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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

16 June 2006

Supporting Your Pastor

Q: Can you give Bible verses to our church on taking care of our pastor’s physical and financial needs? He doesn’t have a job other than being a full time pastor — there when we need him, teaching and preaching very well, faithful to the church and the Lord.

Pastor SnyderA: The Small Catechism includes a “Table of Duties,” — a series of Bible references gathered by Martin Luther on various subjects touching on the Christian life. I’ll list the verses he cites on pastoral and congregational responsibilities and offer a few comments.

In the section called, “To Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers,” Luther used the following verses:

Pastor Cholak“An overseer [bishop] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive. (1 Timothy 3:2-4)” Just because your pastor is not to be a “lover of money,” there is no reason to deprive or short-change his income and ability to support and protect his family.

Pastor Petersen“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:6)” This doesn’t only protect the pastor from “condemnation.” It also serves to keep out of the ministry to the congregation one who hasn’t grasped the fullness of God’s Word and matured in doctrine and practice.

Pastor Eckardt“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9)” The second part of this may trouble us since receiving God’s reproach — in any form, including through His pastors — often is difficult for us to accept. Truly, it may be hard even to “settle” for the “sound doctrine” when churches elsewhere are caught up in felt needs, emotionalism, and doctrinal laxity. The “fun” some other churches may be having makes a solid and faithful pastor (and the Word he preaches) seem dull and boring by comparison.

Pastor FremerLuther followed this section with “What the Hearers Owe Their Pastors.” Here we see the view from the pew instead of the pulpit:

“In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the Gospel should get their living by the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14)” Unless there are special circumstances, this makes it clear that God intends congregations to fully support their pastors in all financial areas. And lest one think that Paul is trying to “line his own pockets,” remember that he regularly refused such support for himself so no one would think that he was making converts in order to enrich himself. However, it’s clear from his writing that neither the apostle nor the Holy Spirit intended the practice to be normative for all pastors everywhere.

Pastor Kozak“One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:6-7)”

“Let the elders [pastors] who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’ (1 Timothy 5:17-18)” I thank God that it’s a rare time when the proclamation of the Gospel is drudgery , such as threshing wheat or performing “slave labor.” Still, if one feeds his ox or pays his employees, how much more do we offer the one who feeds us God’s Word, the Bread of Life, who pours the Living Water, and who regularly offers us the body and blood of Christ Jesus in the Lord’s Supper?

Pastor BeiselIn all of these passages dealing with financial support of the Gospel ministry, we don’t see so much the idea of a “salary,” where one is paid to perform certain tasks commanded or requested by a congregation or its members. Instead, a faithful congregation looks to “compensate” its pastors so they do not need to seek outside employment which would take away from their time spend preaching, teaching, praying, and studying God’s Word (cf. Acts 6:1-4).

Pastor Chryst“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)”

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)” This reminds us of the awesome responsibilities that sit upon our pastors’ shoulders.

Pastor CodyFaithful pastoral leadership is not domination, but lovingly speaking the correct word of God at the proper time, confronting, forgiving, and forgetting sins, and doing everything possible to shepherd each dear lamb from this earth to the heavenly pastures. These last two passages don’t deal specifically with finances, although adequate compensation should be part of the “esteem” and “love” shown as we “submit to them.”

The fullness of these verses is plain: When a pastor preaches and teaches according to God’s will, his congregation is commanded to “obey” him in matters spiritual. These passages don’t demand blind following of tyrants, but open-eyed, rejoicing respect and deference to those who preach the Word in its truth and purity and who faithfully administer the Sacraments.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Blogger The Terrible Swede said...

Though your current pic is nice, sir, I like the one where you are holding the two children.

18 June, 2006 14:06  
Blogger Xrysostom said...

I’m fond of that one, too. However, the current photo is truer to how I look now: The hairline’s about the same as it was 8 or 9 years ago, but the color has changed a bit more.

Believe it or not, when I was installed in 1992, at the ripe old age of 35, I had nary a grey hair. They started coming in soon after I assumed the Preaching Office. Coincidence?

18 June, 2006 19:08  
Anonymous Rev Lee C. Wenskay said...

Who are the other pastors in this column? I recognize David Petersen and Burnell Eckart, but not the others. Just curious.

24 June, 2006 07:32  
Blogger Xrysostom said...

I pilfered pix from pastoral blogs I regularly read (or write). From the top, the crew (with links to their blogs) consists of yours truly (also a member of Luther Library), Steven Cholak, David Petersen, Burnell Eckardt, Joe Fremer, Jack Kozak, Paul Beisel, Tom Chryst (also host of the Lutheran Blog Directory), and Richard Cody.

24 June, 2006 16:12  
Blogger Preachrboy said...

Looks like CN reprinted this with the photos too.

Was wondering when/if I'd ever make it in!

hee hee.

26 June, 2006 12:14  
Blogger Xrysostom said...

Looks like CN reprinted this with the photos too.

I don't subscribe, so if anyone reads this and wants to send me a copy, feel freen.

29 June, 2006 21:24  

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