Many pastors probably do not realize how the behavior of some of their colleagues has stereotyped the clergy. Frankly, some ministers set a bad example in their community. And without realizing it, they are keeping people out of the church--and maybe out of the kingdom of God.
Within the last year it has been brought to my attention that many pastors have a different worldview, or mind-set, than the average born-again believer. I have visited with other Christians who recommend not extending credit to the "three Ps": painters, paper-hangers or pastors. Some businessmen will tell you how pastors come in and expect--or even demand--a ministerial discount.
Why do people have this stereotype of church leaders--and is it deserved? Do nonbelievers reject the pastor's message because of his or her lifestyle?
I have had 10 pastors since becoming a Christian 23 years ago at age 30. I am not a church-hopper; four pastors were in one church. One of my pastors was guilty of income-tax evasion and negotiated for community service. The rest were godly men. I gave ministerial discounts in my business because I wanted to do so.
I do not include all pastors in what I am about to recommend. But in the last several years, I have noticed that many people's perception of pastors is that they are not: hard workers, disciplined with finances, appreciative of what others do for them, instilling normally expected values in their children, appreciative of spiritual blessings and able to take criticism.
I would encourage each pastor to do the following, if he or she is not already doing so:
1. Work 50-60 hours a week. The apostle Paul worked two jobs so that no one could accuse him of being lazy. Independent businessmen routinely put in this many hours, and many women work both in and out of the home. Document your time one month to see if you are cheating God and your members.
One of our assistant pastors couldn't document a 40-hour workweek when questioned by the deacons. The Bible says that one should not eat if he doesn't work.
2. Don't overspend your income and use credit to make unnecessary purchases. Many full-time pastors are making adequate salaries and are living better than their members. Parishioners do not get: housing and car allowances, travel expenses, vacations, Christmas bonuses and utility allowances.
And please--don't ask businesses for a ministerial discount. Why would you deserve a discount when you make a purchase more than a member of your congregation does? One salesman told me his reply to this request is, "Yes, we let you buy it for retail plus 10 percent."
3. Have a grateful attitude and a willingness to pay. When a member of your church does something for you, at least send them a thank you card. In the case of caring for your children or doing you a service, you might also offer to reimburse them monetarily.
4. Discipline your children appropriately. If you do not discipline your children at home and in public, your children will not discipline their children. Children will copy your work ethic. Some children are attracted to the pastorate because they view it as a job that does not require discipline, has short hours and easy work, and little accountability.
5. Be content with what God supplies you. When you committed to the ministry, you should have realized you would never be reimbursed as a CEO of a major corporation or make money like some of your friends and family. You should expect God to reward you with what He wants.
6. Accept criticism. If you are criticized by others, then remember the Bible says that "a fool regardeth not reproof." Even if your members or friends are only 50 percent right, then it will make you more Christlike if you apply it to your life. Don't attack God's messenger just because you don't like the message.