Our clime or society is not populated or inhabited by politicians only. That everyday, we talk and write about politicians. We also talk and write about Political leaders or Political office holders as if there are no other offices or positions people occupy as leaders. And because we talk or write about politics, politicians and political office holders on daily basis certain beings or other people now feel that they are in their comfort zones. They cover their own sins and talk about the perceived sins of Politicians or Political office holders. And that is the reason I have decided to deal with the caption above. And it is a question. Pastors or Priests doing two regular jobs and receiving Salaries from their respective Churches and also receiving Salaries from Institutions or establishments that engaged them, are they right or wrong?
I have made it a question so that the debate can take off from there. Yet, that won’t stop or debar me from Stating my own position or Contention. And in doing that, I won’t pretend about it. I am going to look at it from two dimensions. The biblical or scriptural angle and the contemporary or secular axis.
First, the Contemporary or Conventional or secular dimension. I won’t waste much time on this. I am only dealing with it for the sake of emphasis. The Scriptural angle is the main, the main. I will only scratch this secular angle on the surface and then navigate. To the best of my knowledge, most of the Churches like Assemblies of God where I belong are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Their Pastors usually attend the Compulsory training at its Bible College in Umuahia which is called the Divinity School or College. We call it Bible School. At the end of the training, they post the Pastors to Churches. I will talk about the issue of “Calling” when I will be handling the Scriptural dimension. If a Pastor is engaged or employed by a Church, and he receives salary and other allowances accruable, is that Pastor or Priest expected to take up another regular employment (even part-time) with salaries and allowances attached, in an Institution or establishment also registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission? The answer is No, to the best of my knowledge. No Civil Servant keeps too regular jobs. That one will be sacked if caught. You cannot be an employee of VanguardNewspapers with salary and at the same time an employee of Thisdayor Nation Newspaper also with salaries attached. If one does that, he will be arrested and prosecuted when caught. For me, any Pastor or Priest employed by a Church registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, and also with salary and allowances, and equally keeps another employment with an Institution or establishment or Company also registered with the Commission Collecting salary and allowances, is committing fraud. The person is fraudulent and greedy to a very large extent. And any Church or Institution condoling that, is abetting fraud. That is that.
Now the biblical or Scriptural angle. It could also be regarded as the Spiritual dimension. I had participated in a debate of this nature sometime ago. Someone said, there is nothing wrong with that because it would make the Pastor in question not to depend solely on the Church he Pastors for survival. This reasoning or logic is faulty and cannot stand the least scrutiny. A greedy Pastor is a greedy Pastor. And if what we are doing is a thing of the Spirit, then, such argument becomes belated. Reason being that, who God calls he equips. We go on. And the question is also whether there could be another motive behind an ordained Pastor or Priest in the employment of a Church doing another regular paid job, if not greed or appetite for “things of the world”.
In my own Church Assemblies of God, the popular question then and even now for anybody who wants to be Pastor is “akpuola gi oku” or have you been called? Which means that the Holy Spirit must certify that you are qualified to be engaged as a Pastor. And there must be also revelations to that effect. When you are really called, you must abandon whatever else you are doing to answer the call. That was the standard Jesus Christ himself set up. And the known and established standard of Assemblies of God. Still on the Scriptural or biblical axis.
Follow me closely. “And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee saw two brethren, Simeon called Peter and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him”. They never came back to fishery. We continue. “And going on from hence he saw two brethren James, the son of Zebedee and John his brother mending their nets and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-22). And they also never came back for their fishing business.
Still on course. “And as Jesus passed forth from hence, he saw a man named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom and he saith unto him, follow me. And he arose and followed him” (Matthew 9:9). He never came back to tax or custom vocation. In commissioning the twelve disciples, Jesus said “Provide neither gold nor silver nor brass in your purses” (Matthew 10:9). Indicating that the ministry is not all about comfort and leisure. I Timothy 3:2-7 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, No striker, Not greedy of filthy lucre, but patient, not brawler, not covetous, one that ruleth well his own house, not a novice …”. Though the issue here is bishop but for me, it is for every Pastor or Priest. A Pastor engaged in two paid jobs, one in the vineyard of the Lord and another, in secular terrain or enclave can be accused of covetousness, being greedy of filthy lucre, etal. In such setting too, can he be vigilant, sober, apt to teach, and so on? I do not think that the answer is in the positive.
In the appointment of Deacons, the early Pastors or apostles said “… It is not reasonable that we should leave the work of God, and serve tables” (Acts 6:2). A Pastor having another paid employment outside his calling as a priest has he not abandoned the word of God to serve tables? In the Assemblies of God I know, as a Child following my father closely, Pastors and their wives never thought about engaging in other paid jobs, not minding their meager income then. And the God they were serving never betrayed them or let them down. I do not know of now. A Pastor filled with the Holy Ghost, committed to his calling, who engages in prayer and fasting, evangelism, counseling of members, cannot conveniently take up another paid job outside his calling. Being a Pastor or Priest of a Church should it be a part-time deal? I do not think so. What is really the attraction to a priest who has another paid employment if not money and leisure?
Unfortunately, some of the Pastors today give much credence or lay emphasis on their degrees and they see the whole thing from the academic angle. And nobody tells them the truth. They use intimidation and blackmail as tools. Samuel had told Eli that what he was doing was wrong. Eli didn’t antagonize Samuel. Ditto, Nathan to David.
I know of some Pastors in Assemblies of God in Lagos who were in companies and they abandoned the lucrative jobs for the ministry. One was a major in the army. Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God was a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Lagos. He abandoned it and went into full- time ministry. David Oyadepo of the Winners Chapel was a management staff with the Federal Ministry of Housing in Ilorin. He abandoned it for a full-time ministry. I can go on and on to give instances.
If you now ask me, I would say that any Pastor or Priest engaged and paid by a Church, who also does another paid job as a staff in another establishment has stolen from both God and man. He needs repentance. And should also ask for forgiveness. Otherwise, he would end up in hell fire for deceit and fraud. Or for being deceitful. Either you are a Pastor of a Church or you are not. This is my own stand on the issue, while we Continue clapping for Jesus.
By: Sam Onwuemeodo