What The Bible Says About Paying Your Pastor
April 1, 1981
Because I'm not a pastor, the question of a pastor's pay doesn't affect me directly. But as a college teacher, I have an opportunity to talk with students considering seminary, and I hear them ask, "Will I be able to earn enough to support my family?" I also know that some of my former seminary classmates who are now pastors often wonder if they'll ever earn enough to give their wives the freedom to choose not to work.
These facts began to trouble me enough that I decided to try to answer the question, "How much should a pastor be paid?"
People often disagree about this question, largely because they're not sure just what the Bible teaches about it. In fact, the Bible does not give us a simple formula to arrive at the proper amount. But when I examined the two key New Testament passages on this subject, I found they taught a principle of abundant generosity that was far greater than I had imagined.
The first passage is I Timothy 5:17, 18:
"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
"For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.' "
The connection of verses 17 and 18 shows us how highly Paul valued the ministry of the gospel. He says, in effect, "So if even these deserve a fair wage, then how much is deserved by the one who works all the time in the highest and most important calling God gives? Certainly, his work is worth at least twice what other people get!"
Perhaps we would not have used the word "double," but there it stands in Scripture, showing us how highly we ought to regard this important work. When I think how much it means to me to listen to the Word preached ...