Do pay increases undermine missional leaders?
The following is a brief excerpt from my forthcoming book Multiplying Missional Leaders, which comes out at the beginning of May.
Missional leaders will need to embrace a more Kingdom-oriented understanding of how God says our world functions, both in terms of why we’re here in the world and more specifically, in terms of how we make decisions. I believe that scripture lays out a proper ordering of our priorities:
1. Our covenant with God, our Father
2. Our covenant with our spouse and kids
3. Our missional calling and family: Where and to whom am I currently called?
4. Our job
I don’t think this is a revolutionary list until we get to the third point. That’s because in this list I am suggesting that a person’s calling to missional leadership should dictate the type of job that person has and where it’s located.
I cannot count the number of people over the years who have felt called to our community and to a specific missional endeavor in that place but chose to leave the city and move for an annual pay increase of $5,000 or $10,000. They feel called to one place and people and mission, but leave it for a pay increase. Let’s be very clear about what they said when making that decision: “Five to ten grand a year is worth more than the missional calling God has placed on my life and the family I
was serving with.”
That is, quite literally, what their life is saying.
I’ve seen more pastors than I can count make that exact same decision. When we do this, we are using the values and the metrics that the world considers important to dictate our decisions instead of Kingdom realities. The Kingdom reality is that we have a Father who says, “Look at the birds in the air. I take care of them. Won’t I take care of you?”
Look. I’m not suggesting we work for ridiculously small amounts of money to the point where we can’t take care of our family. That would violate our covenant with our spouse and kids, which is a rung above our specific missional calling. But I am saying that time and time again, people make decisions based on money, stuff, opportunity, glamour, celebrity, consumerism, or ambition rather than asking where God is calling them to go. Missional leaders simply have a different way of making decisions, and so you would be wise to shape this Kingdom reality in the missional leaders you are training.
Let’s look at a practical example. Let’s say one of the missional leaders in your Huddle is offered a promotion for more money. Awesome. That’s great. Anyone’s knee-jerk reaction would be, “Take it! Take the money and the promotion and keep moving up the corporate ladder.”
But these would be questions I’d want to ask this missional leader:
- If you take this job, will you be able to be faithful to your covenant with God? Will you still have time to spend with him? Will you still be in a place where you work from rest, rather than rest from work?
- How will taking this job affect your family? Will it bring more stress? Will you still get quality time with your spouse and your kids? Will you still have time for family activities that you do together?
- Will you still have the availability to serve the people you feel God is calling you to serve? What would change? Are you still being called to serve these people?
- Is the increase in money and stature worth whatever decreases may come with it?
What we are doing in situations like this is helping the missional leaders we are training to live with a Kingdom understanding of how we order our lives and make decisions. We don’t answer to money. We don’t answer to stuff. We don’t answer to ambition, and we aren’t slaves to our appetites. We answer to God.
My friend Todd Hunter puts it this way: “You are an agent of the Kingdom cleverly disguised as an attorney (or artist, or banker, or stay-at-home mom, or electrician, or pastor, etc).”
I believe this is a crucial area to address for all missional leaders, because it’s one of those subtle things that our enemy uses to dull our effectiveness. Seriously, how brilliant is this? He sees that someone is starting to get some missional traction, and so he gets him or her a $7,000 raise across the country that takes him or her out of the game for a couple of years. We have to see that this is happening all around us and help our leaders see this reality.
Again, this isn’t to say raises aren’t good or that moves aren’t appropriate. But as missional leaders living in a Kingdom reality, we measure things differently, yes?