“Let me explain…”

Inspired by Jon Acuff’s post #750 “Thinking the church is not wisely spending your tithe” , I thought I’d write a note about one of my peeves: When pastors, church staff, and “poor people” have to explain or justify a purchase or experience because someone might think its extravagant. I was going to ask Jon to write something on it if he hadn’t already then I thought, “Duh, you have your own blog, Joni.” So Jon, if you’re reading this, feel no pressure to express my thoughts.

So, you hear that your pastor, church staffer or a “poor” friend just had an awesome dinner in one of the hottest restaurants in the city and then saw a high priced show. How about a brand new car? House? Vacation? What’s your first thought? Try some of these on for size: “That’s a little extravagant isn’t it?” “I’m sure they could have found a better way to spend that money.” “How much are we paying our pastor again?” “He/She shouldn’t be driving a car like that. He’s obviously not stewarding his/her money well.” And they/you will say “stewarding” because its more spiritual than saying “spending”.

I had a former pastor who took his wife to the Caribbean every other year for vacation while the church struggled to pay its bills. No one knew that another couple gifted a week in their timeshare every other year so the pastor could vacation with his wife and actually relax and reconnect. Another friend  super burdened financially and medically yet they managed to move into a bigger home. Oh, did I mention her parent gifted them the house? Things aren’t always as they appear and there is usually that one bit of information that puts it into perspective.

Do we need to begrudge someone a new car? I’m kind of tired of Christian bumper stickers showing up on beater cars. Would love to see “My boss is a Jewish Carpenter” slapped onto the backside of a BMW or Mercedes. Well, then they’d get in trouble for buying a foreign car. But I digress.

Then there’s this thought. What if there were no logical or spiritual explanation to justify or defend a so-called extravagant expenditure? Gulp. What if they DID spend more then we thought reasonable? What if? How about SO WHAT? Is it really our business? Go deeper. Why don’t we want others to have or experience extravagance? What’s the problem with enjoying another’s good fortune? Is Romans 12:15 all that important?

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Saw your post on SCL and stopped over. Honestly, I couldn’t have said it any better myself. I was a full-time youth pastor in a small church for a few years and this question was certainly asked of me a few times. Not fun and I definitely wanted those people to just mind their own business. LOVE the post!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Lisa Price on April 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Preach on, sister, preach on! We’re all a little too caught up in what other people have or are doing; we need to spend more time in our own gardens, tending to the growth within.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Denise on April 16, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Amen, Joni!

    Reply

  4. I think it is the Christian with the elementary school level understanding of THEIR role in the Church Body who focuses on what leadership does with finances.

    Our (the sheep) role is to give our tithes, gifts and alms. Period. We don’t to get to form a committee and vote on what the set man of God does withe the finances that is collected in a local church. What leadership does with the finances they recieve from “the sheep” is completely accountable to God. And if you read Holy Scripture they will be held twice as accountable as a believer who is not in leadership.

    If you find yourself continually being annoyed by this or that in your local church, perhaps a time of fasting and prayer is in order to determine what the issue is. Church hopping is not the answer. Church hoppers just bring along their baggage to the next church.

    Reply

  5. My husband comes from a pastoral family. A comment often quoted was: “Pastor does not need to be the first to get a new car…but he shouldn’t have to be the last, either.”

    Reply

  6. thank you for this blog..by that i mean your site..we need this kind of honsety!!

    Reply

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