A Career in Ministry

So, as I mentioned on twitter earlier this morning, I got a search yesterday for this string: “how much do christian counselors make.” When I think of this question two motivations for asking it come to the front of my mind:

  1. I want to be a Christian Counselor, but I’m not sure if I will make enough money at it to live off/support my family on.
  2. I think Christian Counseling may be lucrative so maybe I should get into that line of business.

Now, I’m sure there could be a million other motivations behind that question, but, as I see it, those two would be the major ones. While the first motivation seems much more acceptable, I really think they both demonstrate a very inaccurate view of how believers should pastor/counsel their brothers and sisters.

The second motivation is purely selfish, so it can be easily written off. The first motivation is much harder to deal with. The person wants to do the right thing, but he isn’t sure if he can afford to pursue that career. See the assumption there? The very dangerous yet subtle assumption? The assumption is that Christian Counseling is a career. We could just as easily plug pastoring in there or worship leader or youth pastor.

I don’t feel any need to get into the various arguments for or against paying a pastor. There are a million places you can find those arguments. I just want to point out what I feel is a very important opposition between ministry and career:

  • A career’s goal is financial provision.
  • A ministry’s goal is to demonstrate Christ’s love.

These two goals inevitably contradict each other. If I were counseling someone and had to tell them something that upset them I may lose my job. In fear of that, I may not tell them something they need to hear. In that case my goal of financial provision kept me from my goal of demonstrating Christ’s love. On the other side of the coin, if I were to tell them what they needed to hear I may find myself without a job or money to provide for my needs. In that case the goal of demonstrating Christ’s love trumps the goal of financial provision. The point is that these two goals clash.

I’m not telling you what to do in your life and ministry to others. I just think that it may be worth considering the implications if you are considering a career in ministry. How will you deal with the inevitable conflict of these two goals? How will you remain faithful to Christ when it comes into conflict with your ability to provide for your family? Just some things to consider…


About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

One response to “A Career in Ministry

  • Bob McLeod

    I have struggled with these questions myself. Early in my christian walk, my major goal in life was to be in “full-time” ministry. I eventually had to let this dream die as time and again the door was shut on my face.
    I have learned that real ministry is service to others in Christ’s name without expecting anything in return. Real ministry can happen anywhere, anytime with anyone as long as they are willing to serve.

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