While some preachers are well cared-for by their congregations and live with very few financial difficulties, many others struggle financially. Often, this is unavoidable. The offerings are modest, and there is no way for the church to do more for the pastor than it does. I hope the following suggestions will encourage you, and be of some practical value in the matter of handling your personal income.
1. Give Generously
Not only will God bless you as an individual because you have given generously to His work, but your generous spirit will be observed and imitated by your members. Someone once said to Dr. Hutson, “I wish I had soulwinners in my church like you have in yours.” Dr. Hutson replied, “You don’t get what you want, you get what you are.” Those of us who would like to have generous givers in our church membership must be generous givers ourselves.
2. Treat Other Men of God Generously
Some preachers seem to feel that because their finances are limited, it is their responsibility to limit the finances of their guest speakers as well. This is short-sighted on two counts: first, because it gives the wrong example to our members; second, because of the law of sowing and reaping.
I remember years ago talking to someone about the matter of personal finances. He commented to me that my financial situation was probably helped some by the fact that I preached out somewhat. I smiled and said, “Well, I never get the kind of offerings that we give.”
He responded, “Ah, but there’s a verse that says ‘whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’” I remembered that conversation much later when, at a time of significant need in my life, several churches treated me with unusual generosity.
3. Budget Carefully
Most of us have no idea where our money goes. We just know there is not enough to do everything we need or would like to do. I suggest that people who are struggling financially take a spiral notebook and devote one page of the notebook to each item on which they spend money. I encourage them to set the page up like the ledger in a checkbook, so that every paycheck they make a deposi,t and when money is taken from that account they make a withdrawal. A balance column is at the end.
In this way, a man who had a $500 insurance premium due every year would set aside $10 every week. He would know that he could not spend that money, but he would have it available when the premium came due. I always have monthly bills divided by four so that weekly deposits can be made.
One of the pages is for spending money and one for miscellaneous, or money that is left over after all expenditures have been met. These are the only monies that may be spent at the discretion of the individual.
4. Look for Bargains
Don’t be too proud to wear second-hand clothes if you can get ones that fit you and look sharp. I don’t advise people to buy a new car. It is simply a poor investment. Look for clubs that give discounts in areas where you make regular expenditures. Cultivate relationships with people who will give you wholesale prices.
Get to know the business people in your town, and give them enough business that it is in their best interest to give you a good price. (I never ask for a discount because I am a preacher. I do think it is perfectly appropriate to negotiate the best deal possible in all circumstances.)
5. Be Grateful for What God Has Already Provided
I believe that one great reason some people struggle financially is because they always complain. God likes to give His gifts to His children who enjoy and appreciate them. Until we are grateful for what God has already given us, we should not expect Him to give us anything else.