What Does the Soon-to-be Graduate Seminary Student Think of 'Low Pastor Salaries' ?

A girl holds a cross to pray.
A girl holds a cross to pray.
By Josiah LiApril 26th, 2022

Muzi, a millennial college graduate, once gave up studying theology due to a fear of the hard life of a preacher and denied the call of God. Later, she went to the workplace but soon she quit her work and enrolled in a seminary. Now, she is about to be a theology graduate, what does she think of the inevitable topic of the salary of grassroots pastors?

 “I have made certain psychological preparations for choosing this path.” For the topic of the salary of pastors, Muzi had thought about it before going to the seminary. She experienced it in the process of studying theology, and now she can calmly face it. In fact, it is not easy for her to have such a mindset.

Muzi grew up in the church because her mother is a Christian. Her faith in God took root when she was in college and desired to study theology. However, this idea was put off when she saw the hard life of the pastoral couple in her fellowship. “The missionary couple had such a hard life, and I thought I could wait until I earned ‘enough’ money, then I can start to serve God. I didn’t want to live such a hard life,” she said. 

After graduation from the university, Muzi found a satisfactory job, and planned to complete her dream of “earning enough money”. She still insisted on participating in church services during that period. After such a period of time, she fell into a painful and confusing situation, not knowing what to do in the future. It was then a sermon about money from a pastor that opened her eyes.

She thought to herself, “When will I make ‘enough’ money and how much money will I be satisfied with? Do I have to wait until I’m 70 or 80 years old to start to serve God? I don’t have much money, but I want to dedicate my precious youth to God. As for life, as the book of Proverbs says, I shall neither be poor nor rich, but God will give me enough.”

In this way, Muzi entered her dream seminary at her own expense. It was the beginning of a time of great memories and money struggles. 

In a few years of study, Muzi got to know many schoolmates, learned a great deal of theological knowledge, and realized the importance of continuous learning. She also experienced two sicknesses and was successfully treated. She had been out of school for a year and a half due to illness and had been disappointed in love, but after all these experiences, she felt there was a divine grace in everything.

Studying at her own expense, she had to experience the financial pressures some pastors are facing while she was on campus. At first, it was her parents who supplied her, which made her feel guilty. After all, it was embarrassing for her to rely on her parents when she was already an adult. Besides, those two years of being sick cost much money. In response, she wanted to find some way to make money.

Muzi tried to write articles to earn some contribution fees, and the church also began to give some subsidies to her. She has hardly spent any of her parents’ money in the past two years, thanks to subsidies and work-study jobs.

Now, in the face of the choice after graduation, for Muzi, salary is a part of her decision process, but not the biggest aspect. She concerns more about how to apply what she has learned. As what she learned in school is mostly book learning, and what she needs after graduation is practical practice. She feels a little nervous about this and also feels that the real beginning of learning is to serve the church.

 “All things happened until today are full of God’s grace.” In the face of the uncertain future, Muzi said, “When a few choices are in front of me, there will be some confusion, and I may not know how to choose. I hope that God can help me choose, and lead me to the most appropriate place. But I feel quite at peace because I feel that wherever I go, I’ll serve there at ease. I trust that God will have the best guidance for me.”

- Translated by Nicolas Cao

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