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Pastoral Traps: Greed

Pastors can easily fall into the trap of money-grubbing. Or in simpler terms, we can be greedy.

This is true if money winds up in the pastor’s pocket that was earmarked for some other realm of ministry. This is true if the minister is asked about his financial policy with regard to ministry money, and he responds with a “that’s-none-of-your-business” type of reaction. Dependable shepherds are not motivated by what Peter referred to as “sordid gain” (1 Peter 5:2). The old King James Version bluntly calls it “filthy lucre.” That’s an archaic expression, but it says it straight. “Not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.”

My counsel to all in ministry is to keep your hands out of the money. Period. Don’t take cash from people. Don’t give change. Don’t take up the offerings. Don’t count the offering . . . or even concern yourself with where the money is counted. And by all means, don’t try to find out who gives the most! If you do, it will affect the way you preach. On the other hand, if you don’t know what passage of Scripture will offend the largest donors, then you’re free to preach the truth to everyone!

We pastors have to watch out for doing ministry just for the money. Or officiating at a wedding, for example, because there’s money in it. Or doing a funeral because you’ll get a hundred bucks. Greed has no shame. It will wink at you and tempt you, especially in a day when many pastors are underpaid relative to their education.

What I’m saying has nothing to do with “muzzling the ox.” My warning is simple: If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself justifying greed.

Please . . . don’t go there.

                    —Chuck