Friday, March 28, 2014

Galatians 6:6 Do pastors need a union?

Paul has given the Galatians admonitions, corrections, training, and encouragement. In this next verse, he is especially practical!

Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. (Galatians 6:6)

Now, as a teacher, I’ll try to leave my own bias out of this, but please forgive me if my “Norma Rae” voice speaks too loudly here! :) I’m going to just attempt to approach this based on the scriptures and not my own thoughts - but even Paul sometimes had to admit he was giving his own counsel in his letters! Since I’m currently reading through the Bible for 2014 (and have successfully made it through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, all the way to 1 Samuel so far, thank you LORD), I’m recently familiar with God’s direction on how those who minister in His name should be remunerated.

The LORD clearly set out in the Old Testament that those serving in ministry were to be supported by the congregation. They were to be completely devoted to the LORD’s service, and so needed to receive provision from God’s people. The same theme holds true in the New Testament in Paul’s letters, when he speaks to the need to financially support preachers and teachers:

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!” (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

And Jesus told his disciples, as he sent them out to ministry, to receive what they earned:

“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’  If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you.  Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay. (Luke 10:5-7)

Does this mean the preacher should have his own mansion, and a private jet? Should he live like a televangelist???? Probably not, since Jesus did not have a home. But should he be able to live in the community in which he serves without his wife taking on a job, too? I think so! When I think about the burden placed on the shoulders of a pastor for his congregation, and the fact that he works tirelessly beyond office hours to study, prepare sermons, visit and pray for his sheep, counsel others, oversee staff and programs, deliver the gospel, and be constantly critiqued, they must be dreadfully underpaid! I’m thinking they could use a union! :)

The very least we can do is to pray for, encourage, and financially support those entrusted with our spiritual care. I had a pastor once who said, “If you want a new pastor, pray for the one you’ve got!” I have never forgotten that, because we live in a world of church hoppers, who want to go where their “needs are met” rather than commit themselves to a body and a pastor.

When you finish reading this, pray for your pastor, and send him an email of thanks and encouragement! I’m sure he could use it!  

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