Paul the Apostle wrote to his fellow Minister these words as recorded in 1 Timothy 4:
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Apostle Peter wrote something similar in 1 Peter 5:
I appeal to you to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve. Do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care, but be examples to the flock.
Notice the similar messages where the Apostles reminded the Ministers and Church leaders to be an example to the people in pretty much every facet for their duty?
I write this with much sadness because what has been developing in the last few years, as many have been testifying, that there are (not all) but more and more Ministers and evangelical workers who are abusing their position or their power. Some have become tyrannical in their method, bullying those who they feel are not “fully united” with the current Administration. When did it become the norm to simply “ignore” as the standard reply to brethren? Are they no longer required to give sufficient replies? What is even sadder is that many brethren are AFRAID of asking anything for fear of being “branded” or “marked” as one of the rebellious ones or worse, NOT ONE with EVM. (Gasp! The heresy!). And for those who are considered “One”, they are the ones they depend on to “help” with the Special Offerings, the Setting Aside for Thanksgiving Offerings as well as bringing the most visitors. (Pressure is on!)
Then there are also those who use their seat of authority to get MATERIAL things. Even if they are assigned in congregations that have brethren that are generous and affluent, this is no reason for Ministers to abuse their position.
What is sad is that there are some writers online, who are ENDORSED by the Administration who, instead of being understanding of the brethren who are already crying out of abuse by their Minister – are rebuked for speaking. The specific examples I am referring to are the brethren who spoke up that their Minister always wants to eat out (to have sushi) and the other Minister who gets the brethren to pay for his taxi ride.
Instead of being understanding, advising and edifying the brethren, they criticise them and accuse them of being offended or trying to create division. They suggested, why not report them? To whom, dare I ask? To the Church Administration? To the Council ? What if they are more guilty of doing the very similar things? Then they will pretend like they are shocked as if these things do not happen? Come on. Let’s be honest and be grown up now. Yes there are many issues going on right now in the Church, some are true and some are inaccurate but many brethren all over the world are well aware that there are more and more Ministers who abuse their position. Either that, or the brethren are so used to it that they have accepted it as a normal part of life.
After Worship Service, what is expected? Outside the Philippines, is there not that “courtesy” meal? You take the Minister out to that fine restaurant . (Oftentimes complete with their family members) If they are quite comfortable with the brethren, (or thick-skinned) they will even blurt out his choice.
Is there not that courtesy farewell “secret” handshake? Which one? You know, the one where the Head Deacon(s) and/or some of the more generous brethren will shake the hand of the Minister who preached and thus passing off the mighty American dollar, which goes smoothly into the pocket? I am not saying all are doing this. But when was the last time one refused?
Or even worse in the Philippines, when the District Minister, lovingly coded as “01”, comes to visit, the Resident Minister, who wishes to be on the “01’s” good graces, will “talk” to certain well off and trusted brethren to “donate” cash and/or in kind. The cash is collected by the Resident Pastor which, after the lesson, he then slips to the District Minister with that approving nod and smile. Brethren may then load his new SUV with the sacks of rice and assorted goodies.
NO? Is this just all fantasy? Oh come now. Be honest. You all know how the game is played. Who wouldn’t want to make their “01” happy when they leave your locale? What is sad, is that most Ministers do not realise that once they get in their vehicles, the brethren wave, turn, roll their eyes and breathe a sigh of relief that they are finally gone.
I am sure by now that there are several readers who are thinking I am just trying to stir up trouble – that I am trying to create a bad image of the Ministers. Let’s put it this way, if these are not true, that NONE of them are doing this, then there is no problem, correct? If your Minister does not ask you for a new mobile phone, or indicate that they are hungry, or announce to the officers that it is his or his family member’s birthday (hint-hint), if these things are not done, then there is no problem, correct? But, the hard truth is, this happens on a weekly basis in many many congregations. Again, there are the older Ministers who still do not degrade the Ministry, but the newer ones? Well… you know…
Let’s be fair. Someone may say, “I feel pity for them. I WANT to give to the Minister, they don’t earn much“. I’ll get to that in a moment. Is this the reason we are urged to give or to feed them? I’ll agree that I may have sounded somewhat bitter or offended but the truth is, I am neither bitter nor offended but rather disappointed at what I am seeing and here are the reasons why:
- The allowance given to the Ministers ever since the time of the previous Executive Ministers were calculated that they would have enough. If any Minister asks or hints that they need money, it simply means that they went beyond their means. Ever heard of Oprah’s episode of things that we Need versus things that we Want? That’s why the Bible says this in Hebrews 13 : “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” One needs to learn to be satisfied with what we have. That’s for all of us. Shouldn’t a Minister be the prime example of that then? If they want the latest iPhone or his wife wants the newest Coach handbag, he would have to make it fit with his weekly allowance, simple as that.
- If they are asking material things from brethren, what message does that convey? That what the Administration gives is not enough?
- A minister might say it’s a blessing for us when we give things to them. What about brethren who are UNABLE to give materially? Do they then lose out on the blessings because they do not have anything to give to the Minister? Isn’t this the very reason Martin Luther opposed the Catholic doctrine of “indulgences“? Because only the rich could afford forgiveness.
- Did you know this is the very reason of the Catholic teaching of providing material support to their preachers? It is called Peter’s Pence which has been taught since the 1800’s. Recently there have been an outcry in the Catholic Church because of millions of Euros being squandered on beanie babies and thousands of Euros on “pogs“. Look it up to see what those are. (eyeofthetiber.com). This simply reminds me of the old Minister who officiated our wedding. One of my friends tried to give him money and he firmly replied:“Brod, I am not a priest! Do not pay me for services rendered”.
- It is painful to watch when a Minister is hinting brethren that they want something. That latest Samsung. That iPad for the son’s birthday. That suit because his doesn’t fit anymore. (I wonder why). The Bible even said this about those who like to ask (not my words): “the leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry’. Proverbs 30:15. Ouch.
- Many brethren are not rich. They may have just enough for their family and I am embarrassed for the Minister when I see the brethren pushing each other on who will take out the Minister and his family for lunch. Do they not see that? It is so awkward and painful to see.
- Last but certainly not the least, please read the letter of the previous Executive Minister:
If you cannot clearly read what it says, let me magnify it to show my point:
And as far as what I said about after the Worship Services and weddings? Brother Erdy said this:
This was read to all church officers and relayed to brethren. Signed by Brother Erano G. Manalo.
The words are clear. I really do not need to elaborate on it. But all I can ask then is, are these being obeyed by the Ministers and Evangelical Workers? That includes the COUNCIL Tell us again, how things have not changed. Please do not deny it. It would be even more unbecoming if some will pretend that they have never done this.
So what is the point of all this? This was during Brother Erano G. Manalo’s time. Is it still the same? Do the Ministers still have that dignity? Or are they now like salespeople (no insult meant to salespeople) who are irritatingly pushy? Are they now like the Mafia who come to your neighborhood to collect? Are they like the school bully pushing you to give up your lunch?
I know many are nodding yes. That breaks my heart because it simply means that the efforts of Brother Erano Manalo to raise the dignity of the Ministry has vanished. I don’t expect much from the “New Generation” Ministers but if there are still a few decent Ministers out there, from Brother Erdy’s time, then please, show your true colours. Speak up. Not only about what it is written here. But about the indignities being committed against Brother Erano’s family. Why not tell the brethren under your care of what is truly happening? Why not tell them the truth about the Philippine Arena? Tell them why we build a multi million dollar venue to only use it once a quarter (if that). Tell them about the dummy/fake corporations of the Church. Speak up about the money making schemes of Unlad. Tell them of the Council who pressure you make up lies that your locale is growing so much you need an extension or Group Worship Service. Tell all of us. Perhaps then we can say there are still true Ministers out there.
That is why God says this in Ezekiel 34 – read the entire chapter. Here are a few of the verses:
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? … you have ruled them harshly and brutally... I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.”
So it is very clear. When the shepherds are the ones who abuse the flock, God made a promise: “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.“
So fret not brethren. When you feel like we have no one to turn to. When you feel like those whom we used to respect are gone and when the shepherds will abuse us, God made a promise to us… “I myself will look after them”
NOTE: I encourage all readers to print a copy of Brother Erano Manalos’ letter and give one to your Minister. Let them be reminded.