… for the superb leadership given by our pastors and staff. In fact, if you ask me what is the most important thing in our budget, I would say salaries -- the salaries of our pastor and staff. Odd, you might think, for someone as committed to missions as I am to say that.
But I think back to 1992 when we joined Duke Memorial. Since then, the list of senior pastors we have had has been outstanding: Mark Wethington, Ruth Harper Stevens, Jim Bell, Ginger Thomas and Roger Owens, Will Willimon, and now Heather Rodrigues. Saints, every one of them, each in their own way.
And anyone who (like me) has been a pastor will know how much these people have given us, day by day, year by year. Leta and I, yes, all of us at Duke Memorial, are in their debt.
You know, the life of a pastor is totally beyond being able to be scheduled. Why? Because people’s events (births, deaths, illnesses, crises) don’t happen at a set time, but at every time of the day and night. And soon after they do, we call our pastor and we say HELP! Of course, the staff also carries much of this responsibility.
Some of you sitting here can remember twice as many pastors as I can in this church. For some of you, Heather will be the only pastor you’ve known here, or maybe anywhere. But however your memory runs, I ask you to think about this question:
If everyone gave exactly the same percentage of their income as YOU give, would we have such a great pastor as Heather? How can you be sure you give your fair share?
Some would say, you give the tithe (10%). Others would say, you give until it hurts. Others would say, you give until it feels right. I would say, you give what a loving God asks you to give: all of your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, your witness… Then you decide how much of your financial gift to share with the church.
I am grateful.