From the Word: 2 We give thanks to God always for you all, continuously remembering you in our prayers, 3 recalling before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfast hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2–3)
From the Confessions: The Small Catechism, Table of Duties
Certain passages of Scripture for various holy orders and positions, warning them about their duties and responsibilities:
What the Hearers Owe to Their Pastors
Even so, the Lord has ordained that they who preach the Gospel should have a living by the Gospel (1 Cor 9:14). Let him who is taught the Word, share all good things with the one who teaches (Gal 6:6). Let the elders who lead well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the Word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and “The laborer deserves his wages” (1 Tim 5:18). Obey those who rule over you, and submit yourselves to them, for they watch over your souls—as they will have to give an account. Obey them so that they may lead with joy and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you (Heb 13:17).
Pulling It Together: Those called to the ministry of the Word deserve their wages. It is written, but it does not say how much or how well. The closest we can come to an understanding of salary is that those who do so most ably deserve twice as much pay for their labors. That reminds me of the Chief of Police who was so pleased with my chaplaincy work that he declared he was doubling my salary the next year. That doubling would have made my paycheck come to the sum of zero dollars over the seven years I served the Lord in that police department.
I cannot think of many pastors who would not be willing to serve for less pay than they deserve if they got more out of their people in other respects. If the words of Paul to the church in Thessalonica could be said of any pastor’s congregation, those pastors would be so grateful, that salary would be the last thing on their minds.
In this time of sheltering at home because of the pandemic, our pastors have been faithful and creative to find ways to get the Word to you. In doing so, I have no doubt that God is using their daily devotions, services of prayer, and worship—in print, by television, radio, telephone, the Internet, and likely in other ways too—to reach a larger net than their labors had previously extended. Praise the Lord! Their “faith in God has gone forth everywhere” (1 Thes 1:8). And if it bears fruit in the lives of their own people, they will be very thankful pastors indeed, giving thanks for you always before our God and Father (1 Thes 1:2–3).
Prayer: Help me, Father, to be faithful to the preaching of your Son. Amen.
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