By Stan Adams
The scenario is familiar to many who preach the gospel. A group of preachers get together and eat and often the question of support comes up. One brother will lament the fact that he is struggling, and just doesn’t know how he will make it. Often the subject turns to all the “difficulties” one has with the community and with the “brethren.” Often those who preach forget that they are “the brethren” also.
I realize that not every preacher is supported as he should be, and that many are truly struggling. This should not be, and brethren should liberally support those who labor in the spread of truth. I also believe that many have legitimate difficulties, and that many Christians are not behaving themselves. But I would like for all of us to consider, whether we really are “suffering” as much as we imagine. It is time to say a word of thanks for those who have born the brunt of abuse, and have truly given of themselves, and sacrificed, to proclaim the precious word.
I believe that if most of us would be honest, we would realize and admit, that we have it better, financially, than those who have gone on before. Just a casual conversation with older gospel preachers, will reveal that many of them often preached for nothing, financially. In an age when many gospel preachers, seem to think of preaching as a career (in the same genre as promotions at the plant), I believe many need to consider just what preaching is about.
I am fortunate to be a preacher’s son, and consequently, to have been privy to conversations by many gospel preachers through the years. I can remember my father speaking of a time, when he and others were offered a deal by liberal brethren, if they would consider preaching it “their way.” He and others refused even though it meant financial burden. I also remember him speaking of a time when he was paid with chickens and squirrel meat. More than once he was paid with the “change” from the collection plate. Often he furnished rides to others who preached on appointment, and among all of them, they hardly made enough to meet expenses. When he started preaching, he received $35 per week. He could have made more money as a chemist and a musician, but he loved preaching. So did Mom and they were not going to quit, simply because the brethren were unable, or unwilling to pay better. We have lived in some places that might have been condemned, called preachers houses, but they were home to us, because they were filled with love. I know that Mom and Dad often made themselves sick, wondering where the money would come from to buy groceries, but it always seemed to be there. He was “docked” for any Sunday he was away, and often performed funerals at great distance for nothing. This was a time when brethren believed generally, that preachers ought to be willing to suffer, or they were not worth anything. It was a learning time.
I recall hearing Weldon Warnock, Connie Adams, C.D. Plum, Barney Keith, Tom Icard, Paul Casebolt, and a number of others, speak of similar circumstances. Recently, I learned that my brother-in-law, had a similar experience. Generally, this learning period is over and most gospel preachers are treated with respect and it is recognized that they must be able to feed their families, and it is not wrong for them to have a little of this world’s goods, also.
This has been made possible, because of a number of gospel preachers who have unselfishly stood, when it would have been easier to quit. They lost support for standing for Truth. Their wives and children stood with them, and realized that it was for righteousness they were suffering. This was a generation that did not view preaching as a “professional position,” with steps. They went where they were needed most, and preached the same way everywhere without fear of any man. Their bellies may have been empty, but there hearts were on fire for Truth.
I do not believe that it is wrong, to recognize these faithful soldiers and to say a much overdue thank-you to them for their faith and their inspiration. To those of this generation, let us take note of those who have refused to compromise principles for a chance to preach at a “super” location. Let’s view preaching as a blessing and quit complaining over our sad plight. We have it great comparatively.
To those who are struggling, our hearts are with you, and we say for you to get the word out to faithful brethren who are willing to faithfully support sound preaching.
To congregations who are forever waiting for the “roof to fall in,” and have several thousand dollars in the bank, while good preaching brethren are hurting for lack of support, have some faith, and support the preaching of the gospel. So what if you have a big account balance. If the roof really fell in, or the air conditioner really broke, don’t you think that the average member, would “chip in” a little more to take care of that need? Why do we pay insurance premiums?
Spiritual Israel has unlimited potential and resources. If we set our minds to it we could really spread the gospel throughout the world. The men are in position, the fields are white, and we live in a prosperous time when brethren have sympathetic attitudes toward preachers. The only thing holding us back is ourselves, and our own lack of zeal. We should be willing to spend every dime for the spread of the gospel. Let’s not be covetous with God’s resources.
Again to those who have made it a little easier to preach the gospel, “Thank you.” To faithful preachers wives, who have stood by their husbands through very lean times, thank you for your inspiration. To families of preachers who have done without, so that brethren can be more spiritual, thank you, also. May we all love the Lord with the same intensity as these, and never let financial setbacks deter us from our course.
How beautiful are the feet of those who peach the gospel (Rom. 10:15).
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 18, pp. 563, 567
September 21, 1989