When considering leaving the pastorate, the first thing to think about is why you are a pastor in the first place. And you need to be brutally honest.
The main pitfalls in pastoral ministry, and some of the main reasons that pastors remain pastors, include three things: money, popularity, and power. I know, we all deny that these hold any sway over us, and yet pastors all around us keep falling for them. Maybe you are immune, but over the next few posts, I want to pose a few diagnostic questions to help you determine where your heart might be at.
If it becomes clear that one or more of these pitfalls do hold sway over you, one of the best ways to defeat them is to resign as pastor. But we’ll get to that.
In this post, we want to look at the issue of Pastoral Pay.
Very few pastors who would say they are in pastoral ministry for the money.
How could they be, since most pastors don’t get paid all that well?
However, a pastor should always ask himself, “If I was not getting paid to do this, would I still do it?” Søren Kierkegaard proposes the following experiment:
Let us make the thought-experiment—if somebody were able to prove conclusively that Christ never existed at all, nor the Apostles either, that the whole thing was a fabrication—I should like to see how many priests would lay down their office.
The sad fact is that while many pastors are not in it for the money, they would not be in pastoral ministry at all if they were not getting paid. We think that getting paid is being practical, and that a worker is worthy of his wages, but the secret truth is that if it weren’t for the money, few pastors would actually be pastors.
We will look at the Scriptural support (or lack thereof) for pastoral pay later in this chapter where we will see that there is little-to-no evidence for a pastoral salary. This doesn’t mean that it is wrong to pay a pastor, only that we cannot use Scripture to support the practice.
So ask yourself: if it weren’t for the money (small though it may be), would you still be a pastor? If the answer is “No,” it might be time to consider leaving the pastorate. I will write some later about how you can do this.
Let me conclude this post with one caveat. Though I believe that in general, pastors should not receive a full time salary from the church, no church that has a salaried pastor should ever ask him to stop taking a salary. Unless there are budgetary reasons for asking a pastor to step down, the decision to not take a salary should be fully in the hands of the pastor himself. If a pastor does feel compelled to free himself from the church salary, there are steps he can take to move in that direction, and it is too painful and too difficult to do overnight, especially when forced upon you from the outside.