One of the things that makes me really angry is when ministers turn the Gospel into merchandise and begin marketing it with the same zeal and sneakiness as some used car salesmen. The wife of one Messianic minister once told me that she felt more like a business associate than she did a wife. That is so very, very sad indeed.
Another thing that makes me angry is when ministers keep begging and needling their congregations for money, especially at a time when people are suffering from the recession and are losing their homes. They're not the only ones struggling to pay utility bills - we all are, but not all whine and gripe to their members to take care of them while they are sitting around on their backsides writing books (never free, always for sale) that most people will never read because they can't afford them, or because they don't need them.
I also notice that some ministers somehow are still managing to maintain expensive lifestyles even when everyone else is suffering, jetting around having a good time on their members' tithes. They should be ashamed of themselves. Ministers should be of the people and with the people, and not positioning themselves above them as bloated demi-gods wanting to be served hand-and-foot.
Not all of them are honest either and have not resisted the temptation to dip into funds set-apart for providing some service which they have failed to give and use it instead for themselves, justifying their thievery because of their supposed 'needs' or 'rights'. Yahweh's justice eventually catches up with them and they are judged far more harshly than the lay folk, as is right.
Some are dumping wives and families, taking new ones, and inventing new halachic rules to justify their sinning. And some of them have changed their names and moved state or country to hide their past. But the past always catches up with you eventually.
But even in times of plenty a minister should not be begging for money. When the apostle Paul was short of money, did he threaten, cajole and plead with the assemblies for cash? No. What did he do? He worked at an honourable profession - he made tents (not prayer shawls or Judaica trinkets as some wishful-thinking Messianics would have you believe). In other words, whining ministers should get off their backsides and get a job.
Ministers are supposed to set an example. Except for a short three-year period, Yah'shua earned His living as a carpenter. Yes, there are times and seasons when ministers may require support in order to carry out a heavenly assignment but it is not some divine right, let alone a permanent one. If it was, Paul would not have taken his trade with him on his missionary journeys.
"For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Master Yah'shua the Messiah that they work in quietness and eat their own bread" (2 Thess 3:9-12, NKJV).
When I was a Pastor in Norway, I had a full-time job and financed most of the work with my own paycheck. In hard times, when I retired because of ill-health, I got support from friends in other ministries who were God-sends, literally. Every now and then one of our own people would help, but that was rare. We even made a chapel in our own home to minimise congregational overheads.
And I believe that is how it should be. If a congregation asks for a travelling minister to visit them, they should expect to meet his travelling costs and show good hospitality - he should not have to pay for it himself. That was Paul's beef with some of the congregations he visited - he was invited but they didn't help him. But if Yahweh sends a minister somewhere uninvited, he should go trusting in Yahweh and take a trade with him, if necessary and if at all possible. If we are going to be ministers, we should learn multiple skills so that we too can earn our daily bread when we need and have to.
We don't need fancy buildings to minister the Gospel either, with all their overheads. Rather, "the testimony of our conscience [should be] that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of Elohim, and more abundantly toward you (our congregations)" (2 Cor.1:12, NKJV). I believe we should use the Prussian George Müller, who established orphanages in England, as our model: and though I am far from his stature personally, that is what I aspire to.
With so many opportunistic, wolverine ministers out there in both evangelical and messianic movements, believers need to be careful. And ministers need to repent before Yahweh disciplines them in front of everyone. They have the same carnal natures as ordinary folk and need to remember that. They put on their trousers just like you and me. They should be respected and honoured because of their offices (which Yahweh gave them) but treated as equals in all other respects.
Paul therefore had these words of counsel to give to Timothy and for prospective and actual ministers today:
"If you instruct the brethren...you will be a good minister of Yah'shua the Messiah, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living Elohim, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe" (1 Tim 4:6-10, NKJV).