Our Service as an Investment

Our denominational workers who serve for a missionary wage sometimes are inclined to feel that they are making a great financial sacrifice in forgoing the higher wages offered by commer­cial organizations.

By HAROLD H. COBBAN, Assistant Treasurer of the General Conference

Our denominational workers who serve for a missionary wage sometimes are inclined to feel that they are making a great financial sacrifice in forgoing the higher wages offered by commer­cial organizations. In a certain sense this may seem to be so, and yet if one takes a long-range view of the matter he will see that it is not always the case.

In many instances those who earn large salaries discover ways of spending what they make, and in the end save little if any more than do those with smaller incomes. Those who do save their money find it difficult in these days to invest their savings in a manner to ensure safety and at the same time get a fair return. In recent years if one invests his money and receives a return of 2% percent he is doing well.

Let us suppose that an individual, after having worked for a commercial concern for twenty years, has saved $15,000 and has invested it at 22 percent interest. He would receive $375 annually from such an investment. Should he become incapacitated and be unable to work, such an income would not provide for his needs, and he would more than likely have to draw upon the principal, and thus decrease proportionally the annual income. Should he not recover from his disability, the time would probably come when he had little or nothing left to show for his years of labor.

In comparison with such an experience, let us consider the case of a denominational worker who has given twenty years of service to the cause, and has become incapacitated. It is true that his earnings have not been large, and his only, investment may be an equity in his home. He may not have even that, but does he have no investment that will bring him an income in his time of perplexity and misfortune? Indeed he does, although it is not one that will be revealed by a financial statement. Nevertheless it is real, and as long as he is loyal to the principles and beliefs of the de­nomination, and continues to be in need, he will receive an income.

His investment is in denominational service, which is recognized by the denomination as making him eligible for assistance from the Sustentation Fund. Under the present schedule of allow­ances, the worker, if married; may receive $6o a month. This is equivalent to an income of 21/2 percent on $28,800. In addition to this, help may be given him if he has heavy medical expense.

Also, if there are children under eighteen years of age, an allowance of $io monthly will be granted for each child. Thus it is evident that from the standpoint of income from investments the de­nominational worker is likely to fare better than one who has worked outside the denomination, and who in case of sickness must fall back upon his investments for support.                     

There is still another comparison which should not be lost sight of. When it comes to making in­vestments in stocks, bonds, and so forth, one cannot always be certain that they are as secure as they seem. Many supposedly good investments have in the end proved worthless, and the investors have lost all they put into them. Many other invest­ments, while apparently sound, do not pay the in­vestors as high rates of interest as formerly. The loss of money invested and the lowered income from even the good investments have brought per­plexity to many who must depend upon their in­vestment income.

What has been the experience of those who have received the benefits of the Sustentation Fund? During recent years, when interest rates on invest­ments have been decreasing, the allowances to beneficiaries of the Sustentation Fund have been increased several times in order to assist benefi­ciaries in meeting the added cost of living. Thus the denominational worker's "investment" in serv­ice has increased in value, whereas ordinary in­vestment income has declined.

Over and above any financial return which a denominational worker may receive for his service, there is the satisfaction that comes from the real­ization that he has contributed his strength of mind and body to forwarding the cause of God. The objectives of this advent movement are such that financial interests should never be allowed to overshadow them.


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By HAROLD H. COBBAN, Assistant Treasurer of the General Conference

December 1944

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