It is very clear that in the divine plan the minister is required to devote his entire time to his sacred calling, and is not to become entangled with business pursuits or anything of a commercial character which might tend to divide his time and interests. The divine plan requires that the minister burn all commercial bridges behind him, and become absolutely dependent upon the Lord's treasury, sustained by the tithe of the people, for the support of himself and family.
The problem facing the minister, therefore, is not how to increase the income, but how to adjust personal requirements so as to keep within the allotted income. In exceptional cases a sum of money has been on hand when the minister entered, upon his sacred calling, which has' proved a reserve fund upon which to draw. in case of apparent need. But in the majority of cases this is not the situation, and every Seventh-day Adventist minister should give serious thought to ad- justing his financial obligations so as to keep within the income allowed by the conference.
The minister who faiIs to keep his expenses within his income must sooner or later find himself confronted by embarrassing situations which react in detriment to the Lord's work:
1. Debts are incurred, and thus. the impression is given that either Seventh-day Adventist ministers do not receive a sufficient wage, or the minister is extravagant. Both of these impressions, especially if noted by people of the world, are decidedly detrimental to the minister and his work.
2. By exceeding his income, the minister is forced to borrow, either from worldly friends or from brethren in the church. A minister soon weakens his influence when he follows the pol- icy of borrowing money.
3. Living beyond one's income pre- vents the minister from. being the leader of the church in sacrifice and gifts to.God's cause; By pleading pov- erty, he draws attention to his own needs, rather than to the Lord's work; and while a few may sympathize with him, the majority of the church mem- bers will condemn him for not being a better financier in his own home.
4. Living beyond the income brings discouragement to the minister, and keeps him in a state of worry and anxiety; . and no minister can bring cheer and hope to others while himself laboring under discouragement. Personally, I have faithfully and consistently followed the plan of " pay- as-you-go-or-don'tlgo," ever since I entered the minisbry. It is sheer financial suicide for a preacher to launch out into the deep with his living expenses, purchasing this or that, when he does not know where the money is to come from to pay for such things. To go ahead and buy furniture, clothing, etc., without the necessary funds on hand or in sight, is surely an unwise policy. I fear that far too many of our ministers pIace in their homes many things which they could just as well do without, knowing when they do it that they are not able to handle the financial end of the proposition.
I believe that we should cut down our expense so that it comes within our income. This, of course, involves denying ourselves in some ways; but, after all, that is the life every minister is supposed to live. If we advise the people to cut down expenses and live within their means, surely we, as preachers, should set them an ex- ample. Seventh-day Adventist ministers are being paid better wages than ever before, and it does seem that there is little excuse for creating debts.
I also believe that workers, especially those having children, should plan to lay by a little from time t o time, in order to be prepared for some sudden emergency, which is likely to arise in the life of any worker in this cause. I believe that under normal conditions, where no sickness prevails, this can be done without decreasing our gifts to God's cause.
By carefuIly studying economy in the home, simplicity in diet, discarding luxuries, and caution in selecting furniture, clothing, etc.,--the minister and the members of his family will be better off physically and financial, for there would be at least a small sum left each month for emergency.
Each preacher decides his own financial destiny. It is not always the man who goes beyond his income who is the most liberal in giving t o God's cause. The man who carefully budgets his expenses so as to keep them within his income, is in far better position t o be of real financial help to the cause of God. It is possible for the minister to live within his income, and this should be the standard adopted by all. To say it cannot be done, admits of only two conclusions: (1) That the minister is not paid a suffcient wage; ( 2) that the minister is extravagant, and insists on Iiving on a scale beyond his means. I feel sure that no mninistec will want to take either of these positions. If it can be done, then the minister, as a leader of the people, is the man to demonstrate how to do it.