Even so has the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:14 KJV
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
New Living Translation (©2007)
In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.
New International Version (©2011)
In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
I’m sure you already know what I’m getting at. Today I want to deliver preachers from the fear and the trepidation surrounding this scripture. Lets make something crystal clear: The LORD has ORDAINED that you should LIVE by the GOSPEL. Now this only works if you all called to preach the gospel as a pulpit gift or vocationally. God has set this in motion that you are to receive your living from the gospel. PERIOD.
I’ve heard so many preachers and parishioners alike, use the reference to Paul making tents and Paul’s attitude towards offerings with the Corinthians. Lets look at that for a moment.
After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. Acts 18:1-4
So its quite clear here that Paul made tents with Aquila and Priscilla. But you CANNOT isolate one text and make a doctrine surrounding it. Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word (or doctrine) must be established. So it must agree with the rest of the Bible. Or lets say it this way: LET THE BIBLE INTERPRET THE BIBLE.
Paul spent most of 1 Corinthians chapter 9 explaining how he was worthy to receive offerings and support from that church. He was surely an apostle and just in the natural had a right to the “milk of the flock” (1 Corinthians 9:1-7). Verse twelve says:
“If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the Gospel of Christ.”
Paul had a pastor’s heart and it motivated him not to demand his rights to support in this church. He didn’t want to disgrace the gospel. Although Paul didn’t want to disgrace the message, he didn’t mean the Corinthians church was excused of their responsibility to financially support him! In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he repented for having relieved them of their responsibility to support him.
Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, EXCEPT IT BE THAT I MYSELF WAS NOT BURDENSOME TO YOU? FORGIVE ME THIS WRONG. 2 Corinthians 12:12-13
Two things need to be noted here. The first one is that Paul apologized to this church for not making a demand on their faith. The Lord ordained that those who preach the gospel should be supported by those who are benefiting from it. That didn’t originate with Paul. In fact that began way back in the Old Covenant with the priests! Secondly, their unwillingness to honor the man of God, who was sent to bless them, made them an INFERIOR church. That’s the Bible. I didn’t make that up. So a church can be anointed, have good music, and great preaching, but if they don’t honor the man of God who is placed in that church to feed, bless and impart to them, GOD CALLED THE CHURCH INFERIOR.
What am I getting at? Am I fishing for offerings? Absolutely not. I’m blessed financially and its not because I’m a pastor. I was blessed before I started pastoring and I’ll be blessed if God moves me into something else. I’m endeavoring to balance out this teaching going around saying that its ok to work 50-60 hours a week laboring in the ministry and then work another 40 hours on a secular job to live. I don’t think it’s God. God said that if He called you, He can feed you.
Now am I saying that preacher who works a secular job is out of the will of God? No, I didn’t say that. I worked a secular job for years while I was traveling in the ministry. I remember teaching music in the morning, waiting tables in the afternoon, and playing for churches at night AND traveling the world preaching the gospel. I don’t know too many ministers that haven’t been BI-VOCATIONAL at one point or another. So I’m not trying to put anyone into condemnation, but what I am doing is COMMISSIONING YOUR FAITH. Your faith should not settle for working a secular job and preaching the gospel. Your faith should be saying, “God has ordained that the ministry be able to support me. I’m willing and obedient so I expect to eat the good of the land. The day is coming when ministry will be able to fully fund and support me.”
Preacher, the call of God on your life to preach should be your top priority (right under God and family of course). God doesn’t want you trying to work three jobs for one life AND do ministry. The calling of God is THE PRIORITY.
Now let me balance this…If God told you to take up another profession while you are preaching… do it. Just make sure God told you to it. There are many ministers that I know of who are wonderful businessmen, artists, doctors, and professors. Their profession is an integral part of their calling. God called them and anointed them to do those things. They are in those professions because of a calling; not because of a faith issue or because they are trying to “make a living.”
My wife and I are called of God to plant churches and bible schools. In addition to that I’m an author and both of us were recently contracted into a reality TV show. My books sales and the benefits of the reality tv show are PERIPHERAL to my pastoral call and my assignment to plant bible schools. The moment these things begin to distract me, I will cut them off. Why? Because the call is the priority. I don’t live by checks from the network or on my book sales: I LIVE BY FAITH! I believe the gospel that I preach! I believe that if He called me, He’ll feed me. I believe that because I believe Him enough to obey Him. He blesses the book sales and He blesses the TV show. But He doesn’t bless the books and the show SO THAT I can do ministry. I was blessed before I ever signed one book or a contract. God called me and my faith and sufficiency is of HIM ONLY!
If you are one of those ministers who God has called to be bi-vocational, be careful not to edit the bible to fit your experience. Don’t make a doctrine out of how God is leading you. No just turn people to the Word and allow them to be led of the Spirit. It may be God for you to be bi-vocational, but for another preacher it may be a distraction! And further more, they may be robbing their church or ministry because they don’t put faith pressure on them to support their ministry. Just ask Paul the apostle…