January 1, 1986 Issue
Our preachers. "...How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom 10:15)
Should preachers own their own homes? Should they have children? Should they drive a nice car? Should they wear nice clothes? Should they make more than minimum wage? Should they have hobbies? How sad it is that our wonderful preachers have been criticized and abused for these things and many, many more of similar nature.
Preaching is the chosen way of Jehovah God to bring salvation to those that believe (I Cor 1:21). The preacher is the smell of death to those who are perishing and the fragrance of life to those who are saved (2 Cor 2:16, NIV). Their responsibility is more than we will ever face in our daily walks of life. They are included as spiritual leaders in Hebrews 13:17 and they will have to give an account of themselves before Almighty God on the way that they have taught us and kept watch over our souls. The teachers of God's divine word will be judged with greater strictness according to James 3:1.
After considering these basic facts should we not raise our estimation and respect of those that have chosen such a serious vocation for their life's work?
This brings us to the subject of preachers and our financial support of them. Place yourself in this unenviable but often real life situation.
You receive a telephone call from a leader of a congregation several hundred miles away. The congregation feels that it would be a large spiritual benefit to them if you could come and hold a series of gospel meetings. How can you refuse? This particular member did not mention the financial aspects at this time and you dare not either for fear that it would be taken the wrong way. You gather your meager savings, say goodbye to your family and off you go. You really cant afford the luxury of motel accommodations so you drive directly to your destination, arriving practically penniless. You resolve yourself to being totally dependent upon others for the next ten days, eating when they eat and going when they go. By the middle of the week you would love to just be alone for a while, go for a short ride, eat a hamburger and just relax. By the time the last service is held you are really lonesome for your family so you decide to leave immediately after the last service has ended. When the time comes and the chosen member walks up to pay you, he gives you a check for a certain amount. Now where are you going to cash a check in a strange town at eight o'clock p.m. on Sunday night? What do you do now?
You have left your family at home for ten days plus traveling time. You have incurred expenses to arrive at your destination and they will be equaled on the return trip. Your primary goal is to spread the gospel of Christ yet these unnecessary concerns and worries are continuously forced upon you. Little do you know that when the monthly treasury report is posted at that congregation someone will inevitable say, "We paid him that much? I think Ill be a preacher."
If you think this situation is far-fetched, ask some preachers. You will more than likely find that this hypothetical case is a very small example of the inconsiderate actions that are so often faced by our preachers. You may speak to the one that had to pay late charges on his bills each month because he did not receive his support on time. Maybe you will talk to the preacher that had to practically beg for his wages every month. You may, but probably will not, speak to the preacher that moved his family several hundred miles to work full time with a certain congregation. His "full" support proved to be inadequate and his children's school lunch money was a major financial decision. Unable to obtain more support he found himself a secular job. All support was then dropped.
It is embarrassingly sad to have to mention examples such as these but it is absolutely needful in order to impress upon our minds the seriousness of this topic.
Jesus told the Apostles in Mark 16:15 to "...Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." In Luke 10:4 he told them not to carry a purse, scrip, nor shoes. We have been given the scriptural authority to send preachers into the world (Rom 10:15) but we have neither the authority nor the miraculous powers of Christ to ask them to go without proper financial backing.
What can we as individual Christians do to help resolve this problem? First we must talk with our preachers periodically. Even though one may not need help at a particular time he may know of others that do. Next, let us be fully aware that some congregations cannot afford to pay as well as others. Lets help them whenever possible. Finally, make sure that the preachers traveling expenses are paid when applicable. Remember that we can contribute as individuals as well as congregational.
"But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; If the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand." (Ezek 33:6).
Being neither a preacher nor receiving financial support, I write this article solely for the benefit of our preachers.
Publishers Note: This article was sent in by a good brother who neglected to sign his name, an evident oversight. If he will notify us we will let you know next month who he is. DLK
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