10 brief thoughts on getting paid as a priest
Preface: I’m not saying here every senior pastor must be paid, or be full time, or that full-time, paid pastors are even necessarily optimal in every situation. There are pros and cons to the various ways of supporting clergy, and that’s what this is about.
- I believe the pastoral load, evangelistic efforts, and the tasks of administrating the church should be shared by the whole congregation--every member--paid and unpaid in some measure. Full-time doesn't mean "does everything."
- That said, I am grateful to be paid so I can devote a great deal of time to prayer, study, caring for people at their work places and during business hours, and so on.
- And personally, if I were part-time, I wouldn't have much bandwidth to do much more than prepare the sermon.
- If I was part time or unpaid my sermons likely wouldn't be as helpful because I wouldn't have as much time to connect with the community.
- Sometimes there are long stretches where it is tempting for introverts to like myself to retreat to my office and not truly engage with the world outside my bubble. Bi-vocational pastors have some built in accountability and opportunity in this area I don't have.
- Being full-time at church is a blessing to my family that I don't take for granted, because I'm flexible enough to help with things like pick-ups from school.
- If you love your work (as I do) and you see it more as "vocation" than "job" (as I do), and you are very aware of the intense level need around you (as I am) you it's all-too-easy to forget to rest (as I too often do).
- Related to #7: Full-time still isn't enough time to accomplish everything I want to accomplish. Even full-timers must be aware of their limits.
- Relying on the community of faith for the bulk of your financial support is an act of faith that God will provide your daily bread.
- A stipend is funds you receive to live on (like an allowance), so you can be what you are called to be. A salary is payment given in exchange for the performance specific duties. It may be semantics, but in light of the crazily diverse range of things that I do, and the erratic "schedule" that I keep, and the ethical shadiness of "getting paid to pray," I think of the financial support I receive as the former more than the latter.