The Pastor Who Refused a Pay Raise
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”” Matthew 16:24-25 ESV
For about 14 years, my long-time pastor traveled back and forth almost monthly between inner city Savannah, GA, and Haiti to preach God’s Word, show people the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and distribute food, clothing, tents, etc. to those in extreme need. He so refused to rest that his congregation would find him on vacations in his office at church. One year, they forced him to go on a cruise to make sure he was far enough away from his car that he couldn’t go work. Undoubtedly he must have preached on the cruise ship. He didn’t buy new suits for himself. People bought them for him because he didn’t concern himself with such matters. He fixed his own car and other people’s cars also. He put on pants and a white cotton t-shirt and labored and sweat right along with everyone else unloading truckloads of donations and filling up shipping containers to be sent to Haiti. He preached with untold passion to the congregation whether 75 people showed up or whether he preached to one. He didn’t concern himself with numbers. He concerned himself with Jesus Christ and God’s Word. One time he lined up the newcomers at the front of the church to tell in brief their stories. Their testimonies were gut-wrenchingly sad. They were broken. When they finished, he looked at them and said, “I’m your servant.” The last 24 hours of his life, he came off the plane from preaching in Haiti, showed up the next day to preach in Savannah, went home, crawled into bed that night and took off to be with the Lord. For 14 years, he refused a pay raise. This world and the things in it meant nothing to him. What mattered were the people and that they would be loved in the name of Jesus Christ and pointed to eternity with God through Christ.
I do not say any of this to exalt the man of God he was. I say it to exalt the Lord. Only a fool in the world’s eyes would refuse a pay raise for 14 years and work as tirelessly as he did. Some say he died because he burned out from working so hard. He couldn’t rest because he saw a world in need and could not stop telling the world about the only One who saves. The Lord. He used to make tons of money and have tons of stuff. He turned his back on it all to love and serve the Lord. What mattered to him weren’t the riches of this world. He gave that all up. What mattered were the riches of the Lord. Those of us who devote our lives utterly to Christ will always be fools in the world’s eyes. Ah, but the reward of loving and knowing and being with the Lord forever. Nothing can compare.
Will you be a fool for Christ? Will you lay down your own dreams and live for the Lord?