Paid to Pray?

time to prayI was sharing with a friend today about a personal dilemma I have encountered. I share these thoughts at her urging.

Before I ever entered the ministry, I felt that it was/is part of the pastor’s job to pray and read the Bible. Part of a pastor’s role is to fervently seek the face of God for the church–vision, healing, restoration, urgings of the Holy Spirit, particular sermon issues, etc. And as a supportive member of the church, I desired to see my pastor/pastoral staff on bended knee for if the pastor is growing in God and open to hearing from God, either through prayer or reading the Bible, then it is a good indication that I too will benefit from that growth as well. Afterall, the pastor is a tool God uses to help transform my life.

Part of the tithes I give to the church are so that the pastor(s) can be freed up to seek God’s will on my behalf and on behalf of those I fellowship with on a regular basis.

This was never really an issue in my life, and then . . . I inherited the role of Connections Pastor. For some reason, lately, I’ve had a hard time reckoning within myself that I get paid to pray and read God’s Word. I mean, why should I get paid to do it when every other church member is expected to seek God through prayer and Bible study on his or her own time? I have never before gotten paid to pray for the church; why now? I’ve never before received a paycheck for reading my Bible; why now? Because I’ve inherited a title, that changes things?

In Colossians 4:12-13 Paul writes of a guy named Epaphrus. He tells the Colossian church that this young man always prays for them and says, “I know that he has worked hard for you…” which tells me that praying is [equal to, the same as] working.

I don’t know how you all feel about this issue, but the transition from doing these things as a supportive member of the church to now a dedicated, paid servant of the church has been hard for me. Nevertheless, I am happy to do it, and, if nothing else, I take the roles of prayer and Bible study more seriously than I ever have before because of the responsibility I feel attatched to them.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Paid to Pray?”
  1. Clayton Borah says:

    WOW! I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone think those thoughts. It’s interesting that you feel like that way.

    I would say that you don’t get paid to pray. You get paid to do the other stuff. ie. make phone calls, develop teams, connect with people and help them plug in at Real Life in whatever capacity they feel comfortable with.

    The fact that you pray, read your bible and communicate with the Almighty just makes you better at your job. But hey what do I know?

  2. Amanda O'Tremba Oster says:

    Clayton, I can totally hear the “WOW!”–that’s funny.

    Seriously though, I hope this post didn’t come across as negative or that I feel it is a newly acquired burden to pray for the church. On the contrary.

    Let me give you an example that might explain my emotional dilemma better. Let’s look at the average senior pastor of a church. “He” spends a good deal of time each week reading his Bible and praying over the direction God wants him to go with the sermon. I wonder if he considers all that time spent in spiritual activity–prayer, meditation, and reading not directly tied to the sermon–as personal entertainment (or whatever we call non-working hours). I would think not. All of that goes into what he does. We kind of expect him to be in-tune with God like that, doing those things; those are part of his professional duties as a pastor.

    But because my duties aren’t as “spiritual”, in theory, then the time I spend in similar activities even though they might be job/ministry focused, I should count them as personal hours as opposed to professional? I don’t necessarily think so, but it still feels awkward in a way I never really expected.

    I feel that what I do is spiritual, and I can’t do what I do very effectively without consulting God regularly. I often say prayers before I make phone calls so that I might be discerning the urgings of the Holy Spirit as I converse. Sometimes I end phone conversations and am led to pray for those with whom I’ve just spoken. As I build teams I pray that God leads me to people who are ready to be involved or for wisdom in how to incorporate strategies or vision. I want to make sure that what I do is in unity with whatever else is going on. Am I to leave these more overtly spiritual activities at home while the more common duties are the ones I really get paid to do? Is not my profession that of ministry? What is it that “ministers” get paid to do? And maybe a better question to ask, what is a minister? Do I qualify?

    I certainly believe there must be a balance. It is important that pastors have personal time with God and with others so that not all interactions are work-related. But a minister must also be careful not to create a huge chasm between personal and professional spirituality. The profession of ministry is deeply personal–thus, it’s effectiveness.

    But hey, like you, what do I know? :)nn1

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