08 October 2009

(2)COR leadership4

4. Ministers of Christ should never accept money for their ministry whenever it might call the integrity of their message into question.

(2 Corinthians 11:5-11)

A recent study indicated that less than 5% of American pastors earn more than $50,000 per year and about 14% of the same group earned less than $25,000 per year. One could also decipher a trend within American seminaries in which graduates who have spent this effort to prepare for the ministry believe that they are most likely going to earn large salaries as part of their ministerial employment.

While this is not quite the specific issue that Paul addresses here, it does provide an interesting connection to the text. If for nothing else, it does provide some eyebrow-raising insight into the amount of ministers who begin their work with financial priority as such a high factor in their expectations.

Surprisingly - perhaps to both ancient Corinth and modern evangelicalism - Paul sets forward a fourth principle by asserting that ministers should disconnect themselves from the finances of the church whenever it is an obstacle for kingdom work. Unfortunately, this has often fallen on deaf ears. Our culture has been plagued by pastors and church leaders who have never met a dollar bill they did not like, and take as much as they can get - even at the expense of their own ministries and churches. In fact, many ministers can rightly be accused of too quickly abandoning difficult circumstances in light of the elusive 'greener grass' on the other side, perhaps defined by their financial perspectives and priorities.

Of course, it is the love of money which is the root of all kinds of evil, so we should guard ourselves and our ministries from its destructive forms. Notice that Paul does not say that money cannot play a role in ministry; he himself accepted gifts from various churches, so long as there were no strings attached. But his concern was always for the message of the gospel first, and then for himself.

This standard of evaluation needs to be renewed and strengthened among our churches and leaders.

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