Editor’s Note: This is an opinion column.
By Michael J. Brooks
Many churches near interstate highways have funds set aside for stranded travelers. An area convenience store lets our church maintain an account and honors the vouchers we sometimes give to travelers. But I was surprised last week when an employee called and said they couldn’t help the lady we just sent to them.
“You have a large bill,” she said. “We’ve called you to come and pay it. We can’t extend your credit today.”
I tried to be sweet but responded forthrightly that no one had called.
“Give me an hour, and I’ll be there,” I pleaded. The employee agreed.
When I arrived, the manager met me and apologized.
“It wasn’t you,” she said. “It was another church, and we thought it was you who hadn’t paid in a while.”
Now, no disrespect intended to our sister church. I’m sure they honored their obligation as soon as they were contacted. As must we all.
The Apostle Paul exhorted Christians not to be “slothful” in business affairs (Romans 12:11). Churches and church members must pay what they owe as a spiritual responsibility.
One in the church youth group I grew up with enrolled at a large university. An organization he was a member of wished to bring in a well-known evangelist for a campus event. They talked with a few community business owners about sponsoring but got nowhere. They learned the evangelist had been a student at the university years before, started a business, and left town owing money. What a terrible example he became.
I remember a boyhood pastor who sometimes spoke from the pulpit about how he struggled financially. It was embarrassing for the church, and he should’ve been embarrassed to talk about this. My mother had a talk with me after I committed to vocational ministry.
“Don’t you ever say anything like that when you preach!” she warned me.
A pastor mentor told me to have a “pocketbook-to-pocketbook” talk with the personnel or finance team once a year, privately, and then don’t say anything more about my personal finance.
Another mentor cautioned me about ministerial discounts.
“If a business offers you a discount, take it and be grateful,” he said. “But don’t ever let me hear you asking for a discount!”
I was in a local business recently. The clerk asked me if I was eligible for a senior discount. I asked how she knew this, and she only smiled. I suppose at this stage, it’s fine to ask for a senior discount, but never a ministerial discount!
Every Christian must wisely manage money, pay debts on time and give a worthy portion of their income to God’s work through his church.
“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.