If you've ever heard anyone say that, how did it make you feel? Did you agree or disagree? Did it make you angry?
I've never heard anyone say those exact words to me personally, but I have heard stories about it being said; and I've heard about similar thought patterns. Such as:
- People getting mad at the pastor because he or she drives a nice car.
- People getting mad at the pastor because he or she dresses nicely, wearing very nice-looking suits or dresses. (Or shoes or always has her nails done nicely or … you get the picture).
- People getting mad because the pastor goes on nice vacations or gets his or her spouse a nice gift.
Well, you know what, Body of Christ? I have an opinion about this whole “my pastor makes too much money” thing, and I'm going to share it.
My opinion is based on:
1. Over thirteen-and-a-half years of current, professional experience in a Fortune 500 company (5.5 years as a case manager and 8 years as a financial analyst), during which time I have reviewed the salaries, job duties, and compensation of pastors from denominations large and small; from country churches to megachurches; from senior pastors, to worship leaders, to orchestra directors, to children's pastors.
2. Twelve years functioning as an intercessor for my local church family (awesome people with plenty of struggles in life, just like you and me) and its pastors.
3. Just over 3 years of being officially commissioned as an under-shepherd of a LifeGroup at my local church, with 3 years of unofficial assisting in shepherding before that. (Our church commissions its teachers to be shepherds of groups. I do not have the official title of pastor, and I don't get paid to lead. However, I'm still shepherding, so I am speaking from the perspective of an under-shepherd.)
Now that we've got that over with, here's my beef:
You have no idea what it takes to pastor you.
I mean really. You don't.
I don't even know what it takes to pastor me. Although I desire to be a crown in God's hand to my spiritual fathers, I'm sure I've caused them more than my fair share of hassle. Dear me. I'm decisive, proactive, creative, and have the gift of administration. And yet they put up with me. 🙂 (Thank God.)
I seriously can't imagine how difficult it is for our pastors to shepherd us.
But then again, I do have a little taste of it. It's the smallest little taste, but it's enough to let me see that our pastors' burden must be so heavy that only God could bear it.
I have that smallest little taste because I know what it takes for me to shepherd my people.
I know that I love them. I love them so much it hurts. I love them so much that, if I could give anything to see their needs met, I would. I love them so much I would rip out my heart and give it to them if I could, and if it would help them.
I love them so much that I have lain countless hours on my face, crying out to God on their behalf. I love them so much that I have told God that I would give my life to see this person or that person free. (But thank God, I don't have to; Jesus already did.)
I love them so much that I don't mind if they call me morning, noon, or midnight, and if I can possibly be there for them, I will.
I love them so much that I know I can't help them, and I beg God to disciple my children Himself.
I love them so much that I ask God pretty often if I am somehow crazy to love them that much. But He keeps telling me no–and keeps sending signs that, somehow, we're supposed to love our sheep like that.
It's almost like we're supposed to pursue Jesus' model of discipleship, or something to that effect.
But you know what?
My people are worth it. They are worth any price, and it's an honor and high privilege to serve them in any way I can.
But what about YOUR pastor? You know, the pastor who makes too much money?
I only lead a small handful of people. But can't you imagine what a senior pastor might go through to shepherd me and you?
Can you imagine the sleepless nights spent crying out to God for parishioners who are hurting, backsliding, or dying?
Can you imagine the sense of continually carrying the burden of you and me–sheep for whom your pastor will one day stand before God and give account–on your chest like the priest's breastplate?
Can you imagine the hours your pastor spends in fasting and prayer, crying out to God for personal needs, the church's needs as a whole, and for your needs and mine?
Can you imagine the agony of spirit he or she feels before preaching, or when writing a sermon–knowing that he/she is responsible for rightly dividing the Word of God to a people divinely appointed to hear the message?
Can you imagine being the first one hit if spiritual warfare comes against the church? Do YOU want to carry a target on your chest in the spirit realm?
Can you imagine being continually subjected to a barrage of criticism, of people's opinions, of judgmental attitudes, and of petty arguments, and never being able to stop the flow of negativity that comes at you every day?
Can you imagine the heartbreak your pastor feels when he feeds you the Word, if you don't accept it?–so you stay in bondage of your own choosing, even though he handed you the keys to freedom, interceding the whole time for you to take up the key and run with it?
I can't. I can't imagine responsibility of that magnitude, or having all those possibly thousands of people that could break your heart. And if someone offered you the senior pastor's job and threw the church keys at you today–unless you're called to that job, my friend–you'd be smart to run for your life.
Brother, sister: your pastor doesn't get paid enough to handle all that.
Frankly, from 13.5 years of reviewing pastors' salaries and compensation from many, many churches across various denominations in America, it's my personal opinion that pastors don't get paid all that much anyway.
Seriously. Even the highest salaries I've seen are low compared to what their counterparts in an equivalent, executive position in a secular company would earn. The salaries are also low even compared to many professional jobs that aren't even executives.
Even when fringe benefits are thrown in, the salaries I've seen are generally low. If pastors simply cared about earning more money, they could do much better by becoming stockbrokers or corporate managers.
But you know what? No matter where your pastor is even on the salary range–from the really-low end to the higher end of the still-low range–your pastor still doesn't get paid enough to do what they do.
But for some reason, they do it anyway. Why? Not because of the money, but because of the call.
It's because they're called. No other reason. The voice of God called them. The Spirit of God equipped them. And the hand of God keeps them and constrains them, even if they want to quit.
It's all about the call, and the call comes all because of Jesus.
And friend, you should want your pastor to be as blessed as he or she can possibly be.
Frankly, you shouldn't be making judgments about that nice car, the nice suit, the Rolex, or the Super Bowl tickets. You don't know the backstory, like:
- Maybe they cut off their cable TV so they could save the money to go on that vacation.
- Maybe someone gave them that nice car after their old, beat-up Chevy died at 350,000 miles.
- Maybe they won the Super Bowl tickets in a contest.
You don't know. And frankly, whether you know the backstory or not, it would still be none of your business.
Because regardless of how your pastor is doing financially–whether he/she is doing well or not–you should want your pastor to be blessed, and you should bless them as much as you can … because it's not easy to take care of you. 🙂
That's why Scripture tells us:
Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches” (Galatians 6:6).
“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
A worker is worthy of his wages. And if you're taught the Word, you should want your pastor to be blessed. You should actually share in all good things with him who teaches (yes, including money).
Don't blame me. It's the Word of God. #sorrynotsorryagain
So I don't know what your pastor drives, but you should want him to drive the most gorgeous Ferrari God ever made, and be happy for him if someone gives him one. 🙂
I don't know where your pastor goes on vacation–(can he even afford to go on vacation??? there's food for thought)–but you should be happy for him if he goes on that around-the-world cruise you've always dreamed of yourself. And flies first class and stays at the Hyatt hotel.
And I don't know what your pastor wears, but I hope he looks nice. He's presenting the Gospel; he works hard; and he deserves to look nice and feel good about himself.
So here's my point: the whole “My pastor makes too much money” thing doesn't fly.
If your pastor is really pastoring, then your pastor doesn't make enough money. No matter how well he or she is doing. No matter what he drives or what she wears. No matter where she goes on vacation. It's not possible for him or her to make enough money. Money could simply never compensate your pastor for the price he or she pays, day in and day out, just to shepherd YOU.
But you know what? You're worth it.
And I'll bet you that pastor could never walk away and do anything else, even on days when he wants to really badly, because he's called. She's called. And it's all about Jesus.
So don't try to push some kind of spirit of poverty on your pastor. He doesn't need to be poor. He needs to be blessed.
The Bible never called you, me, or our pastors to be cursed with poverty. Our pastors are called to be blessed in every area under the sun, just like you and I are, and to experience every blessing available to us in Christ Jesus.
Moral of the story? If your pastor is doing well, be happy for him or her. If he's not, bless him. Sow into his or her life. Thank him or her for everything they have done for you.
Because maybe, just maybe, your pastor doesn't make too much money after all.
What are your thoughts on this subject? Leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you.