This article from Yahoo! News (here) has been all over my Facebook feed today. So, Pastor Joseph Prince has a reported net worth of S$6.3million?! It definitely raised many eyebrows, including mine. But come to think of it, he heads a mega church, and why shouldn’t his net worth be in the ‘mega’ category as well?
If I run a company with over 30,000 employees, what sort of salary should I reasonably be expected to draw?
And if I run a church with over 30,000 tithing members (and not employees whom I have to pay), what sort of salary should I reasonably be expected to receive?
And ok, the Pastor might have stopped drawing a salary from some time back, but it is of no surprise that his net worth should be at a certain level based on sales of items like books (which made it to the New York Times’ bestseller list), DVDs, CDs, etc.
Is There A Limit As To How Much A Pastor Should Prosper?
In the Bible, it is stated that “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
So why is it that when a pastor prospers, man makes noise?
I guess that as a nation, we have not only been let down by various charities and “leaders” who have sought to enrich themselves at the expense of their trusting followers, but also become wary of people who earn ‘obscene’ amounts of money.
I’ve read some comments on Facebook, including DJ Rosalyn Lee’s take:
It seems that there is a certain threshold that high income earners should be careful not to cross if they don’t want to get some backlash from the public. In the pastor’s case, it would be S$100,000.
I wonder though – if I have a pastor who earns more than any other pastor in this country (or region), does this not mean that he is truly a man of God and favored more than any other? Hmm… [Just to be clear on this point: I am not a member of his church and have not visited his church before either]
Pastors and Money
I guess we expect A LOT from religious folk. Even in modern society, we expect them to denounce certain things, with materialism and “obscene” amounts of money topping the list.
I guess it is why a book with a title like ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ would be most intriguing to many. We do not expect religious people to endorse these trappings of wealth.
Is it our own insecurity (tantamount to admittance to failure) about not being able to earn THIS MUCH that makes us want to ‘slam’ those who do? [Nope, don't tell me your answer. Just think about it]
And one other important question we have not asked is what he has done with all that money he has earned?
Has he given a portion away?
Has he reinvested this in the church?
Has he bought a Ferrari? Or two?
What is his lifestyle like?
It would be premature to slam a person based on a media report on how much he earns, or is worth without asking more questions first.
But I guess that if you are worth that much, and earn that much, you wouldn’t give two hoots about what people think either.
All I’m saying is that there’s no point being upset. If you want to be in his position and earn that much too, then go run a mega church and write best-selling books and what not.
Also, I can only imagine how much money it requires to upkeep his image. In photographs, he looks more like a pop idol or superstar than my notion of what a pastor looks like. In his shoes, you and I would probably need some work done to our faces, an expensive hairstylist, and swanky outfits. And all of these cost money. So there. Chill.
Money and the Church
I had a pretty bad experience as a kid in church. I remember vividly a day when a pastor asked for donations (perhaps for a building fund or something, I don’t remember). And when the takings fell short of the amount requested, he asked helpers to shut the doors and not allow people out while the bags were passed round again.
There was a mother who wanted to get out so she could secure some hot water for making milk for her infant. But she was told to stay inside till the collection was done.
As a young kid, I knew there was something not right about this. But I didn’t offer to stand up to the “bouncer” at the door.
Now I know that it is actually illegal to force someone to stay indoors against his/her will.
So, really, I don’t care how much pastors earn. If his books are really helpful to the people who buy them, and therefore make the bestseller lists, and earn him a sh*tload of money, good for him. He deserves every penny of it! If YOU think that you can write an equally good (if not better) book, and make the bestseller list too, then DO IT. I’ll be equally happy for you!
If people buy his CDs and DVDs because they are truly inspiring or motivational, and bring about changes and breakthroughs in their lives, then he deserves every cent he makes too! It cannot be that an ordinary singer can make it big and sell tonnes of CDs, and people still support her as a local songbird, but when a pastor does the same, he is condemned!
As long as the congregation is not forced (or encouraged) to buy a CD just to support a church leader (while not really liking any Cheeena Wine sort of songs*), and all is based on free will, then so be it.
*Disclaimer: No reference to any persons living or dead is intended.
If the pastor does indeed earn S$700,000 a year, or more, it is none of your business nor mine. Whether he earns this much or not has no impact on how much you and I earn. ;) If you’d like to earn a similar figure, you can consider doing what he does, or tell your child to aspire to be a pastor, maybe? After all, children are already being told to study law, medicine or accountancy as these careers pay well, aren’t they? Why not add ‘pastor’ to the list? At least we offer them more choices.