Money & Preachers: A Potentially Lethal Combination
When it comes to preachers and money, it is one of the most volatile subjects in the church in the United States. Looking at both sides of the argument. People sometimes want poor preachers and preachers want to live extravagant lives to avoid poverty or the appearance of poverty.
To this day, many people still believe that preachers ought not make a living off of the gospel.
If a preacher starves, lives homeless, and can’t provide for his or her family, it seems like a roar of approval is echoed without any tears of pity. It’s part of the ministry. It goes with the territory.
The more poor preachers, the better.
Then the opposite is rich preachers. Million dollar mansions. High end cars. Wives and women. You heard me right. There are preachers that have women on the side. Men preachers too, in homosexual relationships.
I believe that there should be balance. A preacher, if commanded by the Lord, is to live primarily off of the gospel of Jesus Christ, within the means of the legal definition of “reasonable compensation,” then people ought not have a problem with it. But even if it were reasonable compensation, a small renegade bunch of folk will always have a problem with it.
What is the fuel for these things?
In the United States, there are many of God’s people and preachers that are walking around aimless.
What does it mean to be aimless?
Aimless means “without purpose or direction.”
When you watch preachers get involved in questionable endeavors, it begs one to ask the question. What is our purpose and direction?
The Head of the Called Out Ones gave us all the purpose and direction we need.
The Great Commission is the current “standing orders” given to His apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, for the perfecting or maturation of the saints, for the work of the service or ministry, for the edifying or building up of the edifice of the Body of Christ.
This means that if we are not busy doing exactly what the Lord commissioned us to do, then we will do what the devil wants us to do. Be busy doing everything else instead of what the Lord Jesus told us to do.
Therefore, a purposeless agenda is an agenda that obviously is unauthorized by the Lord that has no eternal value.
However, there is also a purpose with intent with bits and pieces of the gospel. Given as elements of truth to obscure the real agenda of duping the gullible saints according to Proverbs 14:15. With smooth words, the unsuspecting are told of obtaining great riches as a result of “sowing” money or goods into the man or woman of God.
There are many preachers in the United States that have built vast “empires” and there are many preachers that quietly go about their business without notice.
Yet, as they go about the business of the Father without notice, you will note that they are doing the most damage to the kingdom of darkness. Under the nose of the enemy, they are witnessing and testifying of the Lord and His gospel. People are getting into the kingdom of God. In turn, they are reproducing Jesus without fanfare and broadway lights.
They are not distracted and they want to keep it that way.
There are many preachers that want the notoriety and to be a part of the parade of the stars. Yet, we see that when these things come, the expectation of their ministries and the person heading these ministries become the focal point of attention.
The Lord Jesus experienced “fame” when He came on the scene.
Matthew 4:24-25 says,
“Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon- possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him — from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.”
The word “fame” means “heard.” In other words, the people heard about Jesus.
What we are seeing is a perverted form of fame. People are no longer attracted to the holiness or righteousness that must be evident in the lives of preachers.
People are attracted to the “bling” of preachers.
The late Dr. Oral Roberts, in his autobiography that I read, said that the Lord told him not chase after the “gold, the girls, or the glory.”
These days, you might as well add don’t touch “the gentlemen.”
Whether same sex or opposite sex.
In ministry, the glitter is litter.
In my previous blog, I shared about Kenneth Hagin’s book called “The Midas Touch.” It was a very prophetic book regarding the false teaching of the prosperity message.
Just in case you don’t understand what Midas means, it means “a king of Phrygia, who, according to one story, was given by Dionysus the power of turning everything he touched into gold.”
It also means as a phrase….
“the Midas touch [is] the ability to make money out of anything one undertakes.”
The same is happening among some preachers today where they believe that every thing that they touch must turn into gold. The push to be famous and rich in ministry is relentless.
Sadly, it seems like this is the only pursuit among some ministers today. This kind of perverted fame is evident in many sectors of the administration (see 1 Corinthians 12:5) of the Lord Jesus. We should not lose heart because there are a few that will not chase after uncertain riches or minister for filthy lucre or illicit gain.
In 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, Paul said “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
Listen to the heart of Paul that is virtually absent in some of today’s preachers from 1 Corinthians 9:11-18.
“Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?
Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?
Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.
Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?
Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.”
It’s only in isolated places where you hear any preaching along these lines. Quite the opposite is preached because to preach anything else, it would not bring in the bacon.
If you are not making money or turning everything that you do into something that will produce money, then you are not considered successful.
Homes, cars, clothing, airplanes, large honorariums and book deals is a false measurement of success.
Big buildings, big honorariums, large groups of people to minister to.
But notice the distinguishing factor of the ministry of Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit was upon the Lord Jesus to heal the sick, cast out devils, and heal other diseases.
In other words, Jesus had the goods. The proof of His ministry was evident.
There is indisputable evidence of the ministry of Jesus but is there the same or similar evidence in preachers today? The Lord gives us the measurement that tells us that either we have the power of God or we don’t.
Notice what Jesus said in Luke 12:48.
“But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
You see, it’s about what you have and what you do not have as far as God’s power is concerned.
There is no sense going to a chicken place if the chicken isn’t good.
Yet, we go to places where the power of God is non existent and there is a reason.
First, there is no living out the Word of God. There may be preaching but there may not be any living of what is preached. The power of God never flows out because one says that there is power. The evidence is when the life of the person God use is holy on the level that the Word requires.
Secondly, the power of God is not left to us to turn on and off when we want. The Holy Spirit is the One that administers the power of God as He wills, not as we will.
Thirdly, all things done must point back to the Lord Jesus and the gospel that He commissioned us to preach. The release of the power of God serves as a witness to them to repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.
We do not have to force the issue. We do not have to put ourselves out on a limb. We do not have to advertise. When the Holy Spirit sees fit that the Word is preached, that a person’s life lines up with the Word, and the people are prepared to receive, it’s all left up to the Holy Spirit, not us.
God will not be put on the spot. He is God. Not a genie.
So people end up in places where there is a chance that God’s power might show up. If you were to count on your hand how many times you’ve seen the Lord do something spectacular, you will shock yourself.
The gospel message is very simple, yet, we have made it into something to force God to do something to prove something. God is God. He sits on the throne. He does as He pleases. He honors faith in His Word. God doesn’t owe us anything. We owe Him all.
So when it comes to money and preachers, we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions.
How long will it be until we come to our senses and be what He wants us to be instead of trying to make God be something? And when will we cry out for balance?