While surfing the internet, I stumbled upon a blog about the unfair way preachers are compensated for their labor and even expected to work for free. Frankly, I agreed with the preacher who wrote the article. Ministers should be paid a fair wage and all labor should be fairly compensated, but I also question why preachers build their churches on the backs of volunteer labor.
God condemned using a person’s labor without pay. “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his countrymen work for nothing, not paying them for their labor” (Jeremiah. 22:13, NIV). Jesus set an example of richly rewarding the very least contribution to ministry. When he borrowed a loaf and two fish, he returned twelve baskets of loaves and fish. When he borrowed a boat to teach from, he filled it with fish at the end of his sermon. Paul affirmed the right of being paid for one’s labor by quoting from the law: “do not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn” and those who sow spiritual things have a God given right to material things in compensation (1 Corinthians 9:9).
In every church I have attended, Sunday School teachers sowed spiritual things just like the Pastor yet the teachers were not compensated. The churches I have attended pay the pastor, his secretary, and the heads of departments. Everyone else is expected to give sacrificially and work for free. Therefore, if at some point preachers are expected to work for free, they just might be eating the fruit of their own way.
I was the first to leave a comment on the blog suggesting that preachers create the problem of unfair compensation when they use their congregation’s labor without compensation. Thirty comments followed mine. One person thought it was ridiculous that Sunday School teachers should be paid for their labor. Pastors have degrees, they work hard, they have to deal with petty grievances from their congregation, and spend more time preparing their lessons than the teachers. How did this pastor know how all Sunday School teachers only have a high school education, are lazy, never have to deal with a petty grievance from a student and spend less time preparing their lesson than he did? Was he omniscient like God? I definitely got the drift that pastors were more valuable than the people who sit on the pew. Another pastor understood and said it better than I did. He wrote, “We devalue the work we do when we devalue the work of others.” Yes, that is my point.
There was a general consensus that I was ignorant of the kind of sacrifices preachers make to fulfill their calling. I found that assumption interesting since none of them knew me. My husband and I have worked in ministry on both the local and state level. In thirty years of service only one church compensated him for his labor.
I also found their discussion about me similar to assumptions made about me on a pagan blog. Someone shared on Witchvox an article I wrote for a newspaper blog about the pagans’ Ostara picnic. Within two days, thousands of witches read the article. Some of the pagans assumed that I could not enter the freedom of their ceremony because I was in religious bondage to the Christian God. They also concluded that my parents had forced me into Christianity. Most of them felt sadness for the way I was abused.
The pagans saw me through the eyes of their own experiences. The decision to be a Christian was mine. My father forbid me to attend church and wished I would return to drug addiction which he understood. I did not participate in the pagan’s ceremony because I have no reason to worship their goddess. When I was in distress and cried out in misery, their goddess did not come. The God of the Bible heard my cry, delivered me from drug addiction, and gave me a life worth living.
I don’t see much difference between the pastors who decided I didn’t know anything about the life of a minister, and the pagans who assumed I had been forced into Christianity. Both the Christians and the Pagans made assumptions about me to justify the wrong they do.