Part 1 "Worthy of His Hire"
I have been a member of 8 or 9 Baptist churches in the last 30 years, and of all the pastors and assistant pastors, youth ministers, music ministers, and anyone else I've known who had a full-time/part-time "staff" position in the church, I cannot think of very many who did not have to rely on some form of additional income from time to time in order to make ends meet. I've even known some who had to drop their salary altogether and rely on a secondary source of income in order to pay the bills and keep the church doors open.
Some would see no problem with this, maybe even suspect that is the way it should be.
"After all, preachers are too greedy these days anyway, right? I mean, why should the pastor not have to get a 'real' job like us...he should know how it feels to get out there and work hard for his living? Isn't that what the 'ministry' is about, sacrificing?! And God forbid he should be driving as nice of a car or nicer than the average church member!" rants the grouchy "pew occupier" who has been bitter toward their pastor for 20 years.
Well, the purpose of this series of articles is certainly not to defend any lazy preacher who is not "worthy of his hire." My purpose is to show the value of our pastors' labor and the need for us to take better care of them, as well as presenting some helpful tips and ideas for those ministers who are forced to find a secondary source of income.
The Value of our Pastors' Labor
I'm convinced, if the majority of the pastors I know were to present a detailed, accurate list of everything they have accomplished, every little task they have performed, and just their basic, overall "job description," they would probably qualify in the secular world for a position that pays double what they are making in ministry right now. And this doesn't even include all the work their wives contribute to their ministry (but we will leave that for another article)! Let's look at a small sample of what most pastors would have to offer the secular world (Note: I'm not a statistician! This is just a simple thought with some simple figures thrown out there in order to make a point):
A Chaplain. I know it is not necessarily "secular" in that it is still considered a religious ministry, but as a very minimum I would say the average pastor provides the same service that a chaplain provides in terms of counseling and encouraging individuals and the loved ones of those individuals who are sick, hurting and afflicted. The average annual salary for a chaplain (according to payscale.com) is around $45,000.
A Manager. From a retail manager to store manager of a fast food restaurant, most pastors I know, have the basic skills and work ethic to walk into just about any store and figure out, with a little time, how to manage the business and the staff. The average income each year for a manager (according to payscale.com) is around $45,000.
A High school coach. First of all, many pastors started out working with youth and have learned how to deal with them in many ways better than the young youth leader they may have working with them. Working with teens takes a special ability, but besides that, being able to motivate them, lead them to make something out of their lives and to strive for perfection... it is a tough job in many ways, and no doubt most of our pastors have carried that skill into the pastorate (after all, lots of adults still act like kids!). Well, the secular world has decided that the average high school football coach (according to simplyhired.com) is worth around $45,000 per year.
A High school teacher. Every preacher I know has what it takes to teach a class. Obviously that is a big part of what they do (their field of expertise being in teaching the Bible). So, we can definitely put teaching down on this list...and pastors teach all year long (though technically they typically only "teach" a few times per week) It puzzles me a bit that a teacher falls almost $10,000 short of a football coach, but apparently the average teacher makes (according to simplyhired.com) about $37,000 per year.
Now, looking at these averages, I think it is fair to assume that average salary for a pastor should be at least comparable to the jobs listed above, and it will probably fall somewhere slightly above the average income of all church members. In fact, (according to payscale.com) the average pastor indeed makes about $45,000 (probably not many that I know...but let's go ahead and assume that would be the average income of all the pastors you and I know). I think if you knew and considered all your pastor does (probably a combination of the above mentioned jobs, plus a little extra) you would agree that his labor is at least worth that!
However, we understand that many churches (especially in smaller, rural areas) cannot afford to pay this. We also realize that this amount will be affected by the area of the country in which he ministers. It isn't so much important that we keep up with what everyone else is doing, but we should take care of our pastor however we can. Perhaps that means freeing up some of his time by helping with time-consuming tasks such as yard work, cleaning and maintenance of vehicles, or babysitting so he can take his wife out to dinner. Perhaps we can help honor our pastors by buying them occasional bags of groceries or sending them on special vacations (that is, if we can convince them that things won't fall apart while they are gone).
The point is simply this, the laborer is indeed worthy of his hire! It is to our own advantage that we care for our pastor financially (as well as emotionally and physically).
Consider the apostle Paul's words to Timothy:
"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward." (1 Timothy 5:17,18)
It is definitely not wrong, or even unwise for pastors to earn an additional income (I plan on dealing with that issue more specifically in the next article). However, I believe that if it is possible, we should free our pastor from any such burden so that he is able to do the work God has called him to do: praying, visiting, ministering the Word of God... If your pastor is overworked and underpaid, be in fervant prayer that the Lord would lead him and the church members to the best solution.
May your passion for ministry grow as you "addict yourself" to it (1 Corinthians 16:15).
RR Go to part 2 >
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