the weblog of Alan Knox

Guest blogger: The Rich Young Pastor

Posted by on Jun 3, 2013 in guest blogger | 20 comments

Guest blogger: The Rich Young Pastor

From time to time, I invite people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at alan[at]alanknox[dot]net.)

Today’s post was written by Neil Braithwaite. I “met” Neil about a month ago when he emailed me after coming across my blog. You can find out more about Neil at the following web sites: and


The Rich Young Pastor

One day Jesus met a pastor who had grown-up in the church, attended Christian college and seminary and upon graduation moved from church to church working his way up the financial ladder starting as an associate youth pastor for a mere $20,000 salary and finally at age thirty-five to senior pastor of a large denominational church making over $75,000 with full benefits and a great retirement package.

The pastor told Jesus he had been working very hard since seminary and felt greatly blessed to have been called on every occasion to a church offering a larger salary and better benefits. He also told Jesus he was looking forward to his reward in heaven for a life of sacrificial service as a full-time pastor and preacher of the gospel. The pastor told Jesus he had done his best to follow all His commands and examples and asked Jesus if there was anything at all he could do with the rest of his life to please Him more.

Jesus said to the pastor, “Truly I say to you, as a vocational pastor you have your reward in full. Stop accepting a salary, get a job to support yourself and your family and continue to shepherd your flock and preach the gospel at no charge – and then you will have treasure in heaven.”

Jesus went on to remind the rich young pastor that you cannot serve both God and money, it is more blessed to give than receive, and freely you have received – freely you should give.

When the pastor heard these words from Jesus he went away grieving because making a living by preaching the gospel was all he ever wanted to do and all that he knew, and he wasn’t about throw away all he had worked so hard for by relinquishing his right to charge for the gospel.

“Then Peter said to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.'” Matthew 19:27-30


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-3-2013


    seriously this hits the nail on the head, and couple with this the junk food diet that is passed off as nutrition and this breaks my heart.

    its not that I’m angry, hurt, or upset with institutionalism (my spelling) its the captivity that weighs heavy on my heart.

    Chip Brogden at “The School of Christ” posted:

  2. 6-3-2013

    I think a lot of us are going to be surprised when we find out “We didn’t really do it (whatever ‘it’ is) out of an intense love for Jesus and the saints, but we did it for the money, recognition, etc”. Jesus gets to the heart of a matter. (Psalm 139)

    I think where we error is when we try to assume the heart of a matter based on circumstantial evidence. “Pastor gets salary – therefore Pastor’s doing it for the money”. I don’t think the blogger inferred that – but one could go there easily.

    After you’ve sat thru a few hundred board meetings (‘affectionately’ known as “Elder” meetings) – then you come to realize that mixing a ‘livelihood’ – with ‘a full time ministry’ can be a huge mess that only Jesus could possibly straighten out. ‘Pastor’ making money for ‘pastoring’ can be a real thorn in the side of a volunteer elder in a church that’s cash strapped.

    I’m glad God is the judge – because I sure never figured it out.

  3. 6-3-2013

    What does that say about the seminaries that these “heirlings” attend in order to position themselves to get these salaries. And those who write the books and materials used in the process.

  4. 6-3-2013


  5. 6-3-2013

    I wanted to leave a comment but have no words!

    I’m just so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so very thankful I wasn’t born a man because I believe I would have chosen (and been encouraged to choose) the path of the rich young pastor. Thank you Jesus!

    Although there are so many ways this same idea plays out in my life and so many temptations I confront daily… I’m so thankful this specific one isn’t on my plate.

  6. 6-3-2013

    very very well said. To my mind while it may be possible to make a valid case for being in ‘paid full time ministry’… the big problem is that far too many people have made this a career/calling/vocation path.
    It’s like church structures… while a more institutional/organisational model may be ok in some cases, fact of the matter is its currently far too prevalent and squeezes out those who would like to lean into another way of gathering.
    Imagine if christians pooled resources to help one another and less fortunate in their communities instead of spending on organisational expenses and salaries.

    Its tough, as others have said, many a well meaning and prayerful christian has ended up in paid pastorate because that is what seems to be the logical choice. Its often expected of them.

  7. 6-4-2013

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I don’t know if Neil will be able to respond to comments here, but perhaps he will later.

    As I told Neil when he first sent this to me, I know many, many people in the position of the “rich, young pastor.” Most of them are mature followers of Jesus Christ. I believe that God is using them in their vocational position, even if I do not think that vocational position is best of the church. I do empathize with them concerning the financial support issue, especially in this economy.


  8. 6-4-2013

    well said, Alan!

  9. 6-9-2013

    I’m a vocational minister who accepts a salary, and I would love to one day serve for no charge. However, I have to feed my family like anyone else, and I’ve worked in secular work while at the same time ministering to a church as their preacher. I don’t call myself a pastor because that’s a term equivocated with an elder/bishop, and not a preacher/minister — although I do have some pastoral duties (i.e., counseling).

    However, I couldn’t do about 35% of what I do if I wasn’t able to do this full time, because most places of employment aren’t as kind to those who minister so that they could leave when a tragedy occurs or when there was a funeral of someone who isn’t a relative. I’ve been in the position and had to chose my livelihood over preaching a funeral or going directly to a hospital when something bad has happened.

    One issue I take with this post (respectively) is that the disciples did leave everything, but they also depended upon the kindness and charity of others for their sustenance. How is that any different from accepting a salary? I’m honestly asking and not trying to debate.

    Again, I have a goal to be able in the future to reject a salary so that I could free up those funds for other uses. However, I’ve been on both sides of the coin, and it is helpful to have that salary while ministering so that I can do more without the hindrance of secular job.


  10. 6-9-2013


    Like I said in a previous comment, I definitely sympathize with your position. However, I do not think the scriptural examples of hospitality are the same thing as today’s salary. Salaries were common in the 1st century also, but they were never applied to any type of church leadership.

    As a person who works a “secular job” and who also is an elder among the church, I can tell you that there are many ways to serve during “work hours.” For example, I’ve often taken vacation time when I needed to. Also, if there were times when I could not visit someone in the hospital or serve someone in another way, God has always provided someone else to do that work. Of course, since I’m not paid to do that, then people don’t expect me (or the other elders) to do everything.

    It is a different view of leadership, ministry (service), and mutuality among the church.


  11. 6-9-2013

    Thank you for this perspective Neil. It is interesting you chose to end with that particular scripture in Matthew. I have always taken that verse as reflecting the pervasive mutuality that Alan is currently blogging about in his blog. It is even more meaningful now my wife and I have joined the house church movement.

  12. 6-9-2013


    I’ve read your posts about salaries and agree with many, but not all, of your conclusions. Nevertheless, I did read your previous comment and appreciate that you seem to (correct me if I’m wrong) view this situation more through the lenses of Christian liberty than dogmatically.

    And I will confess that expectations are something that kill the community effort of a church. I have read the website where you’re an elder, and I follow your blog too, and I have tried to change the “culture” of the church where I serve to conform more to scripture. However, changing traditions that have been in place for several decades has certainly proven hard.

    Thanks for all that you do, and to those who contribute on your blog.


  13. 6-9-2013


    Interesting… I had not thought of that passage in relation to mutuality, but I can see what you mean.


    You said, “And I will confess that expectations are something that kill the community effort of a church.” That’s so true. Often, it’s best to say, “No,” but I also understand that that’s no always allowed in your position – if you’re going to keep your job, anyway.


  14. 6-10-2013

    Yes Alan, Peter and the other disciples gave up all of their possessions to follow Jesus, but they gained even more through the mutual dependence of the other believers. The fulfillment is seen in Acts 2:42 “…and all who believed were gathered together and had all things in common.”

    Great website. Been following for a while.

  15. 6-10-2013


    Thank you for reading, and thank you for commenting!


  16. 6-11-2013


    Thank you for showing us what scripture says about money and pastors! It is a much needed truth!

  17. 6-11-2013


    Thanks for commenting. I’m glad that you enjoyed Neil’s post.


  18. 6-17-2013

    If a pastor or minister demands a certain amount of salary or benefits, etc in spite of an obvious call of God, then that is unfortunate, and he should examine his spirit. Or, if he is “chasing a dollar” (leaving a church after only a short time for better pay, etc) then that is also wrong. Ministers should not make decisions on where they will serve based on how much pay they will receive.

    That said, if the church members are tithing, there should be plenty of funds to do the ministry work of the church, and pay their ministers a reasonable salary. Honestly, I think $75k for a high-level staff person of a large denominational church is reasonable. What does it say about the church members if they cannot or will not take care of their own staff that oversee their spiritual needs?

  19. 6-17-2013


    While I understand your point of view – I even held that view for a long time – my understanding of Scripture has changed in the last few years. I do not think Scripture presents being an “elder” or “pastor” as a job in which someone earns a salary.


  20. 6-24-2013

    See life of George Mueller. Then end. 🙂