Does your pastor have the blues?

The greatest struggle of the average pastor in America is with discouragement and sometimes flat-out depression. The source of his discouragement may be the stress of the ministry and the absence of elders who are walking with him in it. Or the feeling that he is not equipped to take care of a flock. Or that he or his wife or children are struggling with their own sins that they believe they have to keep hidden in order to maintain the facade of a “nearly perfect family.” Or the source may be financial stress.
Alistair Begg gave a talk at a pastors’ conference years ago entitled, “Dealing With the Blues.” His subject was ministerial depression, and the auditorium was packed with discouraged pastors and elders. After the session, elders from one church asked to talk with Alistair in private. “Our problem is not with the pastor, but his wife,” they said. “She is deeply depressed and we have tried everything, but nothing has helped. What should we do?” Pastor Begg said, “Increase your pastor’s annual salary by $5,000.” The elders were shocked and had no response. Later, one of the members of the church who had heard about this conversation found Alistair and said, “You don’t know how right on target you were. Our pastor’s wife has never been able to buy new shoes for her children, and the elders wear it as a badge of honor that the pastor’s family has to scrape together pennies to make ends meet. They believe they are helping them trust God. They think they are helping the pastor never to become a lover of money by making sure he doesn’t have any money to love.”
I heard about another pastor who was thrilled when a couple of families in his country church started giving him milk and eggs every week. Until he found out that the cost of the gifts was being deducted from his salary.
Paul addressed this issue of remuneration for pastors a number of times. He said to the church in Corinth, “If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?” To the church in Galatia, Paul wrote, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.”
Part of the problem is disobedience to the Scriptures with regard to providing for pastors. But there is a deeper problem with disobedience to the Word with regard to giving to the church. The average church in America operates on a 10/90 basis. Ten percent of the people give 90 percent of the money so the church can operate, the pastor and the elders can feed and equip the people (100 percent of them), the lights can stay on, and the missionaries can do their work. Let me ask you something: What percentage of people in churches in America make the payment on their car, which provides them with physical transportation, in the same way they give to the church, which provides them with spiritual nourishment and development? I would guess that most do not.
The few who do pay their bills that way end up losing their cars or their homes. Now, if we pay our bills 100 percent of the time because we feel an obligation to do so and we want to continue to enjoy the material things that those bills represent, how much more should we cheerfully give to the church where we are fed spiritual truth?
Does your pastor or his wife have the blues?

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