They sat quietly as I delivered my dilemma. When I finished, one remarked, “Well, Preacher, can we think about it?” while the others said, “If he can’t support his family, I don’t see where he has a choice.”
I was pastoring a small congregation nestled in the middle of nowhere thirty miles from anywhere. After the first year, it became painfully obvious we couldn’t live on my salary. They were doing their best; it simply wasn’t enough. I would either have to resign or supplement my income. An opportunity to teach at a private school provided the chance to do the latter.
Nehemiah was disappointed that the vocational church leaders weren’t being supported and had returned to secular employment. I also discovered that the Levites had not been given their prescribed portions of food, so they and the singers…had all returned to work their fields (Nehemiah 13:10 NLT). Even though he helped support himself, Paul cautioned about the same: In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it (I Corinthians 9:14 NLT).
Denominations normally have methods to support short-term and career missionaries as well as church planters, but those funds only funnel down when given through the local churches. While every Christian is a missionary, not every believer is paid for doing it vocationally.
Those who’ve answered the call deserve enough income to live on. When they don’t receive it, the spiritual welfare of those they care for suffers and they themselves lose sight of ministry details because they’re strapped financially. No leader should suffer or be forced to leave because a body of believers isn’t doing its part. Pray for your leaders; but remember prayer doesn’t pay their bills. What can you do to lighten your leader’s load?
Prayer: Thank You Father for those You call to lead us. Challenge us to faithfully support them so they can adequately obey Your call.
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