Several weeks ago I received an email from an Executive Pastor that blew me away. When you read his note, you will understand why he used a fake email address to conceal the identity of his church. He wrote:
Thanks for taking the time to write Contagious Generosity.
Any advice for an Executive Pastor who has a Senior Pastor that gives very little? As in … six figure income and a wife that works … and they gave $1,400 last year.
When this surfaced in staff reports, he said, “I have a lot of investments and financial obligations … I give what I can when I can.” Obviously he doesn’t GET “generosity leadership.”
Any suggestions on how to follow such a man? The Elders don’t know, and they never ask. They see him as amazing and wonderful.
Sorry for my vague email address. I hope you can understand.
How would you respond? What would you do if this was your church? I re-read the email several times before I began to write a reply. Here’s what I sent:
Thanks so much for writing and don’t worry about the email address. I get it.
First of all, let me say that I felt both sad and disappointed when read your message. Generous churches are led by generous leaders and if your church is not enthusiastically embracing generosity and stewardship, it can be directly connected to the heart of the leaders of the church. Having said that, I am sure there are many in your church who do give generously, even sacrificially. Imagine how disheartened they would be to hear that the pastor that they love is is not joining them in the grace of giving. That’s sad.
What disappointed me was the fact that your pastor included his “investments and financial obligations” as an excuse for not giving. What? My guess is that most of the wise stewards in your church have both investments and obligations to deal with while still giving generously to the work of the Kingdom.
You asked if I had any advice, but I am hesitant to suggest what you should do. So, please prayerfully consider what I am sharing here and just do what you think is best.
One thing I know for sure is that you should examine your own heart and your giving. Are you growing in your giving? You don’t want to deal with a speck in your brother’s eye and ignore the log in your own, right?
The next thing I would suggest is that you pray for him, sincerely. Not that God would judge or discipline him, but rather that God would touch his heart. This is a spiritual issue, and “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” There is something broken here. I suppose he could just be greedy, but my guess is that it’s probably more about fear or insecurity.
Next if you decide you want to raise this issue with him again, I would suggest that you do so carefully, remembering to “speak the truth in love”. And don’t forget, “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Tell him several of the things that you admire about him and his leadership, and then say that there is a concern that you want to share. Then, wrap up with more positive comments. He may not like what you say, but try not to give him any reason to criticize the way you said it. I hope that makes sense.
Finally, you could consider preparing a report of all staff giving for the elders. I don’t know how many staff you have, but it is perfectly appropriate for an XP to report that kind of data to the spiritual leaders of the church. When I was an XP, I did a report like this every quarter. You could simply say that you have been reading the book and agree that it is important that the leadership of a church model stewardship and generosity. Perhaps you could give this report to just one of the elders who may share your concern. Obviously, this could open a huge can of worms. So you may not want to do it, and if you don’t, I would certainly not judge you. At all.
Feel free to write again, and If you want to talk, feel free to call, my number is below.
What do you think?