I can’t remember when I first made the decision, but for more than 20 years, I have not known what I was paid. I told the elders at New Song Church and the elders of Trinity Church that I didn’t want to know what I was paid.
My wife handles our finances. I never look at checks. I don’t look at the church budget and the salaries we pay our pastors. I often fight for salary increases for other pastors without knowing what they are paid. I don’t even look at our taxes to see what I was paid.
My philosophy has been that I don’t work for the church, I work for Christ. I serve Christ first and the church second. I will trust Christ to work through the elders to treat my family (while at New Song), and my wife and I (now that we are empty-nesters) in a way that honors Christ and the labor he has gifted me to do. Being a pastor is a privilege and I have been honored to serve two (now three) wonderful bodies of believers.
Not knowing has been a way to protect my soul from greed. It has been a way to cultivate dependence on God. And it has helped me to develop trust in the men among whom I have been called to serve. Each year, by the grace of God, we have been able to give away more dollars (according to my wife) than the year before. It has been an adventure.
I will go to my grave not knowing what my salary is.
That’s why when I read this article/interview with John Piper my heart sang with the wisdom shared. I recommend it not only for pastors but for congregations because the wisdom Dr. Piper shares is appropriate for all families no matter what your income or vocation.
Here’s the link to Piper on Pastor’s Pay.