“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;” (I Peter 5:1-2).
What are the responsibilities of those who serve as elders? To begin with, God calls upon elders and pastors to shepherd the flock of God that is among them. Secondly, elders and pastors are to exercise oversight on behalf of the congregations they shepherd. Thirdly, elders and pastors are to serve in the local church with a willing spirit. Peter refers to this particular attitude with the phrase “not under compulsion but willingly.”
Fourthly, elders and pastors are not to serve in the local church for the purpose of sin, but rather having an eager spirit to serve the Lord and other people. Peter uses the phrase shameful gain (αἰσχροκερδῶς; aischrokerdos) meaning material gain or profit. False teachers are always motivated by money. They seek to rob people of their own wealth in order to add more to their own.
It is the church’s biblical responsibility to pay their pastors well (I Corinthians 9:7-14; I Timothy 5:17-18), but a pastor’s desire for more must never be a motive for service (I Timothy 3:3; 6:9-11; 2 Timothy 2:4; Titus 1:7; 2 Peter 2:3). John Calvin stated that the minister belongs to Christ, and is not to be “a slave to his own stomach and purse.”
In contrast to the pastor serving because of greed, he should serve eagerly. To serve eagerly (προθύμως; prothymos) means that one’s first concern is not about pay, but rather about ministry. If asked to serve in a memorial service, no one should ask how much it pays. If you receive an honorarium, wonderful. But don’t serve because of the honorarium. Instead, serve because you have the opportunity to glorify God.
How lasting the damage done when a pastor or elder steals from the church’s finances. Trust is broken and the Lord’s reputation tarnished. This should never happen.
Pray that God will protect your pastor from greed. Pray that your church will pay your pastor an excellent wage so he will not be tempted to seek financial gain elsewhere or be preoccupied by it.
Soli deo Gloria!