Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why Pay a Pastor?

1 Cor. 9:3-12 (ESV)
This is my defense to those who would examine me. [4] Do we not have the right to eat and drink? [5] Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? [6] Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? [7] Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
[8] Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? [9] For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? [10] Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. [11] If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? [12] If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
1 Cor. 9:14 (ESV)
In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

Here in Utah, most people have no conception of a pastor. The idea of getting paid to preach offends many people. The Mormons evidently sees the idea of paid clergy as a sign of the anti-Christ. Though I would hate to see the amount they spend on their “prophet” and the “quorum of the twelve.” Spare me the details of they don’t have a salary. George Washington didn’t have a salary during the revolutionary war, but congress put an end to that when they saw the receipts they had to reimburse him for. They figured a salary was much cheaper. But I digress.
It is true that Paul did not receive a salary from the Corinthian church during his time there. He wanted to preach the gospel free of charge. I think most pastors would like to be independently wealthy so they could do the same. I’ve seen it done here and there and it is a beautiful thing. Paul received a modest stipend though from the congregations in Macedonia, (2 Cor. 11:9) and supplemented that making tents. A person needs some sort of an income, and pastors should not be beggars.
It wasn’t that Paul was not entitled to income; it was that he didn’t want it. However this seems to have offended the Corinthians. They were used to paying sophists and charlatans for teaching. This was the practice. Paul wanted to distinguish his teaching in this town, by not charging. But it almost backfired. Some thought he didn’t take it because he felt guilty for not being a true apostle, and therefore was not entitled to payment. Why would one turn down payment he was entitled too?
I for one am glad I have the congregation I do. They happily pay me to study the Bible, and share it with them and others. It is a glorious occupation. It really is. I could not do the job I do though if they did not pay me. I wouldn’t be able to visit the people I visit during the day or even the evening. Some days it might be possible for me to have another job. But there are days in which that is not true. To give good pastoral care you have to be free to drop everything and go to the hospital, the morgue, the houses of loved ones left behind. Some days I get a little proud looking at the new people the Holy Spirit has blessed me with in my congregation. I think about the work that went into that, day time visits and so on. I start to think they are a result of my work. But they aren’t it is the Holy Spirit ultimately. But he did work through me. However, I wouldn’t be here if he didn’t also work through my congregation. The new members are fruits of their labor, much more than mine. Without them I would not have the joy of catechizing, visiting, studying and sharing. I’d be stuck pumping gas, and another soul would be robbed of hearing the gospel.

1 comment:

steve martin said...

Great post, Bror.

Some people are offended that pastors get a salary. I am one that believes that they don't get enough.

To shepherd people in the gospel is the most important occupation in the world. Not to say that others aren't important as well, but peoples salvation is at stake.

"How can they hear if they don't have a preacher?", St. Paul says.

Thanks be to God that Christ has caled you to the ministry. Thanks be to God for your flock that recognizes their need in having a full tome, paid pastor.
Thanks be to God for all those pastors that are faithful servants to the Word.