The word “pastor” comes from the Greek and Hebrew, meaning “shepherd”*. He is an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. Jesus Christ often referred to Himself as a pastor, and the followers are His sheep. It was one of his favorite metaphors for spiritual leadership because the sheep are completely dependent on the shepherd to meet all their needs. The sheep also follow and recognize their shepherd’s voice. This is a great representation of what it means to be a pastor. A shepherd will comfort, nurture, correct and protect the sheep under his charge. The same holds true for the pastor or any elder of the church.
The pastor’s salary is something people don’t seem too keen on discussing. For whatever reason, it seems to be a topic spoken of in hushed tones and with furtive glances. But a pastor’s salary is important in keeping a pastor in the church and in assuring that his family, like everyone else’s, can be supported adequately with the salary he receives. If a pastor is worried because his compensation is not enough to meet the needs of his household, his focus and attention will not be solely on serving the church and its followers. He will be split with trying to figure out how to make ends meet**.
There really should not be a taboo of discussing a pastor or minister’s salary. After all, in the Bible, the Lord commanded that a minister should be supported “In the same way that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living from the gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:14, RSV) ***. He also said that pastors should get an adequate salary, “Those officers of the church who fill their office should be considered as deserving twice the salary they get, particularly those who labor in teaching and preaching.” (1 Tim 5:17, Williams)***.
Churches and religious organizations will have their own religious doctrine to adhere to. Interpreting it within the context of their belief system will determine the salary with which the church will be able to offer its pastor. Some churches adhere to a vow of poverty, while others preach a prosperity gospel. These are religious in nature and may be dealt with within the workings of the church. However, all things being equal, a pastor should be fairly compensated for the performance of his duties and responsibilities as leader and shepherd of his flock.
While we are on the subject of pastor’s salary, it may be appropriate to also discuss what should and should not make up the salary of a pastor. The most basic is what applies to everyone else who receives compensation for his or her work. A salary is cash payment (before taxes). Other benefits, such as health insurance and other reimbursable items, are over and above the salary and may be treated separately from it.
The resources for finding out the fair compensation rate for a pastor are widely available and easily accessible. At www.payscale.com for example, we see that the range for salaries of a pastor are between $26,626 and $87,525 with a median of $54,269****. At the click of a button there is adequate information for the denomination to determine what the mean income is for the families of the church and use it to determine the pastor’s salary.
In closing, while people are called to be pastors, these same people are not called to live impoverished and devoid of provisions. This especially holds true for pastors who need to support their families with the income that they receive from the congregation. The pastor is supposed to lead his flock through the valley of darkness. How can he do that if his focus is elsewhere?
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*For more information, please visit: http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/schooley-pastor.shtml
**For more information, please visit: http://thomrainer.com/2012/12/17/five-things-you-should-know-about-pastors-salaries/
***For more information, please visit: http://www.guinnsmith.com/article_worth.html
****For more information, please visit: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Senior_Pastor/Salary