I was talking to a friend last night, and we got on the subject of pastors’ money and affluence. Today in church they touched on it very briefly as well. I know this is a sore spot with a lot of people–mostly non-Christian, but sadly a lot of Christians too. A lot of people don’t tithe because they don’t know what the church is going to do with the money. They are afraid that it’s going straight into the pastor’s pocket. That couldn’t be far from the truth–at least in churches that operate with integrity. My response to him was two-fold: 1. only people who are spiritually immature are concerned about things like that, and 2. as long as you are doing what you’re supposed to do, then you will be blessed.
1. The Spiritually Immature
I was telling my friend last night that pastors have salaries just like we do. Where the salary comes from, I have no idea and don’t care, but he has a salary nontheless. So, just like you don’t think people should care about what you do with your own wages, what he does with his wages is none of our business! I mean like, what sense does it make to be concerned about what he buys? Check this: When your boss pays you, does he get mad at you if you save your money and buy a nicer car than him? Is he concerned that you are debt free and he is not? No! Once the money is in your hands it’s YOUR money to do with as you please (or if you’re a Christian what God pleases). When you purchase a product are you hesitant to pay for it because you don’t know how that company manages their money, or you think the CEO is going to take it and buy a new yacht? No, you purchase the product without any question. Why? Because you need/want it! And because you need or want it, you don’t really care what happens behind the scenes. It’s just like how people always say that the chicken at the Chinese joint is not real and might be some other animal like cat. People sound concerned about it, but they still eat there! We say we’re concerned about gas prices and say we’re gonna boycott certain places, but we still go there. What’s the point? When the demand for a product is great enough, or when the desire is great enough, the facts don’t really matter and we end up doing what we want or what is familiar. The gospel is a product, and although the pastor is selling it (or shouldn’t be), we ARE commanded to tithe, give of our time (serving), etc. in a local church. This is a good segway into #2….
2. Do What You’re Supposed ToDo
The Bible COMMANDS us to tithe. It’s not a suggestion, a subtle hint, or even required extra credit. It is a non-negotiable commandment! What does that mean? Whether your pastor has 14 Bentleys and 5 jets, is stealing from the church, or not, YOU MUST tithe!! Why? BECAUSE GOD SAID SO!!! Period. You don’t tithe because the pastor asked you to, needs you to, or wants you to. You don’t tithe because the pastor’s wife needs a new mink and the kids need braces. You don’t tithe because the church has a building fund. You don’t tithe because you’re the highest paid person in the church and your money could help out. You don’t even tithe because it’s a good idea. You tithe because God expects it of you. So, if your pastor’s bling is soo bright you can hardly see, tithe anyway. If your pastor’s family seems to be flourishing while everyone else is struggling, tithe anyway. If you don’t see ANY results and no one is coming to Jesus, tithe anyway. Now, true, you may want to make sure you’re at the right church if the aforementioned scenarios ALWAYS play out at your church. God called us to tithe, but He doesn’t want you to continue sowing seed on bad soil. But that doesn’t mean that every pastor that seems to be flourishing is doing some under handed stuff. Did you know that the Bible tells us that we should pay our pastors, and pay them well, if they are doing a good job feeding us the Word? Yeah! It’s right there in the book, but I’m sure most Christians don’t even get this far into the Book…but that’s another blog. I Timothy 5:17 & 18 says, “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.’ And in another place, ‘Those who work deserve their pay!’” That was the New Living Translation. I love how The Message translation starts v. 17 off by saying, “Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job,….” So, let’s break this down for those of you who are still fighting this. a. Is your pastor a leader? Yes. b. Does he work? HECK yeah! My pastor said once that preaching is a very taxing “job.” He said that all of the studying that you do before you even deliver the message, and the actual delivery (which includes a LOT of talking–sometimes loud talking–and God speaking through you), one service is the equivalent of one eight hour workday! So pastors that do more than one service per Sunday (like mine does four!) are working EXTREMELY hard! But that’s only one part of their job. A pastor who is doing his job right should be constantly praying for us and seeking God for direction of the body. In laymen’s terms, he should be losing sleep over spending time with God. Then he has staff meetings because he is the “boss” of the church office. Then he has to go to the hospital, do marriages & funerals, preach on Wednesday nights, counsel members, collaborate with other pastors, etc. On top of all that, he has his OWN family to tend to! WHEW! That makes me tired just thinking about it!! Moving on. c. Does he do his job well? That’s a relative term, but you should know if he’s doing it well–and you can’t judge by how many people shout that Sunday, or by how many “amens” he gets!! Is your church growing? Are people getting saved? Do people love and respect him without him demanding it? If so, then he’s probably doing an excellent job. SO, if you agreed with these 3 things, then guess what? You should pay your pastor! Why? Because if you don’t, then as the scripture says, it’s like you are muzzling him. How? If the pastor is broke just like everybody else…if he’s worried about his lights getting turned off…if they are coming to take his car…do you think it would be possible for him to think clearly enough to deliver a message to you? He probably couldn’t pray effectively for you with his own problems on his mind. I am DEFINITELY not saying that pastors don’t have problems! Pastors are followers of Christ first and a pastor second. Who are followers of Christ? Plain ol people (who are called Christians). Do people have problems? YES! So, yeah…I’m not saying that pastors don’t have any problems, but I’m just saying that the church should take care of his basic needs so that he doesn’t have too many little distractions in his life (hmmm…..because of that I’m thinking maybe his salary comes from the offerings and not tithes…but anyway). So, yes, don’t block your blessings (muzzling him) and your Word from God because your pastor is bogged down with the issues of life because you don’t take care of him. When you really need to talk to your pastor don’t you want his undivided attention? Take care of him, and you’ll have it. Another thing about muzzling to continue that phrase, it says don’t muzzle an ox to keep him from eating the grain. What do you think that means? I’ll let you figure that one out for yourselves. Finally, the scripture ends by saying those who work deserves their pay. What does that mean? In all honesty it means whether you like him or think he’s doing a good job, whether he’s blinging or stealing, if he preaches and that is his job, then you pay him. Period. Think about this. For the most part, most working people are scheduled to work for eight hours. Do most people WORK all eight hours? No. So what if your boss decides to only pay you for the hours you actually worked? You’d be stark, raving mad! Why? Because you have to be in the building away from your family and things that are important to you for at least eight hours of your day and you think that you should be compensated. For the most part the answer is whether you worked or not, you want to be paid for showing up. SO…the pastors showed up! Pay him!
To end this very long post I’ll say this: a mature Christian is not concerned about this. A mature Christian knows that not tithing is out of the question. She knows that God will bless her faithfulness for being obedient. What happens when the envelop hits the basket is out of her hands. If the pastor wants to take it all, then the curse will fall on his house–not hers! She knows that God sees everything and is not a dummy. She knows that there is a method to His madness and that she plays a part in His plan some kind of way, and she is obliged to be in the number. She’s actually quite glad to see that the pastor is doing well because she knows that God rewards faithfulness. Because of that she is comforted because she also knows that the blessings fall from ABOVE. Why is that important? Because God is a God of order. God deals with and blesses the head first. So if the pastor is blessed, then the blessings can’t help but to trickle down the line. That’s why membership has it’s privileges (you need a covering!). So if the pastor decides that he can afford a new car…praise God! If he can afford for all his kids to have cars (nice ones)…praise God! Aren’t you going to do the same thing when your blessing comes?! So, like I said, his money is not your concern!