I come from a Christian ministry background and am still very involved in helping others connect more deeply with God and live out their unique, God-given purposes (if you’re interested in knowing more about that check out www.TruVineMission.com). I know that often the pastors, churches, and tele-evangelists who are more interested in getting money than helping people get the most press, but I know first-hand that most people who go into vocational ministry do not do it for the money. If you do some research, you will see that the pastors of most churches are severely underpaid and overworked. By far, the highest percentages have hearts that want to help people; not get rich.
I am no exception. I too want to follow Jesus’ example of giving away the good news for free, helping the poor, the hopeless, the addicted, and the abused find new life. From my personal experience, which is by no means comprehensive well over 90% of people involved in Christian ministry would choose impact over income in a second.
Pastors are also very aware that money is an important part of life. Jesus Himself, though He chose to live a sacrificial life-style, taught using stories about money and management more than any other real-life examples. Jesus was a brilliant communicator and He knew that EVERYONE understood you need money to live in this world. As a matter of fact, Jesus said, how we manage our time, talent, and treasure would play a big role in how well we do in living God’s purposes.
This is where there is a strong overlap between Biblical teaching and business and social emphasis. Everyone knows that when poverty rates are high, all kinds of other problems increase. Crime, marital problems, family breakdowns, and educational quality all decrease or fall apart in poverty stricken areas. Being poor or going without in order to help others can be a very noble and Christ-like thing to do; but poverty itself is a big, big negative. The Bible clearly teaches that poverty is a curse, not a blessing, unless chosen intentionally to serve others (ala Mother Teresa).
Back to my dilemma; I know money is needed to live and help others but I hate charging money or asking for money when God has given me His grace and love for free. Jesus even said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” I know what it’s like to be tight financially, want help, coaching, or a program that can help me do better and not have the money to purchase it. Regarding the services I offer, I know many good people are struggling and I have something that can really help them; but I don’t want to charge them for it or charge them a lot for it. When they are having trouble paying their mortgage or feeding the kids, how can I charge them what I need to live? Nevertheless, I need to pay my bills, provide for my family, and not be a burden to an already overwhelmed social net designed to help the truly incapacitated.
Some people have absolutely no problem in charging people for their services and products. They either believe their product/service is fantastic and well worth the investment or they are so focused on making money that it never even enters their head to think about those who cannot afford to pay. But I am not like that and I’ve discovered there are many others, some from other belief systems that feel the same way. There are many that sincerely want to help people with their knowledge and skills and wish they could just give it away.
The 3I Overlap is Real
What I continue to learn is this; there is often a direct correlation between the impact we have, the income we earn, and the independence we experience. Organizations that either impact a large number of people or impact a smaller number deeply, if managed well, earn a good deal of income. Income enables organizations to help more people and increase their impact so they are free to explore and lead at greater levels. At one level the phrase, “money makes the world go round”, is very true. Unless you are living in the isolated jungles of South America, you need money to live and you need money to make a difference. Even Jesus had a group of supporters that funded His ministry because He and His team also needed food and shelter to live. Even though Jesus had direct pipeline to the Creator of the Universe He was funded by people who believed in His mission.
If an individual or organization is managed well (and that is a very big IF) then the greater their impact then the greater the opportunity for income. Flipping it around, in most cases, the greater the income the greater the opportunity for impact. Organizations with a large following have greater influence in society than those with smaller followings and have a greater possibility of wealth. A smaller group can increase the 3I’s if they go deeper with a smaller group; but they are still related. With wealth, organizations can develop better services and products, helping more people at a deeper level and give more away to not-for-profits or directly to truly needy people.