9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
It seems Paul missed the memo about prosperity in the Gospel as did the rest of the Apostles. `Their lives were much like Paul’s as in the end they were executed or in John’s case exiled. If there is a New Apostolic Reformation, I would expect the modern apostles to be treated the same as the originals and suffer similar lifestyles. I am suspicious of a pastor or church leader who is living a lavish lifestyle when even Jesus had no certain dwelling place like the Apostles instead of multi-million dollar homes.
If pastors are to be examples to the world and to our people, why are they promoting the same values of the world? I am not saying they need to live in caves or shacks, but a modest home is all they need. They can fly with normal people using it as an opportunity to witness to a few people as well as to crowds. All cars will get you from A to B so you do not need the most expensive ones. Offices can be functional rather than lavish. The list can go on, but you get my point. From the time I was saved, I have heard that preachers are only in it for the money and these lad/lassies validate that statement and turn people away from the Lord. I watch very few TV preachers because of this and doctrinal issues.
The rule of thumb I was taught is that the pastor should not be the richest man in the church nor the poorest. He should have the median income of the church. I realize that means a pastor could have a million dollar paycheck by that rule, but what he does with it is what counts. He should live simply as an example to His flock not follow the trends and fads of that flock.
Many are concerned about our economic future and one advantage of living simply is that you have less to lose. You also might not even notice the downturn. The Amish probably feel very little pain during downturns or inflation since they are basically self-supporting and not bothered by lacking much of our modern conveniences that suck up all our money. Besides, they are debt free as well. A simpler life would help most of us and a pastor should lead the way to such a life.
I have no respect for a man/woman wearing Armanis, Rolexes and living in mansions asking people to send them money for some project the Lord has called them do, when they could have paid for it themselves if they had a $100 suit, a Timex, a Chevy and lived n a a 2500 sq foot or less house. You can point to Solomon, but then he was a king of a nation, not the under-shepherd of a flock. He also had a thousand women to support as well as a non-specified number of children. No church leader has that going on today or at least as far as we know. You can say we are representing a King so we need to show wealth. Hmm, well the King of Kings came in a manager and lived as the son of a carpenter. If that worked for God and His Son, then simplicity should work well with us.
None of us spend our money in a totally wise or sacrificial manner. Wasting a little or a lot is still waste. Yet, when men/women in the public spotlight do it more people are harmed than if you spend too much at Starbucks in a month. No one turns away from God or finds reasons to castigate the church because of your addiction.
I am far from perfect, but because of that common accusation, I have done all I could to show that was not completely and have served without pay or little pay. Once I told a church I would come pastor for $10K less than they offered because it was more than I needed and they never spoke to me again. I left a $65K job for a $20K pastorate + parsonage only to go back to work to keep the doors from closing and took no pay. I have asked God to make me self-supporting and He has done that. I once had to ask for a title because I could not do jail ministry without it. I was told that they wanted to give me a title, but could not afford to pay me. I said, what would change if you gave me a title since I am doing the work without pay now? I tell you this to show I am practicing what I preach, not to exalt myself. Hopefully, it will encourage others to follow suit or be encouraged if they are in similar conditions.
I could pastor a church or serve as a staff member of some sort for free now, even though a workman is worthy of his hire. Not everyone can do that, but those that could should. We need to send a new message to the world and the Church. They are tired of rich church leaders. Many who have sent them money with the promise they will be given much more from God because of their seed money have experienced crop failure and are bitter. Explain prosperity preaching and rich preachers to myriads of people in Africa, Asia and other places where Christians are constantly on the move to keep from being imprisoned, enslaved or killed. If it doesn’t preach worldwide, it isn’t biblical.
Spend your money well. Make sure your tithes and offerings are spent well. If you are going to send money to someone send it where they are digging wells for people to have clean water or to places where you get more bang for your buck. Don’t waste it giving some lad/lassie the lifestyle of a king. Give it to a lowly shepherd who is keeping it simple in their life so they can give their lives for the Gospel. If your pastor is struggling to make it, then you need to help him, not Reverend Rolex or Minister Mansion. Remember, those mansions and Rolexes are going to burn so give that souls won’t burn. Maranatha!