By Dennis Wiggs
Don’t avoid things in life you just don’t want to consider. You’d rather put them on the back burner, thinking, “l’m young. Nothing is going to happen to me.” Tell that to women who become widows at a young age. Some things are too important to avoid, even if they are difficult to think about.
The honest, thinking, practical young pastor should consider the following. It is best to repair the roof when the sun is shining. Good health and exuberant life today may change tomorrow. It is not wise to put off to tomorrow what should be done today.
“More preachers die of heartache than heart attack,” someone said. However, young preachers do die! Young preachers often live in parsonages. What would happen to your wife if she called 911 tonight, and Paramedics pronounced you dead on the floor of that home that is not yours?
She would be required to move out and make room for the new pastor’s family. What would your bereaved mate do? Life insurance could meet this financial need. Term life insurance can be purchased inexpensively. How much coverage should you purchase? A good rule of thumb is at least 10 times your annual salary (although some experts suggest 15 or 20%). In case of your untimely death, your wife and children should not face significant financial challenges.
Lose your voice and you can’t preach. Suffer a stroke or heart attack and be laid up for weeks, perhaps the rest of your life. Government disability often takes months to receive. Why don’t you consider a short-term disability policy? Or maybe even a long-term policy?
Most young pastors live from week to week, stretching the salary just as far as possible. But make it a priority to set aside a few dollars each week for the future by exercising financial discipline.
Begin early; profit later. Begin a savings account. Build it up to provide a buffer against the everyday emergencies of life. Invest in stocks or mutual funds. Sign the reinvestment form and allow the dividends to grow.
A monthly contribution to the retirement plan available from the Board of Retirement would be a wise investment. Thirty years of consistent investing will produce a much-needed harvest when you reach the end of the ministerial road.
In the event of your death, your spouse and children will have some financial security.
Young preacher, your most prized possession should be your mate. Date your mate while your children are at home. Don’t let the ones God has loaned you stand in the way of enjoying the presence of your wife. Before you know it, the youngsters will be grown. Enjoy her company now.
Take her out to eat once a week. Schedule a few days of rest and relaxation once a year without the children. Write her love notes. Treat her like a queen. Remember, we marry for “better or worse.” Sometimes the worse invades even a young pastor’s home. Be prepared for the rainy days by enjoying the sunshine today.
If the Lord blesses a young pastor with children, those youngsters should be dedicated to the Lord in the crib. How long will the Lord allow you to have those precious ones? Many young pastors and their wives have buried a child. It is crucial for the man of God to rear his children in the ways of the Lord.
Spend time with them. Tell them you love them, and do it several times a day. Give your children your undivided attention when he or she needs to vent feelings. That television ball game can wait. The messy office can be straigtened later. Even church responsibilities may need to take a back seat to your children.
Exercise stewardship of your children as if the Lord might remove them from your care at any day.
The young pastor would benefit by locking two deeds in a safe place—the deed to a home and the deed to a cemetery lot. Purchasing a home may be the best financial investment a preacher makes. But the smallest piece of land you will ever buy may come in handy if the Lord chooses to remove you from your family’s presence.
It is never too early to contemplate this purchase. Even if your body is destined for a family plot near the home place, it may be wise to get a deed and save your wife this trouble, if you die unexpectedly.
Gruesome, you think. As a healthy, young man, I know it is hard to embrace your own mortality. I’m sure this will not be your favorite article. However, face facts. If you don’t make these plans and decisions now, it will be too late when death or disabilities strike. I challenge you to give careful consideration to these words. Your spouse may thank me in a few years, even though I hope that is not the case.
About the Writer: Dennis Wiggs retired in 2004 after many years in ministry.
Adapted from Contact magazine, November 1999.