Vol. 12 No. 7 July 2010
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
The honest congregation, wanting to treat “their” preacher with respect regarding the financial aspect of his work, will often “take inventory” of his salary package (health insurance, salary, social security, expenses, housing allowance, educational allotment, retirement, et al). This is often (and should be) done at least once every year. Just like any working person, preachers suffer the annual increases in cost of living, health care and the everyday expenses with which all families struggle. When the subject of a preacher’s salary comes up, some brethren seem to think that the “Christian” thing to do is pay the preacher the least that they can, so there is NO chance of him getting ahead or flourishing financially. However, such a mentality is NOT Christian, and certainly not biblical! How much is the work of a preacher really worth? Before answering, consider:
Firstly, the work of the preacher bolsters and builds faith. Paul made it abundantly clear that faith is only possible by hearing the Word of God, and hearing involves a preacher (cf. Romans 10:13ff). Therefore, it the case that a Gospel preacher who works diligently each week to challenge and feed a congregation of God’s people is certainly bolstering and building the personal faith of its members. How much is that worth to you personally?
Secondly, the work of the preacher can alter the course of eternity. Paul, in writing to a Gospel preacher affirmed, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16, emp. added). For a man to give his life to the work of preaching the Gospel is in one sense proof as to how he personally views the souls of others. Diligent study, daily preparation and determined pleading for the souls of mankind are what the Gospel preacher does throughout his lifetime. If one of those souls happens to be yours or one of your children, how much is his work really worth (cf. Matthew 16:26)?
Thirdly, the work of the preacher is the most important work in the eyes of God. God only had one Son and He was a preacher! That fact alone should tell us how God views this profession. Of all the methods the all-wise God of heaven could have chosen, He chose preaching to reveal His message to mankind (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21). If God were to determine the preacher’s salary package in comparison with all other professions, how much would He allot each year for His faithful preachers? What will God have to say to elderships and memberships on the Day of Judgment who failed to show liberality to “their” preachers and their families?
I know numerous God-fearing, sound, hard-working Gospel preachers who have no desire to acquire financially everything in this life, nor are they “out for all they can get.” However, these same men do desire to support and care for their families, just as any other person is commanded to do (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8). God expects His preachers and their families to be financially cared for by congregations (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Timothy 5:18; et al). How much should a preacher be supported to preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (cf. Ephesians 3:8)? Each eldership must answer that question. Hence, we end with the question with which we began: “How much is the work of a preacher really worth?” Consider prayerfully!
In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus was asked by a lawyer of his day, “Master, which is the great commandment of the law?” Jesus responded, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Jesus tells this man that the greatest commandment is for one to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind. This involves far more than simply saying that we love God, but requires of us the willingness to do all that God commands in the way He commands it to be done. It is unfortunate that many who say they love God believe they can then do whatever they desire and God will approve. Such is not the case.
Part of showing that we love God is also seen in our treatment of one another (Vs. 39). If we love God, we will look out for the welfare of others as much as our own. Are we fulfilling the greatest command in our lives?