“Oxes and laborers…” or “double honor”

I have to admit I have felt “called” to worship ministry since about 1980.  This was way before I knew that in some churches accross the land worship leaders get paid.  I would not have even considered that I could make  a living out of it.  It was a passion, not a career path.  Most worship leaders I know (if not all) would say the same thing.  It’s not about the money, it’s about the calling.

Later in my 20’s my buddies and I had many debates/discussions/struggles about whether or not a “Christian musician/band” should get paid.  We always played out of a desire to serve, but in the back of our minds it sure would have been great if we, at least, got reimbursed for our trouble (i.e. gas, food, lodging).  At the same time if we played in “secular” venues, pay was expected and even maybe demanded.  Interesting dichotomy.

So, I formulated my Theology of Pay.  This was a subconsious formulation for the most part, but nonetheless, it was there.  I used the principals of the Tribe of Levi in the old testament.  This tribe was, among other things, tasked with the music of the culture.  This music was used to inspire praise in worship and courage in battle.  This tribe was not allowed to own land or take up other jobs so the Jewish Tithe was used to support them.  The thought is we (Christian musicians and worship leaders) held a similar function so should also receive pay for our “services”.

The other principal comes from Paul’s letter to Timothy his co-minister in the New Testament.  He tells Timothy to that elders in the church (technically, older, wiser Christians) are to receive “double honor” because of their faithful service.  In our minds we took the phrase “double-honor” to mean “double-pay”.

The thought was “We are ministers who labor well.  Just like the Levites and the elders in the New Testament, we should get paid.  If Paul was talking about the Pastor in his letter to Timothy, he was also, surely speaking about Worship Pastors.  And if Worship Pastors, why not Worship Leaders AND worship/christian bands”

I have received pay for Worship Leading and I have served with no pay.  Some of my friends believe I didn’t get paid nearly enough when I DID get paid.  As usual, when money gets involved things can get a little weird…i.e. “who’s making more”…”I need a raise!”…”I’m not valued becaues I’m not getting paid at all”…

Two points:

Levites – We are not a Jewish Tribe.  We are not Ancient Israel.  We do not function like the Jewish Religion.  It is a little dishonest to pick and choose which parts of the Jewish Religion we choose to live by.  We don’t stone people.  We don’t sacrifice animals.  We don’t want to live like the Levites, so why should we get paid like them.

Paul’s letter to Timothy – There is a reason why “double honor” (word for honor is “timees”) is never translated as wage.  There are better Greek words to use if “pay” was meant.  However the word for honor (timees) is used dozens of times in the New Testament.  It is NEVER used to indicate “wage”.  It is used as “honor” or “value”.

Since Paul uses the word, “timees”, many times in this letter to mean honor there is nor room to use Paul’s statements to Timothy to mean “wage” or “salary”.

So, is pay for Worship Leaders/Worship Teams/Christian Bands, supported biblically?

I no longer think so.

Is it evil or a sin for the same to get paid?

In my opinion no.

A couple of thoughts…

When money is involved in any endeavor motives can be affected and thinking can get clouded.

Also, as stated in another blog entry, and in my opinion, the “position” Worship Leader/Worship Pastor/Song Leader has little to no scriptural support.  As such any theology supporting actually paying this “position” fails at the root.

What think you?

Differences of opinion are more than welcome!


3 responses to ““Oxes and laborers…” or “double honor”

  1. Kevin; I think someone like you….a network engineer…doesn’t really need to make a salary with his worship leading or music. There are many though, that are full time musicians, and have to get paid in order to survive.

    Coming from a family of professional musicians I have a different perspective. My Dad was a brick layer by day, and a professional musician by night. He did plenty of free-bees too. He couldn’t have supported our family through the depression if it weren’t for the money that playing music provided.

    A work man is worthy of his hire. I’m called to use my musical training and gifts for the church (the body of Christ), and for schools. I think whether or not one uses their talents for the church or for the entertainment industry, at some point they have to be paid in order to be able to support their families. Especially if that’s what they do for a living. In addition to getting paid, I also volunteer a lot. That’s my service to the Lord.

  2. continued….

    I’m so glad guys like J.S. Bach and even modern day Chris Tomlin were/are paid. Otherwise, they might be too busy to write their inspiring music that has and will continue to draw hearts closer to the throne forever and ever.

  3. There are many awesome musicians out there grinding out a living. This is commendable. However, the musical profession is not in view here; the category of music as a ministry is. My point is, and to put it more clearly, it would be wise to be careful in building a theology of pay. It is too easy to take scripture out of context. Too often we continue “chrisitan practices” because that’s the way it’s always been done.

    It’s a good for all of us to examine everything we do in light of scripture and resist the tempation to “proof-text”.

    thanks for you comments!!

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