Faith, by Arthur Hughes. (1832-1915)
This is the subject today, which will be answered. You probably know some of the things I will say, and why. It is a question that appears often on my search area.
As usual, this is my opinion based on experience, observation, Bible study and the testimonies from other women.
Preachers of the past considered the ministry a career, just like any other job, and as such, made certain to raise sufficient funds in order to support their families and pay for their cost of the work they provided. As it was back then, preachers must have the money to provide for the house and the family.
As in any job in the self-employment category, be it a house-builder, private truck-driver, farmer, piano teacher, personal accountant or anything else, there are supplies and expenses involved. In addition to the family support, preachers must have a working fund to provide the supplies they need.
If you marry a man who is already a preacher, he is probably supporting himself, and if he is not able to do that with preaching, he may have other jobs on the side.
The woman who marries into the ministry understands she will not be married to a very rich man, and adjusts as best she can when she believes she should be home and really wants to fulfill that role in a natural way. She knows beforehand of her husband's career choice and can make plans to adjust to it. When he begins his preaching career at the start of the marriage, it allows the family to mold to meet the financial challenges.
Painting by Victor Gabriel Gilbert, French 1847-1943
There is another problem, however, when a woman marries a man who has a regular job with a decent wage, and then later in the marriage he decides to give up secular employment for a lower pay job in ministry, or even a no-pay job in ministry. The family has adjusted to the income the husband provides, and when he becomes a minister, this changes drastically and can cause a lot of problems.
A decision like this should be weighed carefully if it puts the wife at risk of having to give up her home and children while she goes out to work full-time to support her husband. There is nothing in the Bible that says a woman should be the provider when her husband chooses to go into a low, or no-paying ministry. Therefore, he has the duty to make sure that he can raise or find a source of income, before he disturbs his home life by making the woman be the provider.
In a previous post I wrote, "Should Christian Husbands Send Their Wives to Work?" (the most popular post next to "How to Adjust a Sewing Pattern" (which amuses me even though the two are not really that far apart), it shows scriptures such as Titus 2 and First Timothy 5:14 which give women at home the wonderful opportunity to be busy and pursue the important things of the home and family. The posts tells why a man cannot contradict scripture to fulfill his own "calling" or ambition.
These days I have heard of all kinds of preposterous things being called ministry, such as beating the drums in a band, ballet dancing, oil painting, singing performances and entertainment, all which require a substantial income to conduct full-time.
It is interesting how many times people will call something a ministry while violating the very reason for the ministry. If the scriptures are our guide, then no ministry should be taken up in contradiction to other scriptures. I doubt you can find any of these talents being used as paid ministries in the Bible. Preachers were paid, and maybe Dorcas was given donations when she sewed for the poor (we do not know), but ministry was understood to be the preaching of the Gospel for the conversion of souls to Christ. Most of the new "ministries" I hear about are not like this at all, nor is anyone hardly persuaded to obey the gospel.
The above list is quite a bit different from ministries like food distribution (Gleaners), providing housing and shelter (Shelters and local Missions) and feeding the homeless (Soup Kitchen).
The soup kitchens, shelters and gleaners are places where volunteers donate their time while keeping their regular jobs. Financial donations from people will pay for the food and shelter. Individuals or families who want to minister full-time in them, will have a pension to live on or are supported by another job. Homemakers sometimes contribute portions of their time to these ministries. These things do not require personal artistic talent or skill
as much as personal sacrifice, time, donation of products, or money.
On the other hand, a man who is in a music or entertainment ministry serves a different purpose that is not as desperate as described in the previous paragraph. It is not even as desperate as the service a preacher provides. It is something else, completely. A music ministry, for example, fulfills the person with musical talent while sharing it with others. The only difference between someone who wants to do it for a church and someone who wants to do it for the public, is the way the money is earned. The one who does it for ministry expects to be supported on church funds, like a preacher does.
Many preachers I know who serve small congregations raise their own support, by sending out a "support letter." They contact all their friends, fellow church members in other places, and relatives, and ask for monthly support to be sent. They raise this support in order to pay their bills and stay in the ministry, and allow their wives to continue to be full time homemakers. This is a wise way to make provision for the family when a small church cannot fully provide a monthly salary.
If a man whose wife is home is insisting she "go to work" to support his ministry, he is not following the way the prophets and apostles were supported. There is no evidence their wives became the breadwinners to enable their husbands to be ministry. These preachers lived on the support of the congregations and individual Christians they ministered to and served. Although women could donate to the support of a preacher, there is nothing in scripture to show wives going to work so the husbands could preach.
Booker T. Washington, who began Tuskegee Institute (b.1856, d.1915) wrote that he was disappointed in the men who wanted to become preachers. He said too many of them were just doing it because they thought preachers lived an easier life and did not have to work. The preaching was harder because there was very little pay. The salary then had to be raised, which was another full-time job going around talking to people and soliciting their donations. After gathering support for a year, a man had to then go on another fund-raising tour to reinforce the previous support, a trip which took more time away from his ministry. Booker T. Washington advised them to get some training in a skill so they could provide for themselves if they went into ministry.
Booker T. Washington
Today it is the same. When a preacher raises support, he can then devote time to teaching, preaching, visitation, weddings, funerals and such, but he has to take time out to revive his supporter's interest in supporting him. He has to send out newsletters of his progress in the local church . Sometimes his supporters will want to come and check him out, stay a few weeks and visit to discern his needs.
This seems like a lot of trouble but in any self-employment, there is a certain amount of the same activity. The man who owns his own business will have to keep investors interested, erstwhile actually doing the job he likes. It is certainly more trouble than having a secular job that guarantees a certain wage, which I think is brilliant and very Biblical. But raising support or getting the local congregation to support a man in ministry is far more noble than insisting the wife provide the living so the husband can be a minister.
If a man cannot provide for his own in ministry, he should wait until he is retired and has a pension to live on. If he does not want to burden a small church to provide him a salary, he should raise support. If he is working in a large church, he should insist on a normal wage if they can provide it, but he should not look at his wife as a resource for funds for the following reason:
*It puts more stress on the wife, which will bring more uneasiness and stress into the home.
*It turns the woman's focus away from the home and on to making money. At the end of the day, the real emotional support she should be giving to her husband and the praises and admiration he needs from her, will not always be available. Her emotions and her time will be "spent."
*It contradicts God's command for women in the church to be busy at home. (See Titus 2 and 1st Timothy 5:14. Also, look at New Testament examples where the evangelists worked as tent makers or other things to provide for themselves, or gathered money from churches for their travels.
*Instead of developing the soft, feminine personality that comes from being a relaxed and happy keeper at home, the wife who is sent to work against her will and against her religious convictions, may form a caustic, snappish, hard-edged personality, impatient with her family. Denied the leisurely time it takes to really manage a home with thought, and unable to concentrate on her housework, she may begin to hate the house and hate housework. As she goes to work each day and fights the world, she loses her femininity. In the previous post is a link to a radio broadcast where my guest explains how little attention can be paid to detail at home when there are other demands on a woman's time. She shares how going to work hampered her ability to care for her home in the way she really needed to.
*The husband cannot and should not hold his head up in society or in church or the family if he has required his wife to go to work outside the home to support him. Unless his back is broken or he has severe brain damage, he should not expect this. God made a man to work and be a provider for several reasons. Some which I can think of are: It builds him as a man--increases his masculinity, and it gives him personal dignity. It also gives the wife a feeling of security and well-being so she can more naturally attend to home living and giving the house a wonderful atmosphere.
*If he is in ministry but his wife is in business to support him financially, there is less chance she can have the time and energy to provide the social life and hospitality in her home that is so necessary for ministers. As a preacher's wife, I have always had to keep this in mind. Keeping the house ready to receive visitors is part of supporting your husband's ministry. If you are out working, you will always be pressed for time, and your interest in having company will diminish.
*A minister who sends his wife to work is contradicting the Word of God he claims to be ministering, in order to gain his position. I do not even believe the wives should get jobs when the husbands are in preacher's colleges. If a man wants to go to college to study preaching, he should raise his support first, and then enroll. A woman can be a housewife in every stage of life if she is determined to do that, but a man must support her role, as well. As Mr. Knightly told Emma, "I cannot have my happiness while destroying your Father's happiness," a man would be wise to realize he cannot fulfill his dream of being a minister while destroying his wife's dream of being a keeper at home.
*Regarding the lame excuse that being a "helpmate" means to help her husband by providing the money: This only applies in helping him to determine how to manage the money and wise ways to use it. Too many ministers are using the helpmate-clause of the Bible as leverage to send their wives to work.
*Sending his wife to work may cause them to "lose" their children. Though they may grow up in the home, they suffer a spiritual and mental detachment from the values of their parents when a mother is not home because she is supporting the father's ministry. A father in ministry is hard enough (he will often be absent from the home while helping others), but losing their mother from the home during the most impressionable years is worse. When a man goes into ministry, he should make provision for the family and make sure it will not cause a lot of upheaval in family life or in the marriage.
It is different when the children are grown and the older couple decide to take the retirement and go into ministry. In this case, neither one of them will have to get a secular job, and both are free to aid the church without asking for money. However, men need to consider the consequences of sending their wives to work, whether for ministry or not. It can affect the woman so deeply that it will put her emotions off-kilter. It can affect the children, as well. The bonds of the family are developed in the home, and these bonds are too casually broken when money becomes more important than the home life.
All that being said, the Bible states that a laborer is worthy of his hire, and that the ox should not be prevented from eating while treading out the grain. A man in ministry should make sure he can get a living from it and not expect to provide it "for free" and then send his wife to work to provide for it. The money should come from the church he serves or from personal support he has raised. He can use his own investments, or an income from a retirement fund, but he should not use his wife as a support source for a life he has chosen. She can support him in many other ways, through providing hospitality to others and spiritual encouragement to him.
While discussing the aforementioned reasons, an objection invariably arises that a man's profession should always be given priority. To that, I say that a man's family should come first, even before his business, but to the modern mind it is interpreted as saying he should quit work and stay home with his children. On the contrary, he should choose work and be able to support his family financially, but not choose a work that will destroy the loyalty and trust of his family. If he chooses a ministry and requires his wife to get a wage, his children will lose respect for him, and for her, as neither parent will have time for the children or the home. Ministry has to be monitored carefully, too, so that it does not absorb all of a man's time, and so that he will not "lose" his own children while trying to save the souls of others.
There are also the usual arguments about ministry being first; in other words, a man's devotion to the Lord will always come before anything else, but obviously, if a man really loves the Lord and knows he will be accountable to Him all his life and at the end of it, he will take care of his family first and not use ministry as an excuse to quit earning a living. Your family is the greatest and most neglected mission field and your marriage and children are your first ministry. If ministry harms the family, it is not really preaching the truth.
A man is not really serving God Biblically when he puts his wife in conflict with Titus 2 and the keepers at home scriptures. He is neglecting his most important ministry of providing for his family when he pressures his wife to get a job or spend a lot of time at home trying to make money. That does not mean she is totally forbidden to find ways to make money, but it must not become first in her life.
As the Bible says, two are better than one, and if you as a wife are being challenged and confused by a man who is using ministry as a reason to send you to work (or, in reality, a second job), then you need to make sure of some things before he goes in to ministry. A wife is supposed to be a good helpmate; that is, to be a helper to her husband. And to do so, you must become a good counselor and adviser and be able to see danger ahead, like the ship's captain's first mate. The first mate will not take over the ship unless the captain is gone, but he will help the captain succeed in his own job. A man's first job is to provide for his family. You must insist he raise a family support fund and a working fund before he quits his job. If he is already in ministry and pressuring you to work, he should show you that he, too, is willing to go work at a second job to support his ministry. It is responsibility to replace his income with either a part-time job or raised support, and not depend on the wife being the provider.