Todays blog is my reply to a brilliant comment from yesterdays blog, posted by my dear Indonesian friend Esslythe Harsanto. If you have the time, you should re-familiarize yourself with that blog, “Pure Honesty Is A Beautiful Thing,” and read Esslythe’s comment.
Here in America, we normally do the same thing. In-house ministers don’t normally receive payment for ministering at their home church.
We do customarily pay salaries to certain key “full time” ministry leaders, such as the Lead Pastor, Lead Worship Pastor, Administrative Personnel, Youth and Children’s Pastors, and other full time ministry leaders depending upon the size of the church community.
For me, the key to what you’re saying is that it is permissible for ministers to receive payment for ministry related activities, as long as he or she is never doing ministry “for hire”.
As you know, the American economy was hit very hard last year.
I know of a church that went through a very difficult time when a group of people left in hostility to start another church. During that time, the Lead Pastor and his wife forfeited almost one half of their salary and benefits in order to navigate their church through those rough waters. The sacrifice was so painful, this Pastor almost lost his house to bank foreclosure.
During this time, he started to question God, “Why are you not providing for me.”
And God replied, “Dear child, do you remember when you first entered into full time ministry and you begged Me to send you? Do you remember telling Me, ‘Please God, I will do ministry for free, I will even pay You for the privilege of ministering to Your special people… I will sacrifice everything if you will just say the word! Please call me out of the boat and I will walk on the water!'”
God continued, “Ever since the day you went into full time ministry, I have provided all of your needs. You have been very blessed for your service in my Kingdom… even though you promised to work for nothing and you promised you would even pay Me for the ‘privilege’ of ministering to My special people.”
Finally, God’s words had a profound effect on this discouraged pastor when He said, “And now today, you are being called to keep that promise you made to Me. I am testing you at this time… to see if you really meant what you promised. Do you still have that same heart, today? Are you still serving in my Kingdom for the right reasons? Are you still willing to ‘sacrifice everything’ for the PRIVILEGE of SERVING my special people? Or has the ministry become your career? Have you become a hireling just that fast?”
Thankfully, this minister understood what the Lord was explaining to him… and he recommitted his life to the PURE SERVICE of his high calling!
God loves to reward His children for their service in His Kingdom. There are so many scriptures in the Old and New Testaments where God commands His people to financially reward those who serve in ministry. Here is one of them…
1 Timothy 5:17-18 NLT, “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”
Yet, we that serve in ministry must always maintain the purity of our real reason for being in ministry. Jesus is our model. He is the ultimate Shepherd. Jesus created an example that we should always follow.
In John 10:11-15, Jesus taught about this to His closest disciples on the night he was betrayed. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”
Dear Essly, you and your people have a true Shepherds heart today, because you have a beautiful Pastor who has taught you very well. Guard you hearts always… so that even when the time comes that you are financially rewarded for your service, you will never become like the hired help.
I long to visit my dear friends in Indonesia. You people inspire me everyday! God willing, the time will come… and what a day that will be!
To everyone else who serves in God’s Kingdom… always do what you do because you genuinely love God and the people you are serving. Never for any kind of reward. Always guard your heart against the selfish spirit of this age. Study the life and teachings of Jesus Christ… and aim to be more and more like Him in every way!
Here’s a great song for this moment: Perfect Love, Hillsong.
I just finished praying for you all. Make this a most triumphant day! With much love…
Dream Big, Live Bold, and Make the Difference!