I am going to get myself in trouble with some people with this entry – I’m going to talk about money.
We are living in an age when the “prosperity gospel” has grown in enormous popularity and taken a strong grip, if not a stranglehold, in many Christian pulpits. Simply stated, is a theology that defines spiritual blessings in financial terms. It’s a worldview that pairs a lack of material means with a lack of spiritual muscle. I am willing to go on the record in stating that not only is this an inaccurate interpretation of scripture, it is dangerous and harmful. For the purposes of this blog, I will limit my comments to the impact of this thinking on the pastors and spiritual leaders.
Why do you think there is so much discussion in scripture about money? I think it is because God knows that the almighty dollar is a force that comes about as close as you can get to matching the power of the Almighty God. It should be noted that right at the top of the list of the qualifications for the overseer of the church is being ”free from the love of money” (I Timothy 3:3). God knows that money has a way of stealing our loyalty and diverting our attention – “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24).
Because many pastors feel overworked and underpaid, money and issues surrounding it can become a serious distraction, if not downright temptation. Your attitude about money, both on a personal level as well as a corporate level, will be a great determining factor in your satisfaction with ministry. I want to share with you some important lessons (actually, only one) I’ve learned concerning money that have saved both my ministry and my mind.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is this: confirm your call, not your salary. If God has called you into His service, will He not be faithful to provide for your needs as well? Isn’t that the promise of Matthew 6:33? “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
In Luke 22:25, not long before His death that would propel the disciples into the scary, lonely world of ministry, Jesus called the disciples together and asked them a crucial question: “And He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?’ They said, ‘No, nothing.’ Earlier, Jesus had challenged them to put God’s needs above their own, by focusing on kingdom work and trusting that their own needs would be met. They took the challenge and now it was grading time. God passed with flying colors.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ignoring the need for money in either the personal life of the pastor or the corporate life of the church. That would be foolish. Nor am I suggesting that the calling to pastoral ministry carries with it an implied vow of poverty. That would be irresponsible. I am simply stating that we have to know that we can trust God to provide for our needs and not make money the dominant, focal and defining point of our life and ministry.