Ministry today is often viewed as a profession, a career and an occupation. We have been reminded quite often that “the laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7) and that we should not muzzle the ox when he is working (Deut 25:4). When I preach about the call of God into the ministry, the first thing that most people think of is a paid position and the first question that they have is about financial support. It seems that most people automatically connect ministry with a paying full-time job and I wonder sometimes how much interest there would be if there were no possibility of financial reward.
When Malachi was sent by God to Jerusalem shortly after the temple had been rebuilt, he was appalled by the apathy of the people and especially of the “clergy”. He made the observation that the priest seemed to be motivated by what they could get out of their service rather than by sincere love for God and a desire to build His Kingdom. “Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nothing?” he asks. “Neither do you kindle fire on my altar for nothing. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts; neither will I accept an offering at your hand.” (Mal 1:10)
I have no problem with ministers who make a living from their work in the ministry…I am one of them in fact. But if financial remuneration is the incentive and motivation for ministry, there is a real problem.
I started preaching when I was 14-years-old and ever since then, in many different capacities I have always worked in “the ministry”. Most of the time I have been in ministry it has been totally volunteer and has even cost me dearly. I have had to work secular jobs to support my family. Even as a senior pastor I took no salary and never felt entitled to anything. If there were no money in ministry I would still be doing it today and for the rest of my life. Why? Because I love Jesus and because it is what He has called me to do. I cannot imagine not ministering. Ministry is not my job…it is my life. I AM a minister…it’s not just what I do. I am amazed sometimes to think that today I am able to make a living doing something that I love so much.
Jesus told his disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 4:34). He was saying, this is my reward…this is my remuneration; to do the will of God” And then he gave this exhortation, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.” (John 6:27) As ministers we work not for money or for food, but we work for Jesus. Money will follow ministry and as you seek first the Kingdom of God all these things will be added to you.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Jerusalem, Jesus, Ministry, money, Pastor, preaching, profession, secular
Jacob had a get-rich-quick strategy. He made a deal with Laban, his father-in-law that rather than being paid in cash for his shepherding services he would receive as payment all of the imperfect members of the flock; all the striped, speckled and spotted cattle, sheep and goats. Laban preferred the beautiful ones anyways. He was glad to be rid of the imperfect members of the flock and agreed to Jacob’s pathetic idea of remuneration. But soon Jacob’s motley flock had exceeded Laban’s and the lowly farmhand had grown more rich and powerful than his master.
I visited a church not long ago where the pastor was very proud of the fact that his congregation was made up of some of the wealthiest, most successful and most famous people in town. Everything from the building itself to the demeanor of the staff to the kind of people that were positioned on the platform, shouted that this was a church for the good-looking, the rich and the powerful. Anyone who did not fit into that category might not feel very comfortable there, but for those that were members it was more than a church, it was a sort of elite club for classy Christians. It reminded me of Laban’s perfect flock.
Rich people need Jesus too and I’m glad that they found a place of worship where they could feel comfortable, but somehow I think that if Jesus were pastoring in that city, his church would probably look a lot different. Jesus was known as a “friend of publicans and sinners. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18). And again, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matt 9:12). And again, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). “The Son of man” He said of Himself, “is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
If Jesus pastored a church I think that it would be “on the wrong side of the tracks”. It would be filled with hookers, drug addicts and bums. It would be a church where the unlovely would feel welcomed and accepted. It would be a church for the striped the speckled and spotted members of society.
In fact, Jesus identifies with the needy to such an extent that he takes our actions towards them personally saying, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Mat 25) One of the two elements of “pure religion” according to James is to, “…visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need.” (James 1:27 AMP) The ones that, “…turn many to righteousness [shall give forth light] like the stars forever and ever.”
If any evangelist, pastor or church will follow the example of Jesus and Jacob they will soon make an amazing discovery. A church that is after the lost, the unlovely, the poor, the outcasts and the sinners will soon surpass in every way, the wealth of its country-club counterparts. An evangelist that is willing to leave the well-traveled circuit of itinerate preachers and venture into the dark, dangerous and remote areas of the world will discover rich and abundant harvests where no one would have ever expected to find them.
I am convinced that at the end of the day, the greatest reward will be for the ones who have gotten down in the dirt with Jesus and served “the least of these”. The greatest honor will belong to those who have preached the Gospel to the poor and the first prize will go to the ones who have invested in the striped, the speckled and the spotted.
Posted in Scripture Tagged with: evangelist, Jacob, Jesus, Laban, Pastor, people, repentance, righteousness, society, the Gospel
From Voice of the Martyrs:
Hindus in Madhya Pradesh, India, have accused Pastor Kamlesh Tahed and three other Christians of murdering a young man who was killed in a fight between two locals, according to Compass Direct News.
On Aug. 8, Roop Singh Baria was killed during violence between the Baria and Tahed clans regarding 1,000 rupees (US $20), which had been borrowed by one of the Tahed family members. When members of the Baria clan filed a report with the police about the incident, they implicated Pastor Tahed, Kasna Tahed and two other believers, Ramesh Tahed and Vasna Tahed, in the murder. The four men and other locals insist that the Christians were not present when the murder took place.
Following the incident, Pastor Tahed said, “I once was one of them, but in the 20 years since I became a Christian, they have been dragging me into false cases and hate me for my work of evangelism.” In 2001, Pastor Tahed was jailed for 20 days on false charges of “forcible conversion.” He was released after a costly court battle, which proved his innocence. At last report, he was in hiding and the three other accused believers were in police custody.
God, shine your light of truth and righteousness on this situation.
Posted in News, Persecution Tagged with: Christ, evangelism, Hindus, India, murder, Pastor, police, Ramesh Tahed, righteousness, sin, Singh Baria, violence