You Might Need to Ask

You Might Need to Ask

A 2019 Lifeway Research study found that “3 in 4 (76%) retirement-age ministers are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably through retirement, with 31% saying they are very confident. Still, almost half (47%) say they are often concerned about their family’s financial security. And 27% say their physical needs or those of their spouse have caused significant financial strain.”1.

We asked longtime MBC pastor, Richie Rhea, to weigh in on planning for retirement. Here is his post.

You may be in your twenties, and the thought of retirement seems like an eternity away. Or you may feel certain you will always have a place of ministry and a means of financial support. Let me remind you what the scriptures say about the shortness of life. Something about a breath on a cold morning: trust me, the years will fly by. If you are 25 and in ministry, you are only days away from turning 70. At least it’s going to feel that way! So, let this older brother give you some advice: it is never too early to start planning for your retirement.

Is it Wise to Prepare Financially for the Future?

Let’s agree that preparing financially for our older years is important. Proverbs 6:6-9 sums this up well: “Ants have no leader, but they gather food in the summer and save it for winter.” Proverbs 21:20 says, “The house of the wise has stores of food and oil, but the foolish man devours all he has.”

On one hand, we are not to put our faith in uncertain riches. We are to firmly put our faith in Christ. Jesus taught us that the Lord who clothes the grass of the field will clothe us. We are to have faith in Him and not be anxious about tomorrow. We are to seek first His kingdom. (Matthew 6:30-34) We are so blessed. The Lord will meet all our needs according to His riches in glory!

At the same time, learning to be content in whatever the situation, Paul wrote Holy Spirit-inspired thank you letters, partly for the financial support he had received. “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.” (Philippians 4:14–15 ESV)

To Prepare for Retirement, You Might Need to Ask

One important thing to understand is that it’s okay for pastors to ask for financial support. That includes support for those future days when they may not be able to serve or may not have a place to serve. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with leaving an inheritance to your children and deserving ministries.

This article is not about prayer. Exactly. It’s about asking your church family, which supports you with a salary, to consider contributing to your retirement fund. But prayer is certainly the best place to start.

It’s amazing. Prayer. We can talk to God all the time. We are even taught in scripture to pray without ceasing. Prayer includes all kinds of wonderful flavors. We worship, respond to the conviction of God’s Spirit, ask for cleansing, seek wisdom, receive the love of Christ, and much more. The scriptures teach us to ask. Consider these verses,

1 John 5:14–15
[14] And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. [15] And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (ESV)

And then there’s this.

James 4:2b
You do not have, because you do not ask. (ESV)

Asking is okay! It is a good thing to ask the Lord. God says to ask.

If it’s good to ask God, then can it be wrong regarding our relationships with others? Leaders ask those they lead for helpful follow-through. Parents ask their children for loving obedience. Children ask their parents questions about everything. The path to your retirement starts by asking questions.

Seek Advice and Start Planning

Let me encourage you to seek out some counsel about your retirement funding. You can check with the Missouri Baptist Convention and the resources they recommend.

Then, plan a meeting with the persons or committee that could hear your request. Go to the meeting with a plan. Be prepared to answer questions. Ask.

For example, you may want to ask for a set percentage of your compensation package to fund your retirement. I think 7% would be a great place to start, with the goal of 10%. Perhaps an amount that is then sent each month to Guide Stone. In that way, your funding will grow with your salary over the years. You may want to ask that a funding policy be established for your entire church staff.

Many Churches Won’t Provide Unless Asked

Many churches are funny about supporting their pastors. They love their pastors. They want to cheer them on. But when it comes to financial support, even believers often move away from generosity and “double honor” when it comes to dollars. They may not mean to be stingy. They may even see their stinginess as a wise, cautious, and protective attitude toward ministry funding. And yet, when asked, when given supporting information, they are likely to agree with you. They just need to be asked.

Whether you are just starting in ministry or have been in ministry for years, you must prepare for your future. It starts by realizing that sometimes you might need to ask questions to ensure you are in the 76% of ministers who say they care and are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably through retirement. To be in that number, you might need to start asking.


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