The Materially Wise Pastor
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach . . . not a lover of money.
– 1 Timothy 3:2-3
For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be . . . greedy for gain, but hospitable.
– Titus 1:7-8
Many a pastor worries about the giving levels of his church. Let him first begin with the giving levels of his own resources. A pastor need not publicize how much he gives, especially since this is difficult to do without it becoming sinful boasting, but he should nevertheless trust that his leadership in giving is setting an example.
One biblically acceptable way a pastor may go public with his giving is in his giving of his material resources, namely the use of his home and possessions. Pastors should be hospitable. This will include the opening of his home to guests for meals and for stays but extend to the generous giving and lending out of his books, supplies, equipment, appliances, clothing, and whatever else he has that somebody else might need or use.
Generosity and wise stewardship are directly connected to holiness. A man who is becoming Christlike is grasping more and more the utter fulfillment and satisfaction there is to be had in Christ. He is being filled more and more with the incomparable riches of Christ. Therefore, the stuff that stuff affords loses its luster. Money becomes a tool. Money is a tool. It’s a tool like rope. With money, you can pull a man out of the ditch or you can hang yourself. A holy man knows money is temporary, that it cannot buy everlasting life, so he is dismissive of its claims to deity and yet wary of its pull. A romantic involvement with money opens the door to all manner of evil.
But, brothers, this is not the same thing as being cheap. The father of the prodigal son was not cheap. The giver of the great banquet was not cheap. A cheap man is just as much an idolater of money as the wasteful man.
A holy man is a good spender. He holds money loosely precisely because his heart has been satisfied with the love of Christ, so he is free to buy his wife a nice dinner and his children a fun game, so long as he is motivated not by dinners and games but by love. This is the same love that helps a man spend on missionaries and the poor and the widow and the orphan. So long as our hope is not in the things of this world, we are free to use the things of this world to the glory of God. This is part of stewardship too and comes with the wisdom holiness affords.
[S]hepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain . . .
– 1 Peter 5:2
(This is a slightly edited version of material appearing in The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry coming from Crossway in July 2013.)