Please let me have a little space to give expression to something which has been on my mind for some time.
In this day of high cost of living, most of ns have obtained higher wages, salaries, or business returns to meet the greater layout for daily necessities. Some of us, who are working in war industries, even receive much more than is needed to meet the higher cost of living and “profit” greatly by the terrible conflict in which also our nation is involved. But while for most of us the increases in income are proportionate to meet rising expenses, there is a very small group in our churches that has not shared in this proportionate increase of income. The forgotten man in this case is the minister of the gospel.
He never did receive a remuneration commensurate with his office, but lie found it below the dignity of his office to fight for his rights. He felt that the church should know her obligation towards him by spiritual intuition. While he was always willing to bring sacrifices for us, were we always justified in asking these sacrifices?
Are we justified in placing our ministers with their education and responsibility in a class with the lowest paid factory worker or the stenographer in an office? If we rightfully expect the employer to pay the sweeper in the factory and the girl in an office a living wage, what about the minister of the gospel, the ambassador of God to His people, he who has the most responsible of all positions, who breaks the bread of life to us, who teaches our children and us according to the Word of God? Let us pay him a salary as befits his office. Let us be so grateful to our God that He gives us faithful servants that we are willing to make sacrifices for them, rather than expecting them to make sacrifices for us.
Therefore, let us hasten to make the necessary adjustments. Let it be below our dignity to bicker about it, and let us do it in a spirit of love and appreciation. Easy will it prove to be when we thus approach the
Take, for instance, the case of a minister with a family of five or six, in a congregation of from sixteen to twenty families, with a salary of a meagre fourteen or fifteen hundred dollars a year or about twenty-seven or twenty-nine dollars a week. How far does that go for such a family, especially if they have some children going to school? What if they wish their child or children to have a higher education?
Yes, I know they have free rent, but, even so, let us do a little figuring and then let us freely admit that such a salary is indeed inadequate. Do not forget either that the minister has to buy books and read magazines. These books are his tools, so to speak, and certainly cost money, and he of all men must keep abreast of the times.
At any rate, we may not be satisfied to pay them just a mere living and deny them the little luxuries to which we seem to think we are entitled.
Now, as far as the practical end of this is concerned, we shall find it very easy in most cases to bring these salaries up to where they belong. We could sum it up in these few words: “Let everyone give according as the Lord has prospered him.” But let us be specific. Again let us take a congregation of sixteen to twenty families. If each family contributes only half a dollar more a week, that would give the minister some four or five hundred dollars more per year. What a little that would mean to us and how much that would mean to him and his family. Certainly we are not overpaying him by giving him around two thousand dollars a year; let us not worry too much about this.
If our group is larger or if we can do more, so much the better. The very small congregations will probably need some support to accomplish this improvement, but also they should strive to bring it up to the proper level.
As far as bringing up the extra half dollar or so is concerned, it will be hardly a hardship on any of us. I doubt whether we would even have to deny ourselves any luxuries for it. But suppose there are some of our poorer families that are unable to contribute this much more, there are some that could give many times this extra amount without missing it. Be not concerned about the poorer or larger families. Doesn’t experience teach that they are, in comparison, the more liberal givers? It is probably the individual who is making so much more than he needs who needs God’s special grace to give that extra five or ten dollar bill every Sunday. Then, too, there are our young people, many of whom are earning good money these days. If presented to them in the proper way by their parents and exhorted by their example, they would be the first to willingly and gladly do their share.
If the government, to wage this war we are engaged in, takes one dollar out of five above the amount we need to live on, and as good Christian citizens we pay this without murmuring, how much, more should we Voluntarily and gladly give out of the remaining four for the cause of God’s Kingdom, as citizens of that heavenly kingdom, as co-laborers with God, waging the spiritual warfare in which the church is engaged under the leadership of her ministers.
Let us, when we make up our budgets in a few weeks, include this substantial increase for the minister, asking of the Lord to make us willing and cheerful givers. Let us not bicker about it, and do it without any fanfare. We are only doing then what we should have done long ago.
In conclusion, let us prove the Lord in this: Will He not spiritually prosper us; will He not bless us with a still more devout ministry, and a greater love in the Church, and a lesser inclination to seek the material things?
Yours for the work in God’s Kingdom,
1850 S. Burdick St.