material blessings

Career Preacher?

A pastor friend statused recently a quote I've heard before: "God's will done in God's way will not lack God's support."

This quote along with others like "Where God guides, He provides" can be misleading.

In some ways I believe this is true, but not in the American way we tend to view God's provision. Yes, God is our Provider and he richly supplies us with everything we need (which includes more than money), but sometimes this looks different for different people.

For instance, consider that only a select few Pastors and preachers around the world this very day make a good amount of money, or even enough to pay their bills.  The majority of preachers in the world know lack, trouble and anything but ease. Only a select few Pastors are lucky (or blessed?) enough to work at "Disneyland" churches and make a comfortable living for themselves. And let's all remember that even those select Pastors paid the price early on in their ministries.  I even know Pastors at some of the larger churches in the country who still need to apply for below poverty level health coverage. No joke. Bottom line: ministry is not where most people today make good money.

So what are we left with? Only Pastors with a rare level of "faith" are provided for by God? 

When I look at people like the Apostle Paul in Scripture, I think we get a different picture. No one would doubt that Paul was one of the greatest Apostles of faith to ever grace the face of the earth. And let me remind us all that he wrote half the books in the New Testament, which is supposed to be (ahem) our Guide Book for life and faith!

Paul seems to have the view that sometimes God provides through our own two hands. In his second letter to the Thessalonians he exhorts the believers of the Church in Thessalonica to not sit around and wait for the Second Coming of Christ and depend on others to eat.  He says the age old adage, "If you don't work, you don't eat." Paul even goes so far as to state that they themselves (as Ministers of the Gospel) had worked to pay their way!

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow. Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business.  We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.  As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good." (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, NLT).

This passage was not meant to state that we shouldn't provide for our ministers.  Paul declares the exact opposite elsewhere. (see 1 Corinthians 9:7-11, 14, Galatians 6:6, etc etc) So then, this blog is not meant to discourage anyone from asking for support for their ministry - by no means! Nor is this blog meant to discourage any believer from giving to the work of the Lord. We need more preachers, not less! We need more missions support, not less! This blog is simply meant to give a Biblical basis of encouragement for those who haven't yet seen the support they desire - keep going.

Paul was known in the Scriptures to be a "tent maker." Periodically, in the middle of his ministry work, he would make tents (literally) to pay his bills.

This is why I have said "the dream doesn't always pay the bills." Many people quit on what they feel God calling them to do, because they don't see provision materializing.  I say, keep going.  Find a way. Make it work. God is with you. If we quit when it's hard, how small and shallow is our faith.

Read and re-read 2 Corinthians 11 preacher! Paul brags about his pain, to our shame. Paul says in verse 27, "I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm." 

The Apostle of our faith! The man God used to write 1/2 the books in the New Testament! Now either Paul was from Minnesota (because you can never have enough clothes to keep you warm enough here!) or Paul knew that the dream didn't always pay the bills and he had the frostbite to prove it! I'm so glad he didn't give up.