“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.”
not for dishonest gain
Some people in ministry are in it for the money. Greed is their motivation for ministry. “Dishonest gain” is any personal gain sought selfishly. No pastor should commercialize his ministry. God does not want us to put a price tag on our ministry.
“Dishonest gain” occurs only five times in the New Testament.
1 Tim.3:3, “Not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous.”
1 Tim 3:8, “Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money.”
Tit 1:7, “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money.”
Tit 1:11, “Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.”
Interestingly, all five uses of this term refer to Christian leadership. The pastor who is eager for large salary prostitutes his ministry for a debased purpose. He commercializes his ministry by selling benefits.
Lest we over interpret this to mean that we should not pay pastors adequately, there is another side to this story. The Bible not only allows for pastors to receive pay, but it insists that they have the right to remuneration.
1 Co 9:11-14, “If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”
There are two words for “willing” in this verse: “willingly” and “eagerly.” The latter term is a strong word implying strong desire.
“Eagerly” means predisposed, a readiness of mind coming from two words: before and mind. This pastor’s mind is predisposed beforehand to lead. He prepares his mind ahead to take the initiative to lead. There is a mental condition of readiness and willingness to lead. He gladly initiates executive action because he anticipates the needs of his congregation. The true pastor carries within himself the predisposition to lead.
“Eagerly” means that this pastor is so predisposed to ministry that he is eager to do what he does. He is ready and willing to serve Jesus Christ.
Ro 1:15, “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.”
A faithful pastor desires to give, not get. He selflessly and sacrificially cares for his flock.
The pastor should lead and feed the flock, not fleece it.
The pastor who seeks unreasonable personal gain from the ministry is not predisposed toward the true purpose of ministry. He is self-driven. A pastor who serves from the motivation of greed is out of the will of God.
A predisposed mind is a spontaneous mind. A preacher would rather preach than eat, and some of them love to eat! His heart orientation is to preach what God has to say to his people. As well, he should orient his heart toward leadership.