Bumped into an interesting conversation on Facebook tonight. Under normal circumstances, I avoid contentious conversations about politics or religion, especially in public spaces. People are usually passionate about both topics and inevitably, seemingly innocent comments are taken out of context. Tempers start to flare and things become explosive. In my opinion, the conversations do more harm than good.
I ran across a post that featured the net worth of several prominent preachers/pastors and a message about selling the Gospel, which the person posted with the caption “Preaching pays.” Since I was familiar with the ministries of the preachers in the post, I simply commented, “This is misleading. Each of these preachers has multiple streams of income. Preaching is only one part.” Most of the other people who responded referenced fleecing sheep, wolves in sheep’s clothing, Pharisees, Sadducees, Ananais and Sapphira, etc. One person said that people (I suppose he meant Christians) were “continually making excuses for them.” I added one final comment to the post, “Not really defending their character. Just stating a fact.” Then, I exited the conversation. But it made me wonder.
Pastors are called to care for the souls of people. Physicians are called to care for the bodies of people. Both service clientele who have varying levels of income but frequently demand the same intensity or longevity of care. Yet, the masses don’t frequently cry out against the income level of their physicians. Why must the preacher live like a pauper to prove piety? If he or she preaches and (insert any other income generating type of endeavor), then he or she may generate an increasing level of income. Why should your preacher give a personal financial statement to anyone other than the IRS because they simply receive an honorarium or a paycheck in exchange for a service rendered? When was the last time you asked your physician for an itemized report of how your co-pay was distributed? How many people know that there are fewer scholarships for theological education than there are for medical education? When was the last time your preacher billed you for the time you spent in his or her office seeking counsel on a major life decision? Or for the time spent on the phone with your wayward child? Or for the time spent in preparation to deliver the Word that inspired you to run on and see what the end’s gonna be?
I’m not defending anyone’s character. Just posing some questions.
And for the record, preaching doesn’t always pay.