My Open Wrestling with God, Money, and Ministry

What is the proper relationship between God, Money, Ministry, and Ministers? (image courtesy of pixabay.com)

What is the proper relationship between God, Money, Ministry, and Ministers? (image courtesy of pixabay.com)

I want to share with you my open wrestling with God about the idea of money and ministry, and the definition of “work” and proper wages, in general. I have been reading Dan Miller’s book “No More Dreaded Mondays” and it has really opened my eyes to the idea of wealth and alternative means of work. I believe that God wants me in ministry somewhere; this is unavoidable for me. Ministry, specifically, preaching and teaching, along with encouraging people in Christ, burns in my blood. I am energized by teaching the Bible to others and pointing others to the truths of God. With that being said, Dan has opened up my mind some about money and pursuing a “side hustle.” Dan reminds us that No Job in today’s world, including ministry, is secure. We are wise, according to Miller, to pursue other options financially and to create several “streams” of income.  As I’ve been reading Miller’s book, as well as listening to his podcast, and the podcasts of Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins (all of which are professing Christians and are making substantial profit in their respective businesses, as best as I can tell), I have really been struggling with this idea of God and wealth. I want to share you my many questions about this matter below which comes straight from my journal, mostly as it is.  I want you to know that I am open to anyone who has answers to these questions and I am open to anyone who has good resources of any sort that can assist me in this matter. None of this is set in stone, just simply me “pondering out loud.”  In my ponderings below I have not supplied too many specific Scripture references to expedite the blogging process for this post.  I ask you to please read All of this post before you make any judgments as there is a progression of thought and questions. Welcome to my “mind map” below!

  1. Is it the lot in life for ministers to struggle financially? Many ministers that I know personally struggle financially in some manner, and it’s a tremendous stress on their families, and ultimately harmful to their churches as a result, but should this be so? (see number 11 below with stats from Thom Rainer on this). This is one of the central questions I have.
    • Could the churches that these ministers serve be healthier, spiritually, if the minister was not struggling so much financially? In other words, can you make a case that struggling financially keeps him from focusing primarily on his ministry tasks at the church and, therefore, results in harming the church?
  2. Couldn’t I do more ministry (or help more ministries) with more money?
    • I want to paraphrase Michael Hyatt’s idea: I am morally responsible for making as much money as I can so that I can help as many people as I can
      • What do you think of that comment above? Are we “morally responsible” for making “as much money as we can” so that we can “help as many people as we can”? Imagine how many schools could be built in third-world countries, how many children could be sponsored, and how many people could be helped if money were in the hands of Godly people?
  3. Is God displeased with ministers who have “side hustles” to make some extra money?
    • Dan Miller says that if you can devote simply 10-15 hours per week on some type of side business (or “side hustle,” as some call it), then you can begin to build it to bring in some income. This comes to around 2 hours per night that I could potentially work on this. But what could I do?  I don’t have a clue since I have no business training or direct business experience.
    • Doesn’t God call a minister to “devote himself fully to Him,” thus negating the secular job or “side hustle”?
      • But what about Paul, who was a tentmaker, Peter, who was a fisherman, and even Jesus Himself, who was a carpenter? Didn’t they make money from their respective professions? How did the disciples clothe and feed themselves while they were all walking with Jesus for the 3 years of His public ministry? Somebody, somewhere, was Making Money! Obviously, God is not opposed to work since Jesus worked Himself!
        • Paul was not against work: “10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
      • How do I reconcile “storing up treasures in heaven” (and the contrast of earthly treasures) with pursuing wealth?
      • Do we get the sense from Scripture that we are only supposed to (or primarily?) pursue “spiritual things” in the Bible (as ministers??) and ignore “worldly” pursuits, such as money?
  4. Where would bivocational ministry fit into these categories?
  5. Financial Security and Financial Limits Questions
    • Is God displeased with my pursuit of financial security?
    • Is God opposed to me making money?
      • Or,  is God opposed to me making a certain amount of money?
      • Is there a certain annual income that would be “sinful to make?
        • Personally, I fail to see where those that make $100,000, $500,000 or $1 million are sinful simply by the amount they make.
          • Isn’t it your motive in making the wealth and then what you do with the wealth that is sinful?
  6. Where does the Bible speak Positively of wealth?
    • In the Old Testament wealth was seen as a blessing of God. Think of Solomon, Abraham, Job, and others.
  7. We can Definitely see in the Bible where Work and Labor are viewed positively in the Bible and sloth is viewed as a sin.
    • We can see where the Bible uses poverty to motivate those that are lazy to move into action. Think of the book of Proverbs telling us to look at the ant and to not “fold our hands” in a little sleep since “poverty” will come on us like a bandit!
  8. Where in the Bible does it exalt financial poverty as a virtue?
    • Certainly, some Catholic nuns and monks take a “vow of poverty,” but where is this seen as “spiritual” in the Bible?
  9. I often quote one of the Puritans often that has said this: Prosperity is the nurse of atheism.
    • He is obviously saying that wealth can lead to spiritual complacency, but must this ALWAYS be the case?
    • Is prosperity the problem, or is it that our hearts, full of envy and covetousness, are the actual problem?
    • Is there a way to obtain “prosperity” and it NOT lead to sin?
  10. Preachers are in it “For the Money”
    • When someone says that preachers are “in it for the money,” what, exactly, do they mean? I know a lot of ministers, and I don’t know any of them that are “in it for the money” (again, whatever that means).
    • Additionally, if preachers are “in it for the money,” then my question is, “Where exactly IS the money in ministry?”  Unless you are a TV preacher asking people to send you $1000 in exchange for the $1 handkerchief they bought from the dollar store, then sure, you might be in it for the money. I fail, however, to see how this applies to your typical, ordinary pastor working year-in, and year-out, in the local church context.
    • If ministers are “in it for the money,” then wouldn’t they would be in business, and not in ministry?
    • Why is it that some people that may complain about ministers making money are also ones that go to work and make money themselves?
    • Why is it “Greedfor the preacher to want to make more money, but it’s simplyhealthy ambition and hard workwhen anyone else wants to make more money?
  11. Ministers and Financial Struggle from Thom Rainer (President of Lifeway) in his ebook “The Minister’s Salary”:
    • 80% of ministers surveyed felt “financial burdens”
    • There’s a difference between “salary” and “package.” Most likely the pastor does not make “$65,000” but, after retirement, conference/books, insurance, auto reimbursement, he dips down to around $40,000ish. Just good to keep in mind when looking at your own pastor’s money.
    • 100% of pastors surveyed said they needed a raise, but had not broached the subject with their boards.
    • Thom Rainer was in a church in Florida where the attendance tripled, but he never got a raise and had to leave the church to better support his wife and 3 young kids. Ministers feel ashamed to ask for a raise, as Rainer did.
    • Rainer had to often check food out of the church’s food pantry because he did not have enough to feed his family.
    • Why are some churches often stingy to the man of God that gives so much of his time and effort to the families of those churches?
    • If a minister gets a BA, Masters, and a Doctorate, that comes to around 12 years of school. A medical doctor, by comparison, is finished with his schooling in 8-9 years. By the number, a minister has more education that a medical doctor in this situation, but gets paid much, much less.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? -I’d Love to hear your comments below in the “Leave a Reply” section

  1. Which points have I mentioned above that you might have an answer to or that you would like to comment on?

Check Out the Answers in Genesis Bookstore!

Christian Books and Bibles

Grammarly is wonderful!

If you find this blog encouraging or helpful, please subscribe in the top, right-hand corner of the site (if on a laptop) or at the bottom of the screen (if on a mobile device). Thank you!

 

10 thoughts on “My Open Wrestling with God, Money, and Ministry

  • Yeah, I’ve got a theory on this too. We are expected to get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, get up, go to work, come home, go to bed….and so on. It’s insanity. Yeah, it’s the “American” way….but that doesn’t mean that God loves it. One thing I do believe is that God doesn’t like repetitive acts…Things that we just get comfortable doing. It turns into tradition real fast. So….what could I do besides checking you out at the register at Walmart, or receiving your money so you can pump gas? I’m very jaded over this, the American workforce… It’s not necessarily the right thing or even what God wants. You know…. I wonder if America is just lost in this idea of “we are free”. We are not free because we are Americans. This is not what freedom is. It’s a twisted definition. So… I believe that Christ’s work is the only good work. I must work for Christ whether it pays money or not. It pays off I promise. And when I work for Christ I’m not wasting my time. I try not to have a “golden calf” of any kind in my life. People say…well it depends on how you use things that decides if those things are idols to you or not. Jibberish! A golden calf is a golden calf. The story in the Bible does not say that everyone who used the golden calf for good was blessed, no, it said they were all cursed for even having it made and keeping it around. I’m lying to myself about this anymore.

    • Nicki,

      I appreciate your response! I believe that your point about “I must work for Christ whether it pays money or not” is a good and fair point. Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we must do it all for the glory of God, whether that is working in a career that pays a lot or a little. But if we are in a profession that simply doesn’t pay the bills, then I don’t see how that is glorifying to God since we are called to provide for our family. My question is: Does God call us to seek as little money as possible? Certainly we are to be “content” (Philippians 4:10-13), but are we to remain where we are and not strive for better? Does striving for “better” in this life necessarily go against biblical principles? I am still pondering on all this. Thanks!

      • It’s a big question…. what we think is better, is that what God says is better? If money is the origin of the question then no, it’s not better. But if Christ is the origin of that question then yes, go for better.

      • Don’t seek money at all. That’s what I think. Even when you think you are providing for your family really it’s God. If God sees fit, money will be involved, don’t you worry about that.

        • It’s true that God provides, but He always uses means to provide for us, & primarily that mean by which He provides is through work we must find. We must seek as He provides. We are active while He is active as well. But, also, it’s not good to pour ourselves into this world, as you said, because we are here only for a short time.

          • A lot of people who complain about pastors making money are thinking of people like Creflo Dollar who flourish materially while their congregants flounder. Because of this negative perception, many honest pastors live on whatever a church board (the members of which have secular jobs) decides is appropriate. The pastors don’t want be thought of as greedy or selfish so they don’t speak up.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: