by Beth Waltman
I once heard of a pastor who got fired because his wife baked and sold bread, using the parsonage oven. It seems that the church was paying for utilities, and begrudged her the chance to make a little money. The couple had five children!
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In another case, we heard that a music minister volunteered his services, working a full-time job to support his family. Uninformed members began to ask, "What does the minister of music do? Why can't he mow the church grass, also? We think we're paying him too much."
My heart went out to the couples in retroactive sympathy.
Most churches realize that their ministers have all the earthly needs that the rest of the church family requires.
Our congregations are often scrambling to provide for their collective families.
The pastor's family must dress well, drive decent cars, and entertain frequently. The same principles that apply to everyone in our congregation apply to us. When insurance and gas prices skyrocket, we're in a bind too. Often, the church budget isn't up to emergency raises.
The Proverbs 31 woman didn't wait until the kids were cold and the phone line was shut off. She went out and bought a field, starting a vineyard industry. She sewed belts to sell to tradesmen. She was an enterprising woman. In the long run, "the works of her hands will praise her in the gates. Her children rise up and praise her. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he has no lack of gain. The woman who fears the Lord, she shall have praise."
How can we apply Godly principles, stretching our incomes, whether we're married to the minister or one of the flock?
Here are some ways we can do this:
1. Tithe first. Then practice stewardship with all your belongings. Do you really need all that stuff? Who else can use it? If you can't give it to a homeless shelter, sell it on ebay or in a yard sale. Half-price book stores pay for used books, also.
2. Spend wisely so you don't have to earn as much. Buying on sale is a sham if you end up paying interest.
3. Research your loans and credit cards. Be sure you're getting the best rate.
4. Check out ideas for working at home. The cost of a second family income might be more than you think, once you subtract child care, wardrobe, automobile, and taxes.
5. Take advantage of online auctions, yard sales, and estate sales. Often the piece of furniture, clothing or books you need are available for a song. My daughter bought a year's worth of college wardrobe online for about $25. The quality was like new.
6. Avoid high-pressure sales. Think ahead. Never join a magazine, book or coffee club. You're paying for someone else to select your items, in addition to the price of the items. The "6 free books or DVDs" are soon nullified.
Psalm 37 contains a promise:
"The children of the righteous will not beg for bread." There have been times when I literally claimed that promise for my kids, writing their names in the margin and lifting up our need for grocery money.
Through the years, God has been faithful to provide all our needs and some of our wants. As a mother of three, married to a minister for 22 years, we continue to do our part by pinching every penny!
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Copyright © 2001 by Beth Waltman. All rights reserved.