A sister in Mid-America writes that she loves her minister and his family but that the man is simply lazy. Wouldn’t it be better, she asks, to divert the considerable sum of money paid in salaries to preachers every year to needy people or other good works?
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Neither Scripture nor common sense encourages people to support someone who will not work, whether that individual stands behind a pulpit or sits quietly in a pew (2 Thes. 3:10-12). Since preachers are normal people, they manifest all the traits of human beings in general, both good and bad. While larger churches of most varieties these days usually support a full-time preacher, the founding father of this questioner’s “Restoration Movement” didn’t think much of the idea at all.
In his first magazine, The Christian Baptist, Alexander Campbell regularly excoriated salaried preachers as “professional clergy” and “hirelings.” Campbell made much of the fact that the New Testament authors considered all Christians to be God’s servants or “ministers” — indeed, “royal priests” of God and Christ (1 Pet. 2:4; 4:11; Rev. 1:6). Campbell also disliked pretentiousness, prissiness and a sense of entitlement — unpleasant qualities which characterized many of his “professional” opponents, and which have not altogether vanished from the church during the 100+ years since Campbell’s death.
But whatever Campbell or anyone else thought, Jesus himself allowed that those who proclaim the gospel should live by the gospel (Matt. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 9:14). Although those texts probably speak of itinerant evangelists, Scripture also teaches in other places that men and women who forego normal livelihoods to devote themselves fully to God’s service should be supported financially by those who benefit from their ministry (Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:9-10, 17; 2 Tim. 2:6). We may be sure that God himself will call to account one day any person who exploits God’s people (Ezek. 34:1-10; John 10:12-13).
Your own preacher probably does much more work than you see. Why not express genuine appreciation to him for his good labor that you do observe, and ask him in a non-challenging way to give you an idea of what his work-week does include. Then pray for him through the week as you think of the tasks which do not readily meet the eye.