Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ministry Servants

We live in a scary economic time and no one wants to lose their job. Unemployment can be especially frightening for people that are over the age of 50, as ageism is a very real fact in America today. So, people are willing to do almost anything to hold on to a job. Employees are working late nights and weekends with no financial compensation, and they are taking extra measures to keep their emotions and feelings in check so as not to make waves. Fear and intimidation are powerful tools.

Over the past few weeks I have become increasingly aware of just how negative the workplace environment can be for church employees. Because Pastors have the right to fire employees with little provocation and can decide to move in a "new direction" on a whim and at the drop of a hat, being a part of the church staff can be very oppressive. I've met a number of church employees who have said, "I don't dare express my dissatisfaction for fear it will get me fired." We're not talking about spiritual or Biblical debates here, but rather we're talking about an overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated staff. Pastors love to tell their staff members that they are not just "employees", but they are co-workers in "the ministry", and as such they should be willing to make whatever sacrifice is needed for success. If employees are not willing to give it "their all", then they need to find another job!

Our "ministry" is our life. Every aspect of our life - our job, our children, our family, our friendships, and even our grocery shopping outings - everything about our lives ought to minister to those with whom we come in contact. The Bible is riddled with instructions for employers. They are definitely held to a high standard in God's eye. One example is Ephesians 6:9; "And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him". I am not suggesting that you pastors out there are threatening your employees. But if they are working in an environment of fear and oppression then they may feel threatened. If you have told your staff that they need to give selflessly and without fair compensation "for the good of the ministry" then you are may be taking unfair advantage of your employees.

Come on Pastors, get of the pew and be an example to the world. Most of you have families, and you go home to them - as you should. If you're not willing to work seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day for the ministry, then you really ought not expect that from your staff. Their ministries expand to their families and friends and they need to go home.

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