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IS CONCEPT OF PASTOR’S APPRECIATION BIBLICAL?


PHILLIP KUNDENI CHIDAVAENZI

A few weeks ago, a colleague approached me seeking to find out if there was a biblical endorsement of the concept of ‘pastor’s appreciation’.


At their church, there had just been a call for all members to part with something so that they could honour their man of God with some substance. He said what he found quite disturbing was that after the congregation had bought the pastor a room divider and a black television stand, he said he would have preferred a silver one. The congregants, some of whom have given sacrificially for the gift to be bought, he said, were not amused.

This brought about the debate concerning the issue of pastors’ appreciation, which is a widespread practice in churches, although a lot of people have little understanding about it.

My answer to him was, yes, the pastor’s appreciation is biblical. But of course, this has always been a sticky issue from as far back as the days of the early apostles, which is why Paul the apostle took time to address the otherwise controversial topic in his letters to the churches at Corinth and Philippi.

This is a spiritual law.

The apostle Paul starts off with the buildings blocks in I Corinthians Chapter 9. He describes the congregation at Corinth as his “work in the Lord” and the seal of his apostleship. Obviously, there were some in the congregation who had questioned the authenticity of his apostleship. In other words, what he was saying was that a congregation—or invariably a ministry—must confirm the pastor’s calling. 



A pastor’s calling is confirmed through those who sit under his spiritual authority, grace and anointing. In other words, what Paul was implying is that the churches he had planted sealed his apostleship. He employed powerful imagery to drive his message home. He contended that a vine dresser had a right to eat from the vineyard. A shepherd was entitled to the milk of the sheep he tended.


To strengthen his case, Paul explained that his argument was no personal opinion, but a contention with scriptural endorsement:

Say I these things as a man, 
or saith not the law the same also?
For it is written in the law of Moses,
thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of 
the ox that treadeth out the corn.
Doth God take care for oxen?”
1 COR. 9:8-9, KJV

Here, Paul was quoting Deuteronomy 25:4, contexualising the origins of the practice. It basically means that the ox on plough might not be restrained by any means from eating the corn as it had an opportunity, either by a muzzle put over its mouth, or other ways. Priests in the Old Testament, according to the standard operating system spelt out to Moses concerning the tribe of Levi, the priests did not have to till the ground for survival like the other 11 tribes, but they partook of the portions of meat, grain and oil brought to the temple for sacrifice and offerings by the children of Israel. In simpler terms, a pastor is entitled, at the expense of the assembly, based upon the money people give to the said assembly, to be taken care of at congregation’s cost.

Paul, in his letter to his young apprentice, Timothy, quotes the same scripture while explaining that “the labourer is worthy of his wages” (I TIM. 5:18b, NKJV).

Writing to the Corinthians, Paul justifies the practice which, as far as he was concerned, was a fair exchange between the pastor and his congregation. He portrays it as a transaction in which both sides accrue benefits. While the church gets spiritual nourishment under the pastor’s teaching and preaching, the pastor gets natural provisions from the congregation:

If we have sown unto your spiritual things,
is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?”
I COR. 9:11, KJV

 Paul explained that when the Philippians got a chance to give to him while he was ministering in Thessalonica, it was not so much that they had to do it for him because he had learnt to be content in all circumstances. Their giving, he said, would be beneficial more to them than to him:

Not that I seek a gift, 
but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account,
Indeed I have all and abound. 
I am full, having received from Epaphroditus
the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma,
an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
 And my God shall supply all your needs 
according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
PHIL. 4:17-19, NKJV

When a man of God draws from the congregation, the motive is important. Paul says whether or not he receive something, he will not cease ministering to the church because he had an understanding that his calling far exceeded whatever his flock would do for him, and he appreciated that when all was said and done, his reward would come from God. This was the underling motive for his ministry:

For though I preach the gospel, 
I have nothing to glory of:
for NECESSITY is laid upon me; yea, 
WOE is unto me,
if I preach not the gospel!
For if I do this thing willingly, 
I have a reward…
What is my reward then, 
verily that when I preach the gospel,
I may make the gospel of Christ without charge,
That I abuse not my power in the gospel.”
I COR. 9: 16-18, KJV

The tragedy of our day, however, is that they are ministers of the gospel who throw tantrums and rages, if not give up on ministry altogether, simply because they feel their congregation was not doing enough to ensure their comfort, well-being and provision.


It is quite unfortunate when pastors put the material benefits of the gospel to themselves ahead of their calling to minister unto the people of God. To rant because one feels the church is not taking good of them is, as Paul said, like putting a “charge” for the gospel, something he equates to “abuse of power” by a minister of the gospel. God bless you…

11 comments:

  1. Nice piece.I think the only problem as you have highlighted is when they demand or coerce congregants into showering them with goodies.The congregation on its own should look after the 'Levites' and do this as an obligation rather than to be coerced into giving.One issue which is not clarified however concerning this issue is ...'is appreciation about luxuries?'

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  2. There must be mutual appreciation.The congregation must appreciate the pastor(Galatians 6:6).On the other hand,the pastor must appreciate the congregation for sitting under his/her ministry ,for praying for him/her,for appreciating him/her etc.

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  3. I think it is equally important thank the duty of a man of God is to bless his congregation and not thank them. Surely one can only bless if he is called.

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  4. This is one aspect that is tearing apart the church. But with the way you put across your argument, the church stands to benefit. It's unfortunate the gospel is being commercialized. The issue of pastors appreciation is taking centre stage in modern churches, especially Pentecostals. It's high time the gospel of salvation should return to the pulpit. As believers we should be motivated by the need to bring many to Christ. Go you therefore and make disciples . . . should be our motto.

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  5. lovely piece.it is more benficial for the congregants to look after their Pastor because of the blessing he pronounces upon their lives.on the other hand if they let their Shepherd go without,it does not augur well for them

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  6. Is it scriptural brethren if pastors receive a financial appreciation from their members and convert it to other uses because the amount is "too little" for them compared to what they wanted whilst the offerings came from the congregant's hearts? Are the pastors supposed to decide what they should receive?

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  7. It's quite unfortunate that sometimes you have pastors specifically demanding a certain amount. In fact, its not biblical. But in that context, the question would be: how much has been given as appreciation? I think it also matters to give your man of God an amount with which he will be able to do something significant.

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  8. Bro Kundeni, I think all the scriptures you quoted from Old and New Testaments mean 1. Giving of Tithes and offerings to be used in the house of God. Check Mal 3:8-10. 2. Having a special day where the pastor is showered with goodies is not biblical. Paul in his letters meant the Sanctuary system (Old testament) way of taking care of the Levites. 3. Just like Farai said, giving to the pastor aside from Tithes and offerings should come from the individual's heart. The pastor does not have to emphasize it on the pulpit like what we see these days. That is cunning and being manipulative. Idolism and competition in the church start from there. It divides the church. When Paul spoke about "his goal", was he referring to material gain or being in heaven after Christ's 2nd advent? Pastors who keep their eyes on who gives what and what is given to them are covetous and full of lust. Partialism is rooted in practices such as "Pastors' appreciation day or offering". To me it is not biblical. Its a pagan Roman practice of honoring their gods.

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    1. If you read carefully the last two paragraphs of my piece, I am sure you will notice that, essentially, we are firing from the same corner!

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