Why is it assumed that when a preacher is wealthy that his wealth is acquired from the flock? Many pastors and ministers do well for themselves without having to bleed the people to which they minister. Their gifts and talents, their personal ventures (real estate, writing, financial advisors, computer expertise) have caused them to prosper. Why not?
After all, when we watch the NBA playoffs, we never once denounce Kobe or D. Wade for their wealth. We even applaud them when the amounts of their contracts are announced. We have never thrown cans and tomatoes at an R&B or Country Music star, even when we read the news that they have wrecked their priceless Lamborghini or had a domestic dispute at their palatial mansion. By the way, do we know how many politicians are millionaires? Too many, if you ask me.
The reason we vilify the rich preacher has nothing to do with their means or payment. It has all to do with perception. We secretly have the vision of the suffering preacher etched into the back of our minds by stories and folklore of the downtrodden Christian and the man who struggles against the vices of this world to proclaim the Gospel with a pure heart. The Catholic Church has had its role in our image as well. We see the priest has to give up all his possessions and take a vow of poverty. No money, no possessions, no sex (you see how that works out, right?). The preacher has to be poor because we are and if he’s not, he’s bilking the church.
We also read the open letters and hear the vindictive testimonies of the embittered church member who was suffering on the brink of poverty as the preacher drove by in their Rolls Royce. Many of these tales are true. There are wolves among us that rape the flock. Some but not all.
Truth is, the scum always rises to the top. The bad kid in your class always got most of the attention. Everyone knew his/her name and they established a reputation for themselves. Sometimes they marred the reputation of the classroom with their antics. It’s the same way with crooked preachers, they have ruined the image of the pulpit for the rest of us. Might I add that shows like Ben Tankard’s and “Preachers of L.A.” don’t do much to preserve our reputation either.
Simply said, . I don’t want to be consumed by the lust for filthy lucre, but I don’t want to be the suffering preacher either. I think I can find a happy balance for ministry. Not all preachers are crooks. All well-to-do ministers have not gained their wealth on the backs of the parishioners. I pray that those who are wrong are exposed, those that have pure intentions are brought to the forefront to expand the Kingdom and that the world’s perception of the preacher is not tainted to the point where we are ineffective