CONVERSATION WITH THE DIRECTOR OF MISSIONS: “That preacher!”

“You have a complaint, is that right?”

“I hate to sound negative. I’m sure the pastor is a good man.”

“But.”

“But there’s one thing he does that drives me up the wall and is probably going to drive me out of the church.”

“That’s a lot of driving.”

“He talks about money all the time. And I’ve had it up to here. And it’s not just me–a lot of people feel the same way.”

“A lot of people? Be specific.”

“Well, actually, it’s my brother-in-law and his wife, but we’re all agreed that if he doesn’t change his ways, we’re going to change our church.”

“That’s a lot of changing.”

“I don’t think you’re taking me seriously.”

“I am. It’s not like I’ve not heard this song before. I pastored for 42 years before becoming your director of missions.”

“So, what are you going to do about him?”

“Not a thing. He’s not the problem. You are.”

“Oh great. I knew I was making a mistake coming here.”

“No, you did the right thing. Because I’m not going to fool around and spare your feelings. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. You don’t need a thing from me and as far as I know, I’ll never see you again. So, there’s no reason in the world for me not to give it to you straight.”

“It sounds like you’re about to beat up on me.”

“That depends on your relationship with the Lord. If you love Him and want to grow in Him, then you will welcome someone who shows you your hypocrisies. But if you are in rebellion against God and living in sin, you will resent everything I say and will probably storm out of this office in the next three minutes.”

“I like a challenge. Go ahead. Give it your best shot.”

“Okay. Buckle your seat belt, friend. Here goes….


“There are only three reasons I can think of why you dislike your pastor mentioning money so much. One, you aren’t giving any and it makes you feel guilty. Two, you aren’t a Christian and haven’t the slightest idea of your responsibilities to God. And three, you do not love the church and could not care less whether it prospers or suffers.”

“That’s it? How about a fourth option, something like ‘I’m a good Christian and I give enough, but I don’t agree with the way they squander money down at the church.’ How about that one?”

“Won’t work. In the first place, no ‘good’ Christian ever feels he gives enough. He always would like to be doing better, giving more, and serving more effectively. It’s a sign of godliness and spirituality. And second, if you were a good Christian and felt the church was squandering money, you’d not be in here griping about it; you’d be in the pastor’s office having a heart-to-heart with him.”

“So, those three. That’s all the choices you’re giving me?”

“Either you aren’t giving and feel guilty, and his sermons stir up the guilt, or you aren’t really saved and don’t see yourself as owing anything to the Lord, or you think the church exists to serve you and you have no obligation to it. That’s it.”

“Take no prisoners. That’s a fine approach for a minister of the gospel to take.”

“How about ‘speak the truth in love.’ That’s all I’m doing. You ought to thank me for looking you in the eye and telling you the truth: you, sir, are a hypocrite. You ought to be ashamed of what you are doing.”

“What’s that?”

“You are starving your church by not giving the way God commanded, and then when your Shepherd calls your attention to it, you belly-ache. Unfortunately, you have a lot of company in the modern church.”

“You’ve heard this before, have you?”

“That’s why I’m so eloquent on the subject, friend. You are just the latest of a group of murmurers and complainers who have been afflicting the servants of God all the way back to Moses.”

“Well, assuming that I’m in one of those three categories you mentioned–that I’m not giving, I’m not saved, or I don’t love the church–what would you recommend?”

“That you get on your knees and apologize to God for your rebellious attitude. Repent of harassing His servant. Give yourself to the Lord completely and let Him tell you what you need to do.”

“Well, I’ll give it some thought later. Right now, I’ve got to get to work.”

“Where do you work?”

“At the World War II Museum here in New Orleans.”

“Ha! Are you serious?”

“You find that funny?”

“Oh, it’s hilarious. Considering what just came in the mail this morning. It’s another fund-raising letter from Nick Mueller, the president of the museum.”

“What about it?”

“Well, just last week I got a letter from him thanking me for the $100 I sent to renew my charter membership in the museum. And today, I get a letter to end all letters. He enclosed three envelopes for me to send money. Let me find it. Hold on.”

“Here it is. Listen to this. ‘Dear Mr. McKeever. I’ve enclosed three color-coded envelopes marked April 21, May 21, and June 21 for a very special reason. I’m asking you to make an important commitment to the National World War II Museum over the next 75 days.”

“He goes on to ask for $420 in three separate contributions of $140 each to the museum’s fundraising campaign. I am more than a little flabbergasted.”

“Why? It takes money to run the museum and build the grand memorials we have planned.”

“Sure it does. That’s why I sent my hundred dollars. But look, the more I send, the more letters I get asking for more.”

“I see your point, I suppose. But this is a mighty important work. And well, it pays my salary, so I guess I’m not very objective about it.”

“Uh huh. So, it’s all right for the museum to be hounding us for more and more money, but if the preacher mentions tithing or stewardship, you get all huffy and self-righteous. You make me sick.”

“I think that ends this conversation.”

“It will in just a second, right after I give you the scripture that has been burning in my brain ever since you walked in. This one has your name all over it, friend.”

“Uh oh. Here it comes.”

“Jesus said, ‘Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.’ That’s Matthew 6:21. That’s what clued me in that you’re not giving anything of any significance to your church. Because if your treasure were there, your heart would be also, and you’d be in here asking my counsel on how to get more people giving. The person who teaches you to give more of your treasure into the Kingdom of God has done you a tremendous favor, friend. He is helping you to love the Lord more and to get your values straight. He’s helping you to lay up treasure in Heaven.”

“In Heaven?”

“That’s what Jesus said in the verse just before this one. ‘Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.'”

“Well, it’s been fun, but I’ve gotta go to work.”

“You’re right about that.”

“About what?”

“It’s time you got to work on the really important things in your life.”

“That’s the first thing you’ve said today I agree with.”

9 thoughts on “CONVERSATION WITH THE DIRECTOR OF MISSIONS: “That preacher!”

  1. Joe,

    Great article — so much so, I want to send it to someone who wrote me a letter a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, he or she did not sign a name or include a return address. I read it only because an assistant failed to properly screen it.

    Thanks again,

    Paul

  2. Hey Bro. Joe! Thats pretty ironic because our pastor just recently gave a very similar sermon in our church because he had so many people ridiculing him for going an entire month preaching on money and finances. I just don’t understand how people can be so ignorant, and then when they are convicted, they just get angry at the church or the pastor. All I have to say, is that you got right to the point in this one! I liked it a lot!

    Molly<><

  3. As they say in pre-school, Joe, Good Job!! I think there’s almost no chance that this was a tongue-in-cheek story. As shy as you are about teaching what God has to say about what He has blessed us with, I know this was hard for you. (Now that WAS tongue-in-cheek.

    As Dad would usually say, “The bit dog always hollers.”

  4. Straight and to the point. That is what I like about your articles. If more ministers would preach about our heart and treasures, when the preach on stewardship, maybe it would open some eyes. Not that it would change their minds on how much they “give”, but maybe make them think and keep their complaining mouths shut. Thanx for the message.

    David

  5. JOe: A very good article! Several years ago in a church I was serving we were having difficulty in making bond payments etc. Most months we did end in the black with $100.00 left in the bank. This was an item of discussion in our business meetings on more than one occassion. How are we going to meet our bills?

    After the business meeting was dismissed I had all the people to stay that I wanted to talk with them. I began by telling them how we could meet our obligations and have money enough to do our work. At that time I held up the pay check that I received the Sunday before Wed. night business session. “This is my pay check from last Sunday. At the present time the only money in my bank account is borrowed money. I am endorsing this check back to the church,” and did so publicly and handed it to the treasurer. I then said, “Now I challenge each one of you to give a weeks salary this coming Sunday to the church! This will solve our worries for the present time.” No one made any comment but a few were shaking their heads. We dismissed and went home. I did not hear much griping after that. We met all of our obligations on time and the Lord blessed.

    This was not an easy thing to do but I felt that God was leading me in the situation. Our family survived as well as the church.

  6. I recall several years ago when I visited a very large church here in Huntsville.

    I had some bad problems with personal relationships and had not been in any church for a long time.

    I was hurting and really wanted to hear a good message about the love of Jesus for all sinners (like me).

    What I got instead was a 45 minute request for money in order to build a large building for some purpose or other.

    That episode left me even more depressed than when I went in.

  7. Right on Joe as always.

    A number of years ago, one of our men and I were out visiting. He said, Preacher, I don’t mean to complain but there are some people who think that you talk an awful lot about money. I said, “Let me guess, he lives in a brick house, drives a Cadillac and gives $5 a week whether he can affford it or not.” He said, “You are right on target. He does drive a Cadillac, his house is not brick, but it is real nice and I am on the Counting Committee and that is what he gives.” Of course, I had no idea about the details, but I got real close. End of that discussion. Let’s see, “what kind of church would our church be, if every member gave just like me?”

    Keep up the good work, Joe. You are an ecourager who stands men on their feet.

    Jimmy Griffith