Am I Materialistic? Part II - Churches and Ministries
There were comments from my Part I writing on materialism that made me feel Part 1 was incomplete. What about the Pastor or the ministry leader who drives the expensive cars or lives in the big houses? I find that this really rubs people the wrong way. There is almost this expectation for ministry leaders and Pastors to live as modest of a life as possible. Well what the Bible says about about poverty, being rich, abundance, etc. in my opinion is completely blown out of context. However, that is a writing for another time.
Once again, back to my point in Part I, what you do with His money is between the individual and God. It is not our place to judge. Of course, it is never our place to judge. It is about whether we pass the two part litmus test. Part 1, are we attached? Could we give everything up tomorrow? Part 2, does materialism interfere with the ability and freedom to serve or give?
I would add a third litmus test specifically for those who are in ministry. First, it is my belief that compensation or salary of someone in ministry fits into the above litmus test. Second, beyond that, how ministry contributions are used is a totally different subject. Here is the question for the test - Are gifts, donations, contributions, etc. used for personal gain within the ministry or church? For example, is the 20 million dollar plane really necessary to travel for the ministry? Is the church funded personal trainer expense for the Pastor really good use of ministry money?
As a contributor to a ministry or church, you have to decide whether or not the church or ministry are being good stewards of what God has allowed them to have. You have to make sure you hold them accountable and that they are totally transparent in every dollar spent.. Is every dollar going towards the fulfillment of the ministry or church objective? That is an accountability that is important and must be upheld.
There is a distinction between what gifts and donations are being used for and what ministry leaders are doing with them beyond compensation. What about a Pastor or ministry leader making money on books sales, speaking appearances, TV deals, etc.? I think that goes back to the original personal litmus test. After all, that is beyond the original ministry and money that was made independently. One caveat, those two aspects of a ministers life must be kept separate. For instance, is it good use of donated money to pay the expenses of a pastor for a trip where he or she stands to gain independent money separate from the ministry? I say no. However, I am sure some will debate that point.
It is easy to get judgmental of our Pastors and Ministry leaders when it comes to material possessions. Remember judgment hurts the person passing judgment more than anyone else. It is something I constantly have to remind myself of every single day in all aspects of life.