Acts 20:33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.
The first Sunday in July, 1992, I received my first salary for being a Pastor. It was full of change within a bank money bag and it came to £95 exactly, once the copper coins had been counted. I was so grateful. I did suggest that from then on we should move to a banking system for further payments.
Those early years of ministry for me were exciting ones as I trusted God for the finances that I needed for the family. One thing I have always done is given at least 10% of my income to God through the Church.
January 17th 1980 at 10.35am was my claim to fame. I was 14 years of age and my whole Grammar school were watching a BBC programme called ‘The Sally Ann’. It was about my brother Neil having made a commitment to fully embrace The Salvation Army promises. (I knew he would never fulfil his promises as he actually stated on the programme that his vision for life was to be a millionaire which we are all still waiting for him to become).
Here is what the link says: “10.35 Scene: The Sally Ann
When they sign their ‘ Articles of War’ Salvation Army soldiers promise never to drink, smoke or gamble. Young Salvationists LESLEY DENT and NEIL HUDSON say what the Army means to them today. Produced by JOHN CHAPPLE”
Anyway back to my claim to fame on the said programme. It is probably about 10 seconds worth of me doing a mathematical equation of my pocket money divided by a tenth so that I could give the amount to God. With the use of real life coins my script was “75 pence divided by 10 is 7.5 pence to God”. My Maths teacher was very impressed. The school pupils thought it was hilarious, all 500 of them.
I am sure we have all read about the financial lifestyle of John Wesley:
In 1731 Wesley began to limit his expenses so he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one year his income was £30, and his living expenses £28, so he had £2 to give away. The next year, his income doubled, but he still lived on £28 and gave £32 away. In the third year, his income jumped to £90; again he lived on £28, giving £62 away. The fourth year, he made £120, lived again on £28, and gave £92 to the poor.
Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, America’s 8th largest Church lives on 10 percent of his income and donates the rest to charity. “I drive a 12-year-old Ford, have lived in the same house for the last 22 years, bought my watch at Wal-Mart, and I don’t own a boat or a jet.”.
I am not trying to link myself with John Wesley or Rick Warren! But I have understood the need to put God first in my finances from an early age. I have also understood all my life that the desire of riches and material things is not conducive to a life of ministry.
Paul is saying to the Ephesian elders: “I had no desire for anyone’s silver or gold or [expensive] clothes” (Amplified).
Jesus said he had no place to lay his head. We all want an open heaven. Out of that open heaven we want everything we can possibly get, a blessing of finance, promotion, this and that. When Jesus experienced an open heaven as he was standing in the Jordan being baptised he received a bird. We all want to be like Jesus but maybe if all we got was a bird perhaps we would be disappointed!
I am concerned today when I see Pastors with a desire for riches. It just doesn’t sit comfortably. It looks ugly. I don’t want to see Pastors poor but I don’t want Pastors longing and desiring anything other than God.
Today let us surrender our all to Jesus, including our finances.