Why You Should Pay Your Pastor Well
By: Deji Yesufu
Recently I made an appeal for help for a minister friend of mine from Eastern Nigeria. Somebody used the occasion to vilify me; saying that since I have been known in the past for criticizing wealthy pastor, why should anyone offer me any help now. He said that he is happy I am seeing that pastors also need money. Thankfully I did not have to respond to him because someone else had done so. I realize now that it would take time for people to understand my position on religion; hopefully my articles in this column will continue to shed light on matters relating to my views on the Christian faith.
I wish to make it clear that whether I am appealing for help in ministry or I am advocating good remuneration for pastors, as this piece would soon outline, I still remain a strong antagonist of a kind of Christian ministry that has pervaded much of Nigeria. I maintain that Christian ministers cannot be millionaires. The phrase “millionaire pastor” is an oxymoron and all who today can be described in this manner are thieves and robbers. If you have eternity to pursue, I would beg you not to put your spiritual life nor those of your household under the cover of such a pastor. You will be raped; you will be defrauded; and you would be lucky to come out of such organizations alive. Such organizations that such men oversee are not Christian; they are den of thieves. Having made this point clear, I will nonetheless proceed to make an advocacy for good remuneration for pastors.
Before we can even talk of the pastor’s pay, we want to talk of the church’s finances. A church should have two kinds of leadership: a spiritual leadership and a managerial leadership. I suspect that the ministry of deacons in the Bible in the first century churches was its managerial leadership. Today, however, people choose to rather have a church board that has a member of the church as its chairman. The spiritual leadership on the other hand consist of the pastor leading other ministers to oversee the spiritual life of the church. The managerial leadership is the ministry of deacons or those of the chairman leading other members of the church. A situation where the pastor is also the overall chairman of the church is not ideal. Churches must mature to a point where members of the church can handle the administration of the church.
It is the administrative arm of the church that regulates the church’s finances. They are the ones that should be signatory to the church’s account and they are the ones that should pay the pastor his salary. This administrative arm of the church are the ones that should be able to regulate the church’s finances. Churches should not run mainly on member’s giving. The reason is because most of the time, members are developing spiritually to the point of understanding that their giving should be part of church life. And no one has the right to breath down the neck of another, demanding for monies in form of tithes and offering. People should be freely motivated to give. And the best way to get people to give is for the leadership, both spiritual and managerial, to lead by example. So the biggest donors to church finances should be the leaders. Then the leaders must be able to find other Christian organizations that believe in the missions to support what they do. It is only after this is done that people can be enjoined to give.
If by God’s grace a church is able to overcome the laborious process of setting a financially viable chest, the next step they must take will be to agree on a proper remuneration for the pastor.
First, we must realize that it is to the congregation’s advantage that a pastor works full time in ministering to them. Where this is not possible, it should not be enforced. But a congregation that has a part-time pastor will suffer for it because his attention will be divided between his service to the church and whatever other business he does.
With a full time minister, the next thing the congregation wants to do is to agree on a “living wage” for that pastor. A pastor working full time will be giving himself to the study of the word of God to deliver both on Sunday and other service days, he would also be giving himself to prayer (Acts 6:4). Both of these ministries (word and prayers) are very important for a spiritually viable church. Besides this, there is the job of counseling church members, attending to ceremonies involving church people, witnessing to unbelievers in the society and setting out plans to help grow Christian witness in the community. Any congregation sustaining a pastor in full time ministry is adding to the spiritual vitality of their community and even to those of their unborn children.
The minimum wage for any pastor in Nigeria of today should be N150, 000 a month. Any congregation that cannot pay their pastor that amount has no business setting up a local church. They would do well to either close down or join forces with other congregations, so as to have at least one pastor in full time service; instead of, say, two. Pastors being paid as much as half a million in Nigeria is also not too much either, if the congregation can afford it. The important thing is that the man of God is delivering on what he is being paid to do. Maybe the reason church people are not too concerned with what their pastors are delivering to them is because many of them are not contributing to the finances of the church from which the pastor is paid. If they are doing this, all hands will be on deck to see that the pastor himself meets the high standard of ministry that is required of him.
Another reason why pastors should be well paid is because churches should be concerned with getting the best minds to Christian ministry. Gone are the days when those who go to seminary are those who could not enter university or could not get a job elsewhere. The ministry should be for the best minds. If the pay is good, the best minds would be attracted to it. Yes, the matter of sacrifice cannot be removed from a man’s calling. But the man who is called to ministry is already sacrificing on many fronts. If his remuneration is ok, sacrifice on other fronts would be a lot easier and lighter.
One of the things we should understand is that what we have as far as church gatherings in Nigeria is concerned is not the norm. We have way too many churches but because many of these churches are not even doing what they are called to do, the number of churches in this country, serving people in a biblical manner, is a lot lower. I am looking at a biblical church here and because there numbers are few, people who find them should be able to commit resources to them to make them thrive. We must be concerned about building ministries and churches that would last the time of evil in our days because the days will come when it might be impossible for our children to find living churches to go to. If we however make the sacrifice today to build good churches, through sacrificial giving, we can be sure there would be churches for our grandchildren to be discipled in when we are long gone from the scene.
NB: In the light of this article, I refer you to my patron page www.patreon.com/DejiYesufu if you like what I write and desire support my writing financially.
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