Monday, February 7, 2022

Pastor's Pay and Ministering in Hope (1 Corinthians 9)

One topic of conversation last night was the pastor's pay and I am still amazed that paying the pastor a minimum wage is still not widely accepted in our denomination. I will fight for that until my last breath. This is for entry-level pastor and really for people with professional or tertiary qualification and experience, there must be an accelerated salary scale. Who wants to become a pastor if his highest salary is stuck at RM2,500.00 even for the most qualified, theological and secular with 25 years of ministry experience? Perhaps a doubling of that for a start and those with sufficient professional experience (5 years of work plus a minimum Bachelor of Theology) should start at RM3,000.00 and quickly works its way up, so those in their early or mid thirties need not fear financial hardship. There is this famous politician who said, "if you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys". We are simply not getting the right kind of people to enter full-time ministry and our salary structure is partly to blame without doubt.

Overall, our full-time worker's knowledge and understanding of the Bible and skill-set needs a quantum leap into the 2nd decade of the 21st century AD. When my guests came to my house last night, I did not share or speak. But for 3 hours, I moved around the house and thankfully, our house contractor in 2006 made an error of extending our second living room by 18 feet instead of 12 feet according to the building plan. That 6 feet extra with the current pandemic makes a lot of difference and the porch outside also saw most of the youths gathered and chatted away into the night. 

When I watched a video of a snow storm in Lebanon ten days ago, and how a big expensive SUV could be stuck in the snow for days and only on the fourth day this couple could make it out of their hotel-resort. It reminded me of my time as a doctoral student driving an old NZ1,000.00 Honda Civic (1978) with no. heating or air conditioning and by God's grace we made it to Alexandra, a small town a few hours from Dunedin. Our car stopped several times because of the cold and I almost panicked that my wife and 9 year old son had to spend the night in the car at the side of the road under freezing conditions. From hindsight, perhaps without money and a good car, one was not meant to take a holidays or even a road trip especially during winter in the South Island. It was a kind of making it happen again in 2012 when I went to Dunedin to visit my son and took him back to Alexandra and Queenstown (finally we made it) and we flew to Mount Cook (with all the snow-capped mountains despite being in summer) on our way to Christchurch before taking a bus-ride back to Dunedin on a 5-day expedition of the South Island. I think that was the only holidays I had in my 11 years of study and work in NZ. I spent two months of my Singapore's salary in New Zealand on vacation with my son. So last night I invited two younger pastors whom I knew well, one when he was only 7 years old and one in my home church as a teenager when I was pastor. They brought their wives and we had wonderful fellowship. I guess by not speaking, I want to encourage them to hope in the Lord since I have identified with my fellow pastors from the start in 1994 with no money. I did not buy a house until I was 43 years old. With my young family, we had lived in various places during ministry placements or vacations. But God is good. If you give up family, houses, and lands for His sake, you will receive it back a hundredfold in this life and in the world to come, everlasting life. 

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