Although what I say below does not apply in every church situation, I believe it applies mutatis mutandis in so many that I offer it here to our general readership.
If a young man were to ask me how he should prepare for pastoral ministry, close to the top of my list of advice would be, “Get and maintain--especially if you plan to marry and have children, and are not of independent means--a skill for which there is a ready market, for which you could leave the pastorate and quickly begin to support your family.” I am deadly serious about this.
I say this because I am convinced that doing the right thing in a great many churches will place one in a struggle where one’s livelihood is in immediate jeopardy, and that the normal result of the confrontation is the pastor’s capitulation to some wickedness or foolishness to save his job and feed his family. The conscience is thereby defiled, and the compromised pastor becomes a dressing for some ecclesial disease—clean white gauze on its outside, the inside absorbing the suppurations of a festering sore which will not heal because it refuses to receive the treatment it needs. Such dressings are frequently, of necessity, torn off and thrown away.
We are not speaking here of the incursion of the know-it-all clerical whippersnapper who steams into a church to reform it according to his own bright lights or formulas for success he has learned in some ridiculous Practical Theology faculty, but rather the pastor who finds, as one so often does, heresy or immorality that must be dealt with, and purposes to deal with it. There are great advantages in such a case to be operating, and to be known to be operating, from a position of financial independence. Challenging the malignancy has a cost, and it is wise to be able to cover it before one begins the work.