In a world of “easy” credit, “interest-free” credit, and “free” overdrafts, it is very tempting for pastors to join the “buy now and pay later” gang. However, the statistics of such lifestyles are frightening. People spend 47% more when using credit cards than when using cash. 88% of “Ninety days interest-free credit” offers are turned into high interest loans. Almost all “free” overdrafts exceed free limits and start accruing interest.As we saw last week, patient contentment is so vital for the pastor. In many cases, a pastor will be paid less than the average salary in the congregation, sometimes very much less. A pastor and his wife can get bitter when they see other families taking vacations, buying new cars, and clothing their kids in the latest fashions. That root of bitterness can spring up and cause a lot of trouble and pain (Heb. 12:15).
- Bitterness about personal shortage compared to others can sometimes spill into their family life, infecting the children with resentment against the church and its officers.
- Sometimes the pastor (or pastor’s wife) can let his bitterness or frustration spill over into more public arenas in personal conversation with members or complaining in church courts and meetings. This rarely works out well, as some people will gladly and speedily portray the pastor as greedy and worldly.
- A pastor may be tempted to leave a congregation purely for financial reasons. Finance may sometimes come into a decision to leave, but it should never be the determining or even major factor.
- Sometimes a man may cultivate special friendships with the richer members of his congregation in order to benefit from their generosity. It is very rarely a wise move for a pastor to become obligated to or dependent upon richer members. It will also be noticed by the less wealthy, especially if it begins to affect your judgment.
- It is increasingly common today for a pastor’s wife to take on work to supplement her husband’s income. In most congregations, there will be few objections to a limited amount of this. However, the danger comes when the wife’s work begins to interfere with the congregational work of her husband. There is a delicate balance to find here. One question to ask: “Is my wife working to help us live or to help us live well?”
See Spiritual Weedkiller for how to kill covetousness and discontent. But let’s also use these further strategies to actively cultivate contentment:
- Remember past ministers and the far less support they had
- Consider present missionaries and the sacrifices they are making
- Get to know the persecuted church and their present sufferings
- Meditate on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).