When I started attending my church in 2001, my pastor was using a Volkswagen Beetle. I still remember how we used to wait till after service so we can help him push the car. My pastor would enter the car, put it in neutral while church members pushed.
When it roared to life, he would still carry a few people and drop them along the way.
After some time, he used to wait for a church member to drop him at home.
I also remember a BMW he bought that my wife told me was nicknamed Lion of Bodija because of the smoke and the way it roared. I remember our Men’s Fellowship wanted to buy him a car once. Tried as much as we did, we couldn’t raise the money.
Pastor would be broke but church members would still go to him for money. A significant population were students. He spent time to mentor, teach and help people. We all could see it wasn’t about money.
We didn’t even have money at that time. In all my years in church, I’ve seen people come and go.
I still remember very clearly a text message my pastor sent to me after reading something I wrote on Facebook: “Heaven will be shocked if you don’t write a book with all you know. Don’t limit yourself to writing on Facebook alone”. It was his push that made me write 2 books.
I still recall how he would ask me for my goals those early years- 2002, 2003, etc. My pastor taught me goal setting. He would sit in his office and go through your goals with you one on one.
He taught me how to communicate. Pastor would pick you and put you on the spot- share a 5-mins sermon. After your fumbling, he would correct you- you didn’t hold the microphone well, you didn’t pronounce these words well, you were looking down, you didn’t use the stage well, etc
He would call me and pray for me. The same way he prayed for all church members.
That is why I laugh when I see people write that pastors are just thieves. They don’t see their times of labour and unimaginable sacrifice. Many see shining cathedrals now but they never saw when the pastors arranged wooden chairs inside makeshift apartments.
Some of them left lucrative jobs to answer the call. My pastor left the United Kingdom to relocate to Nigeria to answer the call.
The truth is that for many of us, the real family we have is our church. The real father many have is their pastor. When we face a crisis, we go to church because that’s the home we know. Pastors pay school fees of not just their own biological children.
Churches pay rent for members. A church took my mother in and gave her accommodation for almost a year when my family had a domestic issue while I was growing up. I know pastors who take in church members to live with them because they have nowhere to go.
Churches bail out members who get into trouble. Many pastors serve as guarantors to enable members get jobs. I have seen a pastor who was arrested because his church member whom he served as surety for absconded.
Many churches give out the offerings and tithes received as benevolence to church members as soon as the service is over. During the lockdown, the palliatives given by churches were more effective than that given by the government.
The church is the only safety net millions have. Churches don’t broadcast all they do because that’s not how we were taught.
Many of us got to church very rough and unrefined but through a consistent teaching process, we are no longer a picture of what we used to be. So if God has now changed our story, should it be too much to remember those who laboured over us?
As Paul put it in 1 Cor 9:11 Amp- If we have sown [the good seed of] spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? This exactly is why some of you just can’t discourage us from giving our tithes and offerings- no matter how hard you try.
Before you tell us, yes, we know our pastors are not perfect. They are anointed but they are also human. Their treasure is in earthen vessels. We will continue to pray for them and trust they will finish well.
We also acknowledge the fact that there are a few wolves in sheep’s clothing. The Shepherd of shepherds will deal with those ones. We won’t lose our sleep over them. Let the tares and the wheat grow together.
But if God blesses me the way I desire, I’ll bless my pastor in return. And it may include gifting him a private jet if I can afford it.
If you’re a pastor, please be encouraged. We celebrate you and we pray that your labour will be rewarded here and hereafter.
If you have been blessed by your pastors, don’t only pray for them but also send them a seed today.