Pastor Joseph Prince’s reported “S$700,000″ Salary – How Much Should A Pastor Earn?

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:

Pastor Joseph Prince

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.

Interview with Apelles Poh, Pastor & Financial Advisor

Apelles Poh

Grace says: I was intrigued by how a Pastor can also be a very successful Financial Advisor. In Apelles’ case, he achieved MDRT for 10 years, COT for 4 years and also TOT for 3 years!

Interesting facts about Apelles:

-Preached his first sermon at age 16

-Signed on with the Air Force for 6 years before he left to join the Financial Planning line

-He was initially anti-insurance till he realized that the products were sound, it was just that the behavior of some agents turned people off

-Wanted to quit insurance three times within his first year. He calls it a humbling process

- Clients now look for him at his office instead of him going to meet them, unless the client’s pregnant or needs to take care of young children

1) How did you become so successful as a financial advisor? 

There are 5 Ps (and their accompanying questions) to Success.

1) Passion – Do you enjoy what you do?

2) Professionalism – Are you good at what you do? Three sets of skills are necessary – Core Skills, Soft Skills, Life skills.

3) Profitability – Will people pay you for what you do?

4) Processes – Are there systems for what you do? Systematize and work ON your business instead of IN your business.

5) Purpose *This is the most important one* – Do you know why you do it?

Life is never smooth, so you’ll need the 5Ps and God. :)

2) You mentioned that you focus on your clients (i.e. people) first. Does this mean money naturally follows?

I seek to add value to people and I hope each meeting with me leaves them better than before they met me. For instance, I know most people forget about what they have bought after about a month so I provide a financial summary for them – something they can comprehend at one glance so they won’t forget. I want to give them a big picture, instead of small jigsaw pieces.

I believe in holistic planning. I will advise clients on will writing, debt repayment, CPF nomination, etc. Sometimes, it’s even pro bono work but I am happy to know that I have helped someone.

Don’t care about the commissions. Have a heartbeat for the people.

The proceeds from my first book, ‘Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often’ have gone to charity – $60,000 to the Children’s Cancer Foundation. I’ve donated another $10,000 to the ST Pocket Money Fund.

Money is like fertilizer, hoard it and it stinks, but if you give it away, it will create life.

I’m sponsoring 20 children – 10 in India and 10 in Batam.

I realized these Indian children watch movies and eat meat only about three times a year. But they have no complaints. They do not choose which soft toys they want to accept. Singaporean kids, in contrast, tend to complain a lot. Here, we have a lot but we really don’t have much because we are not grateful.

3) So, how can we “Live Well” and enjoy Life?

Firstly, slow down by choice. Make time to slow down. Don’t go through life without life going through you. Don’t see without observing, don’t eat without tasting, don’t touch without feeling.

We should not be called Singaporeans because we don’t sing a lot. We should be called Rush-ians because we rush a lot. :D

Secondly, observe Life. We spend thousands to go and see snow. The Swiss spend thousands to come here and see the Botanic Gardens. ;)

We have nice parks so go and walk. Observe the types of green – the different shades are very interesting! New life is always springing forth and we must learn to be like them. Have newness, don’t give up! Observe the different shapes. Listen to the cicada and the crickets. Bring sanity and centering back to your life.

A common objection people have is that of “No Time!”. Make time. Only dead people have no time.

Grace says: I left this interview with many insights – I hope you have gotten at least a few. ;) You can also grab a copy of Apelles’ book or come by for his talk next week. (Details below) :)

Purchase a copy of ‘Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often’ by clicking here

Attend an in-house talk entitled “Asset Preservation and Distribution Strategies – Will Writing” & “Honey, Where Is The Money?”on Thursday, 19th April 2012 at 7.30pm. (Venue: Novena Square) *Indicate your interest by emailing me at gracemg@gmail.com and I will send you an invite from Apelles.

*If you’re new to this blog, submit your email address in the Subscription field on your right and get all inspiring interviews delivered to your inbox free-of-charge! Do it NOW! :)