Deuteronomy 18:1-2 The priests, who are Levites—indeed the whole tribe of Levi—are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the offerings made to the Lord by fire, for that is their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance, as he promised them.
Because there is no hereditary priesthood under the New Covenant, the whole matter of the support of those who abandon other occupations to serve God and His people becomes somewhat more complicated. Even though Paul himself was largely self-supporting, he still affirmed the principle expressed here, that full time ministers were to be supported by the offerings given to God. (1 Corinthians 9:3-14, 1 Timothy 5:17-18) That said, the motive of the minister must be ministry, to God and to His people. There were people in seminary with me who looked at being a pastor as an easy way to collect a salary! In actual fact, as I have told people many times, this is one job you had better never attempt without instructions from God to do so! Because it doesn’t look like most other jobs, people both in the ministry and out of it often fail to understand it. The focus is on being between God and people, and that has tensions in both directions. Any minister who doesn’t have an active worship and devotional life is headed for ruin. Sadly, such are not unusual. The pastor may not be musical, but not entering the sanctuary until time for the sermon, skipping the praise and worship time, is a total travesty. The pastor should be the chief worshiper! Not having musical skills is no excuse to fail to offer yourself to God and acknowledge Him in the assembly. Likewise, any minister who doesn’t have an active devotional life is deceiving himself and running on empty. The work of the Lord cannot be done apart from the strength and guidance of the Lord, and that must be sought at least daily, before attempting anything else. When someone fulfills those conditions, drawing close to God so that they may assist others in drawing close to Him, then they are worthy of support from the offerings given to God, just as the Levites were.
This is very much a family tradition for me. Not only were my parents missionaries, one grandfather was a pastor and the other a seminary professor and frequent interim pastor. I didn’t grow up with the feeling of “working for a salary,” but rather of serving God and trusting Him for supply. Since arriving in Omura in 1981 I have never received as much from the church I serve as I have given to it in offerings, but God has been more than faithful. Far more than my own livelihood, I am concerned for my assistant pastor, who is likewise a “tent maker.” I am able to teach medical English on the college level, which pays very well, but he has no such specialized skills. I want this church to grow for many reasons, but one of them is so that they can pay him a decent salary! God’s plans are good and I am not to be anxious. When He has provided for me, He will provide for others who serve Him as well.
Father, this is a very practical issue that sometimes doesn’t feel very “spiritual.” Thank You that Jesus talked more about money than He did about heaven! Help me have the attitude You desire about all such things, receiving Your supply and making the use of it that You intend, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!