My title may seem a bit strange because the answer is of course a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ should live by faith. I bring up this question because I have noticed in the past two years corresponding with all you, there is a dangerous concept still being in practice that start back in the days of Paul the Apostle, of which God is not in favor of. The concept is when a person surrenders to the call of God as a minister they are to stop working and live only by what they can get through donations and love offerings. While there is a precedent in the scriptures for ministers and pastors to have their needs meet by the churches and ministries they work for, in most cases throughout history churches and ministry did not have the means to care for those who are doing the work. The Apostle Paul said told the Philippians that at one time they were the only ones caring for his needs (Philippians 4:14-16).
I have work in ministry for 48 years and I lived on ministry money only six year total because the churches or ministries I have been in could not care for my needs. There was just not enough coming in to pay me for my work. So I work other jobs while building ministry. In the past twenty years that I have been building Bless Ministries God would not let me work in other jobs. The covenant he made with me in December 1997 he commanded me not to work. Here is the covenant God made with me:
The Word of the Lord came to me saying, “I am the God of your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have begotten you and I have raised you up. This day I enter into covenant with you. You will never be servant to a job, a church, a congregation, or another man again. Serve me and me alone. I will take care of you for the rest of your life. I will provide everything you will ever need, only choose to serve me alone.”
Now unless God has told you something like this, you should never stop working to provide for you and your family. If God has told you something like this, then by all means you should follow it, and He will make your way sure. In the past twenty years God has provided for me in ways that most people do not get provisions, but that is because He coveted with me to do what I am presently doing.
The Minister of God
In Matthew 20:20-24 the mother of John and James approached Jesus and asked him to place her sons on the right and left of him when he sits up his kingdom. Jesus assured her that she did not understand what she was asking and it disturbed the other disciples that she would ask such a question. The answer Jesus gave was probably not what they expected:
Matthew 20:25-28 [KJV]
25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Instead of agreeing to place anyone on his left or right, Jesus teaches them it is not that a person should be served or ministered to but that he expects his disciples to be the servant and the minister to everyone else. The only thing people had ever witnessed about rulers and leaders of any country or power since the beginning of time, was that rulers and people in authority had servants and they were ministered to by those servants. Jesus changed everything in that moment for those who would choose to be his disciples.
If you want to be a servant of God you must become a servant to people, not be served to by people.
If you want to be a minister of God you must become a minister to people, not be ministered to by people.
The words minister/ministered, servant/serve in these verses are all the same Greek word. . .diakonos. The reason for the above quote being from the King James Version was to show how Jesus used only the one Greek word but translators used both servant/serve and minister/ministered at different times to justify their concepts of service in the kingdom of God.
There is no difference between a minister and a servant if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was teaching about the kingdom of heaven in Matthew Chapters 24 and 25, he shared when he would come judging the nations and he will separate some people as sheep and others as goats (Matthew 25:31-45). He will condemn those who are goats and reward those who are sheep. We know the sheep are his disciples that truly follow him (John 10:27-28). In this teaching Jesus shows the true purpose for one who ministers as his disciple when he replies to the righteous that "inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me". This is the heart of one who chooses to be a minister of Jesus Christ.
In verse 44 the unrighteous ask, when did we not minister unto you? The word minister here is the same Greek word diakonos. . .meaning minister or servant. . .one who renders service unto another. They were asking when did we not minister unto you; when did we not serve you? Of course the answer was when they did not do those things unto the Lord.
A minister is a person who renders service unto another as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
This can be many things in the kingdom of heaven, not just pastors or preachers. A minister is anyone who chooses to reach out to give service and love through their talents and giftings as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Minister for the Right Reasons
It is so important that those who wish to be ministers, not waist their ministry, but work for the good of all people, showing yourself to be loving in the nature of Jesus Christ. People see a person that is successful in ministry and they desire to be that way so they too can do and have the same types of success and still work in the kingdom of God. What they might not understand is the challenges this successful minister has endured to get where they are.
No one should ever desire to be a minister for the sake of having a certain lifestyle or obtaining personal things. This approach will only lead to selfishness and greed. The attitude Jesus was trying to avoid of rulers and leaders when he was teaching in Matthew 25:31-45 is exactly why we should not desire to be a minister so we can be in some level of success or position in the church. Different religious orders have built up this misleading concept through the centuries.
Pastors, if they are a true pastors to the people, will be serving the people and not making themselves positions of power and rulership over their congregations. The same is true for ministers that are not pastors; they should be ministering and serving their communities, not working to make people think they deserve something because they are ministers. Too often today pastors and ministers think they deserve donations or other things because they are in ministry. This is not true. Most ministers today spend more time asking for donations or other things to meet their needs than they do ministering to the needs of the people they are there to serve. These type ministers will expect other ministries to help them when asked simply because they are in ministry.
You do not deserve to be given something because you asked for it; and you should not be asking for things but giving things. Plant seeds of giving and God will harvest you with showers of blessings.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Pastors, Ministers and Servants of the Kingdom of God should not give up working jobs that take care of their financial needs simply because they have become ministers. This is a practice that is done by so many today; quitting their jobs and start ministering without the leadership of God. If the Lord has told you to stop working on other jobs that has sustained your income, then by all means follow the Lord. But if he has not told you to stop working, you should continue working to finance yourself and your family. Throughout the history of the Church most pastors and ministers who are doing the work of God, has had to have side jobs to help maintain a living for themselves and their family while building their ministry. The Apostle Paul did this when it was necessary. Look at Acts 18:3,
If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tent makers. This same thing was happening among the Thessalonians so Paul reminded them in 2Thessalonians 3:6-10 when he was with them his team did not make demands for anyone to care for them but the team worked to care for themselves. He went on to say, “
This is a very dangerous concept that has been taught through the centuries for ministers to not work, but live by faith and God will supply their every need.
God will supply every need if He has told them not to work, or if they are working in a ministry that is capable of paying them enough to live on. Once your ministry is large enough to sustain you through the offerings and donations, then you can stop your secular jobs and work full time in ministry.
It is not the responsibility of believers to make sure you are full time in ministry. It is up to you to be responsible and care for the needs of yourself and your family while building. When pastors and ministers fly off and do ministry without caring for their families it leaves your spouse and children thinking you do not care for them and it sets a bad precedent that will result in your family not liking the ministry. By embracing these things and working to provide does not suggest or mean that you are not living by faith, but it is saying even more that you ARE living by faith, as you are being patient for the Lord to make your provisions through ministry. He gives you favor to find work that will compliment your ministry as you build it up. Let ministry take care of you as God makes the provision will allow everyone to benefit from the work you are doing.