It is fairly rare in the Christian world to read anything on caring for your pastor. Undoubtedly this is in part because most people qualified to write on the topic are pastors, and writing about how you ought to be cared for is an awkward, if not precarious thing to do. As an ordained minister who is serving as a professor rather than as the pastor of a congregation I realized I have a unique window of opportunity to note a comment recorded in Faith Cook’s biography William Grimshaw of Haworth (Banner of Truth, 1997). Grimshaw ministered in the 18th century in the English town later made famous by the Bronte sisters. In the book, Cook cites the advice given by William Grimshaw to two young men who were just entering into gospel ministry, as recorded by Thomas Mitchell:
“One time Paul Greenwood and I called at his house together and he gave us a very warm exhortation which I shall never forget. He said, ‘If you are called to preach the gospel, all hell will be up in arms against you. Prepare for battle and stand firm in the good ways of God. Indeed you must not expect to gain much of this world’s goods by preaching the gospel. What you get must come through the devil’s teeth, and he will hold it fast as he can. I count every covetous man to be one of the devil’s teeth. And he will let nothing go for God but what is forced from him.'”
By God’s supernatural grace there are congregations that delight in generosity and care well for their pastors. But how many around the world are more like Grimshaw’s description? Of course caring for pastors goes beyond “you shall not muzzle an ox” (I Timothy 5:18) and “the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:3-14) Financial love and generosity is just one aspect of delighting to minister to those who minister to us, actively living Paul’s exclamation “how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15) Where can churches and individuals begin in regaining this vision and finding ways to meaningfully put it into practice? Reading your Bible and prayerfully considering God’s generosity and love to you in Christ is the place to begin. A second helpful resource is Kent Philpott’s How to Care for Your Pastor (Evangelical Press, 2007). Have you or your congregation, session, consistory, or board of elders actively engaged in this beyond creating a budget? What would it do to bless and strengthen the minister and ministry in your midst?