“Take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.” Jesus (Matthew 10:10).
Like all of the other modules, the Christian perspective about compensating those who help us or work for us is radically different from common practice. Of course, in reality, many of the principles we have touched seem lost even upon Christians. Once again we need to catch God’s heart.
What can I say? God’s heart is always toward abundance – kindness, extending more than one contractually should, being generous with those who help us. Jesus’s admonition to his disciples that their needs would be met reflects His confidence in both God and those who worked for Him. His direction reminds me of John the Baptist, because John also emphasized the giving of a double blessing. “If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic as well.” (Luke 6:29).
Paul picks up the same theme in 1 Timothy 5:18: “For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
We can say for sure that it is the responsibility of every Christian to treat well all those who work for him or her. Personally, I feel this is a very important Christian trait. Now many of you are thinking, “well, no one works for me! This doesn’t apply to me,” but actually you will be excited to learn that it does!
We all receive help – the labor of others; it is impossible to avoid in our interdependent culture. Our friend, Landon Saunders, helped me see this long ago when he shared with a group how thoughtful he hoped to be in any encounter where he was receiving a service. This happens to each of us nearly every day. We are at the check-out counter at the grocery, and the person behind the counter is calculating what we owe or sacking our groceries. Or we are at a cafe and being waited on by a waiter or waitress. Or on board a plane having a stewardess give us snacks or a drink. Or at the hardware store needing help. Or perhaps our air-conditioner is on the blink, and repair men are at our home. Each of these occasions and innumerable more happen to us often and more frequently than we imagine. People are working for us!
Landon shared that he always gave more than a minimum tip at restaurants. The standard rate for a tip is 15 percent, but Landon delights to exceed the minimum because he wants the server to recognize that he sees the person behind the service as well as their work. Unfortunately, few do. One of my young friends who works as a waiter at a local chain confided that the servers hate Sunday because that is when the church crowd visits, and the tips are minuscule or non-existent. All I can say is that many have yet to see the generous face of our Father in heaven who rewards us far beyond our deserts. So we each have an opportunity, often daily, to see others that serve us with compassion and generosity. Paul reminds us in 2nd Corinthians 9: 11 that you “will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” Note the “so that.” God “makes us rich in every way so that we can be generous on every occasion. That bout sums it up!
I am afraid that a similar criticism can be leveled for how ministers are treated. Often ministers barely receive subsistence, and our challenge as Christians is to make sure that doesn’t happen in our own faith community. Shouldn’t they receive even more than they would in a secular job – rather than less? And what about setting aside funds for their retirement? As Paul says in 1st Corinthians 9:9, “Don’t muzzle the Ox!”
Now some of you actually have formal employees – this may be at your home or place of business. We want to be especially sure that we treat them better than they deserve – just as our Father in heaven treats us! In this way, you will reveal the heart of the Father. So give them all you can afford. Hopefully, you also can help them both save and additionally have a good benefits package.
Summing up, when it comes to compensation, remember: be GENEROUS!