We drive a vehicle that requires expensive gas. According to the manufacturer, in order for our car to run well and last a long time, I can’t just use regular gas. But I did anyway.
To me, the sticker shock of mid-grade gas didn’t seem worth it. Yeah, so our vehicle wouldn’t run quite as smoothly. It’d be fine, I thought. I could run the cheaper fuel and save cash. It was economical.
Then, one day, I heard a knock.
Suddenly, I listened to my engine more intently and far more concerned with my car’s health. So I decided to splurge and buy the mid-grade gas. Lo and behold, the knock immediately went away, and the heart of our beast sounded like it had just rolled off the lot.
It struck me; my stinginess had been slowly killing my car. But I had a conundrum. Surely I couldn’t afford to buy mid-grade gas in perpetuity. That was a luxury reserved for rich folk with fancy cars, not pastors with decade-old SUV’s. So I ran the numbers.
I discovered that running the more expensive fuel would only cost me $10 more per tank.
$10 more per tank was potentially the difference between our only vehicle dying an early death and it trucking along for years to come. Suddenly, I felt foolish, and I immediately apologized to our car.
The truth is that as pastors, we often fall into the trap of stingy economics.
We sincerely appreciate our congregation’s generosity and feel a responsibility to steward the money they give. So we look for ways that we can stretch each and every dollar. But if we’re not careful, our good stewardship can turn into being cheap.
You need a computer to run the lyrics for your worship service, so you buy a refurbished IBM.
You need a camera to live stream your service, so you accept the camcorder from 1992 that Aunt Myrtle had lying around.
You need some lighting for your stage, so you buy the Chinese knock-offs from Amazon.
They all seem like great ideas and even better stewardship. Until all of a sudden, you realize, your stinginess is hurting your ministry.
That computer freezes up every week in the middle of the set and kills the intimate moment of worship. You get that camera to work with your live stream after investing 30 hours that could have been spent counseling your elder who just lost their job. The lights you bought worked great for 10 minutes, then promptly died, caught on fire, burned your church down, and now you’re ordering new ones.
Ok, maybe it doesn’t get that bad. But there are times when it is worth it to pay a little more upfront for something to ensure that you can be useful in your ministry. It is worth it to have the tools you need to do ministry at your disposal and to have them work well.
There are times when the cheaper option is genuinely the better option. But where in your life is your stinginess killing ministry?
It may be with some piece of technology or a coffee maker. It could also be a quality benefits package or paid time off. There is likely something in your life that seems out of reach because its cost is just too high, but having it could be the difference between healthy sustainable ministry and constant frustration.
I’d encourage you to reconsider. Work it out, do the math, and factor in not just the cost of the item but the cost of not having it. Consider the potential time wasted making a cheaper version work, the cost on your ministry if a product fails, or the toll your burnout will take on your church if you don’t take that vacation.
Suddenly, the cost of that premium gas may not actually be as high as you think.