[The United Presbyterian, Sept.4, 1950, p. 6-7]
By GORDON H. CLARK
Member of Session, First Church, Indianapolis, Ind.
THIS YEARthe family had a vacation such as it gets once in 10 years. We saw wild cats in the Black Hills, bear cubs in Yellowstone, and deer on Pike’s Peak. We also saw some scenes of spiritual significance.
A Minister With a ’39 Jalopy
There was a minister with a ’39 jalopy parked in a church yard full of his parishoners’ ’49 and ’50 models. There was also a minister, his wife, and several children, who had no carpets or rugs on their floors. And the cheerful smile of another minister revealed all too plainly the need of considerable dental work. It all reminded me of an incident I learned of a few years ago.
The elders of a country church, whose calls had been consistently declined by a series of candidates, came to a neighboring minister for advice or consolation. These young men—they said—seem to be too much interested in money; when they learn of the small salary we offer, they will not accept out call; are there no spiritually-minded young men?
A Neighboring Minister With Blunt Words
The neighboring minister replied: Perhaps you have made the wrong diagnosis. It is possible that these young men have not accepted your calls for quite another reason. Your unwillingness to pay a man what you can well afford to pay him is an indication of unspirituality on your part; and I suspect that the Lord is punishing you by calling men to other churches and letting you remain in the leanness of your souls.
These blunt words carried weight because of the man who spoke them. Ten or 12 years before a small group of country people had asked him to be their pastor. Yes, he said, I shall gladly be your pastor on certain conditions. I do not want to be a routine country pastor, but if you are willing to follow my leadership and if you will see the vision I see, I will gladly accept the call. The result was that the 30 persons who issued the call, without a church building, shortly had a comfortable building. Within a year or two a summer conference was begun and expanded until it came to have $25,000 worth of equipment. And more recently this pastor, still a rural pastor, with his people has erected a $260,00 home for the aged. [Perhaps Clark is referring to Franklin Dyrness, the founder of the Quarryville Presbyterian Rest Home?]
A Vision of Progressiveness
His salary which had begun very low (I doubt that he got $2,00 the first year) is perhaps twice that figure now, but still one-tenth what he could earn in business. The men of the ministry are not usually greedy of filthy lucre. Four thousand is not a large salary these days. Unskilled or at least semiskilled workmen can easily earn as much. But how many ministers, who must spend years in preparation for their calling, get an adequate living?
If a particular congregation or an entire denomination seems to be languishing, if it is not growing and expanding, if it cannot support schools, colleges, home, and orphanages, if it cannot cover the globe with mission stations, may not the explanation lie in the stinginess of soul that condemns the Lord’s servants to ’39 jalopies, bare floor and bad teeth?