Pastors: getting paid for what?

The work of a pastor is unlike any other occupation.

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(Photo: iStock)

We often hear church members ask, “What are pastors getting paid for?” In other words, what are the things that pastors do that earn them the right to be paid the way an ordinary worker does?

The view is that pastors don’t exactly work eight hours a day all week, except maybe on Sabbath. They don’t sign in on a time sheet at 8am and they don’t sign off at 5pm. Nobody knows what they’re doing. So what are they are getting paid for?

This question highlights the misunderstandings of some in our congregations that have a negative influence on the pastor and the Church as a whole. 

"They are getting paid for not getting paid enough in view of the complexities of their ministry."

I believe the work of a pastor or a minister cannot honestly be assessed, appraised or evaluated to produce a monetary figure. In other words one cannot put a cost or a price tag or hourly pay rate on ministerial responsibilities. In a similar way that a court may award damages for non-financial losses, pastors provide non-financial benefits.

So what are they getting paid for?

  • The suffering and pain they go through with each church member as they sympathise with them in times of sorrow and adversity.
  • For comforting the downtrodden, the weak and the outcast.
  • For directing and setting the plan for the church.
  • For their counselling service and advice to those in trouble and those who need a sense of direction.
  • For building up marriages and families in the church.
  • For conducting and solemnising marriages.
  • To say the last prayers with someone on their deathbed.
  • For conducting funeral services and providing moral and spiritual comfort to the relatives and families of the deceased.
  • For helping, praying and guiding young people in the church.
  • For trying to find solutions in a divided church.
  • For influencing the church and the society for good.
  • For teaching, advising and correcting people in the way of the Lord.
  • For every comforting sermon to the members.
  • For every sharp-pointed sermon to convince and convict people of their sins, which some don’t like to hear.
  • For visitation, even to those who don’t like to be visited.
  • For walking and travelling a lot, and working odd hours.
  • For the extra activities they perform to build rapport and bridges in the village and the community.
  • For their prayers on behalf of others, the society and the nations.
  • For neglecting their own families while supporting the families of others.
  • Sometimes being alienated from their immediate relatives, villages and communities for the sake of the truth they profess and the call they undertook.
  • For any future lonely and challenging circumstances they will sometimes go through when they retire from active ministry, especially if they don’t have any savings for retirement or any backup plan.
  • All the criticism they receive from those who disagree or dislike them.
  • Being character references in an application form, even for those who don’t normally attend church or engage in church activities.
  • For organising aid and relief work in times of disasters and adversities.
  • Their personal Bible study and intercessory prayers for others.
  • For conducting evangelism and helping someone find salvation in Jesus.
  • For being persecuted for the truth they proclaim.
  • For helping Jesus in this great controversy and fight against Satan.
  • For being satisfied and trusting the promises that “Jesus will supply all my needs” .

They are getting paid for not getting paid enough in view of the complexities of their ministry.

These things are worth more than money can afford and I only hope that our members now know the answer.


Waisake Raiubi is a pastor on Nauru.

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