I’m working through a few posts on the topic of discussing the “vocational pastor” – that is, I’m looking at the connection between elders/pastors and salaries in Scripture. As you can probably tell by now, I’m not actually presenting an argument for my position, although I do have a position. Instead, I’m trying to help us all think through how we can discuss this topic.
In the first two posts (“The Vocational Pastor: an interesting discussion” and “The Vocational Pastor: keeping on topic“), I primarily wrote about why this is a difficult topic to discuss. The topic is personal and emotional for almost everyone involved. In the third post (“The Vocational Pastor: the definitions I use“), I explained what I mean by the phrase “vocational pastor.” (Of course, someone else could be writing about this topic using a different definition, but if I didn’t know that, then we would be discussing or arguing about different things.)
In this post, I’d like for us to think about something a little different: tradition, background, experience, and perspective. As much as we would all like to think that our position is built only on Scripture or what is revealed to us by God, in reality many aspects of our lives work together to form our understanding of the connection between salaries and elders/pastors. (This is true for all of our beliefs and actions, of course.)
In order to understand my position, it helps to understand where I’ve come from as well as how I’ve arrived at where I am now. For example, I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition, and I’m still highly associated with Southern Baptists. Until a few years ago, I’ve always been part of churches with vocational pastors.
That’s part of the story. Another part of the story is that I have never been hurt by vocational pastors, and I still have friends who are vocational pastors. I respect many of these people for many different reasons.
Another important aspect of my background (to this topic, anyway) is that I attended seminary in order to become a vocational pastor. I have the educational credentials to be a vocational pastor. Before attending seminary, I was actively pursuing a job as a vocational pastor. I’ve even been asked to be a vocational pastor.
Similarly, if you know how I came to the position that I hold, it would help our discussion. My position on this issue changed while I was in the middle of seminary. My belief about what Scripture says about the connection between elders/pastors and Scripture changed through studying Scripture. It did not change because of my job or because I was angry with anyone or because of a book or author that I read.
Also, if someone is discussing this topic with me, it’s probably important for that person to know that I am currently an elder, but I am not a vocational pastor. I am currently an elder, but I also work full-time to support myself and my family.
All of this background information can help someone understand my perspective on this topic. And, the more that we know about each other, the easier it is to discuss the connection between salaries and elders/pastors from the perspective of Scripture.