didn’t seem right.

Then when I went to Catholic school I heard about monks and nuns who took vows of poverty. They lived lives of hunger and struggle because they gave all that they had to those that they wanted to help. Some of them renounced all material wealth in the effort to live a more sanctified life. When it came to folks like this I thought to myself, “yeah that’s cool and all… but good gracious couldn’t you help folk better if you weren’t hungry”?

Of course there are a multitude of folks in the middle of these two extremes. Some spiritual leaders are like my father; they work a day job to help support their ministry. Many other pastors have churches that are big enough to support their needs. They earn a modest salary from the church so that they can focus 100% of their energy on growing the congregation. It is interesting though that this has been an issue from the time of the early church. The question of how much a religious body ought to pay their leaders has always been a touchy subject.

When I think about it I really don’t have a right or wrong answer. How much money is too much? How much money is enough? Should the church leaders live any better than the least of their flock? If not then do we want them to be starving while trying to do God’s work? If so, then how much better? When is does it become too much. If a pastor builds a multi-million dollar ministry that reaches folks all over the globe then why shouldn’t he have a high salary? Should they make as much as a CEO of a similar sized organization? What about half as much?

Yuck… this makes me cringe.

One thing that I have come to realize is that there really is no right answer here. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t like whatever the arrangement is between a pastor and his or her church. But what is most important is whether or not they are doing God’s work.

If the quality of life of the folks in the pews is improving then that is what matters. If folks souls are at peace, if their spirits are filled, if their intellect is engaged, then that is what matters. If the folks in the church are growing as loving children of God and as constructive citizens of the world then that is what matters. That shows that the leader is doing their job. And when it comes down to it, that kind of work is priceless.

Now with all that said… elevators and planes and such things do rub me the wrong way… But who am I to judge? I’m sure God will work it all out in the end. 


  1. That's pretty funny. It's always been amazing to me to see how God has provided for us, while in the ministry, at just the right time. We were in a church plant for years where the money was always tight and our salary minimal. But God always took care of us in the most unusual and unsuspecting ways. We were sold a really nice van for $1.00 one time. And it wasn't even a set of hot wheels or the real deal and honest and everything! It would be a whole lot more secure to know how you're gonna pay for certain things. And while we budget and save our money strategically it is also a joy to watch God provide in ways we couldn't even imagine. Like the time he landed a hellicopter in our lap. Just kidding. No elevators or hellicopters yet.

  2. It sure is amazing to see God at work! I'm glad that you have been blessed to continue your mission. But I do have one minor request ... when you get the helicopter or plane.. can I get a ride????

  3. Yes! Great intellect with your writing. As you mentioned this is not a new issue and while it is not new it is also usually not about God as much as it is about personal vanity (power, money, lands, etc.).

    Notwithstanding, Preachers, Pastors and so on should live well just not excessive. What message are you sending if you are displaying your vanity?

    Remember to truly be wealthy means to be rich in spirit.

  4. Ha! Sure thing....when I get that helicopter I'll go round up all the other poor ole preacher's families and we'll go cruisin' the town from above. :)


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