If you know me, you know I’m not a huge fan of social media and I rarely comment on anything. But recently I became curious about a site called Reddit that one of my sons recommended. Basically, it’s a forum site where people learn and comment about almost any topic in the world.
One day, I browsed the current posts in the Christianity section. A young lady wrote that she was feeling uncomfortable with the amount of money her church’s pastors were making and spending. They seemed to be living much better than the congregants and church salaries were 50% of the yearly budget. She was wondering if she was wrong to be bothered by it.
Since the topic of pastor salaries and lifestyle is an area of particular interest to me (one of my pet peeves, actually!), I couldn’t resist commenting though I normally refrain! I wrote that the young lady was right to be disturbed. I related that I think the pastors should take a salary that amounts to around the average income of the congregants.
If that average amount isn’t enough to live on or to have the extras a pastor might want, he can get a side job. After all, the apostle Paul supported himself for a long time while he traveled, preached and established churches.
After I commented, I received a reply from another member who had read the original post and my response. This is what he said:
“You assume all pastors are exactly the same in all aspects of his profession. Like all surgeons have the exact same ability and with the exact same outcome for their patient. How about athletes? Why do some ballers make a 100 times more than other ballers….That’s not fair! They are paid what they are worth. Welcome to the real world.”
This common viewpoint is one of the reasons our churches are a in a mess! Pastors are not meant to be professionals like surgeons or athletes! I responded to him this way:
But being a pastor is completely different than being a professional anything! That’s part of the problem with churches. A pastor is a servant leader of the people, not an executive, or a star. We have turned churches into secular corporations and the pastoral role into a C-suite title.
Read the pastoral Epistles where the apostle Paul gives instructions to pastors/elders Timothy and Titus. They work in and for the kingdom of God, not the “real” world’s system. It’s a family, a fellowship, a place to learn, a place to love and be loved.
Being a pastor is not a career, it’s a calling. If you are called to it, you would do it no matter the compensation and God would provide for your needs in one way or another.
Pastoral qualifications are spiritual and character qualities plus the ability to teach scripture. (1 Timothy 1-7, 2 Timothy 2:24-26). “Worth” in the secular corporate measure is not a factor.
Paul was the greatest apostle, highly educated and qualified, yet he learned to be content with little, even though there were times he had more. (Philippians 4:12)
Paul says in 1Timothy 6:7, “having food and clothing we should be content.” He goes on to warn against desiring money because that desire leads us away from God and into all kinds of destruction.
The kingdom of God is an “upside down” kingdom where those who are first are to take the last place (Matthew 20:16) because it is more blessed to give than to receive. In taking the last place we are more like the example of Jesus who gave up all for us.
Anyone can learn to preach, but not many will lay down their lives, including a large paycheck, for others. That’s the test of a Christian and especially of a pastor. Their rewards will definitely come (both now and later) but they will be mostly spiritual rewards, which are infinitely more valuable than money.
God bless every true shepherd of God’s flock, especially in these days of high-paid, professional preachers.