Demanding Accountability From Pastors and ... Tackling Greed

I promised a second part to this post and here I am fulfilling that promise.


This component will focus mainly on greed. For a vice as destructive as greed, it, quite interestingly, does not seem to garner much attention. But if you evaluate the root of a lot of issues in the Church, in our society, you can trace it back to greed. Or quite simply, the ardent desire for more and more, for excessiveness, for gain, for obscene wealth. It is why we have societies that continue to exploit the poor so that a few rich can continue to amass wealth they have no use of. It is why men in political offices refuse to stand for principles and values because they crave political power and would rather cower and retain that power than speak truth to power and lose it. 

In the last post, I hinted about the allegations against the Lindseys. I want to reiterate that this is not about any one pastor or any one couple. It is about the body of Christ and our responsibility while here on earth. It is about our role as ambassadors of Christ if that's what we claim we are. It is why I want to draw specifically on the excessiveness among Christians. There is too much obsession with materialism and fame. One of the people I have talked about throughout this series for instance would post vague things on Instagram, deliberately disguising the fact that they were paid to advertise that product. Isn't that unethical? But that's just the beginning.

To be more specific, ask yourself this very important question. Why do pastors own private jets? I don't get angry easily. Okay, that's a lie. I do. But few things anger me as much as pastors owning private jet. NO NO NO NO NO NO. Why? Forget the debilitating harm it causes the environment, you would never be able to justify that manner of excessiveness to me. Closely related to that, I have heard people complain about pastors wearing watches that cost tens of thousands of dollars.  It is a complicated conversation for sure. Because I don't want us to police what people wear. I will say though that I am strongly averse to greed. And there is no way to convince me that materialism has no correlation with greed. By themselves, these things have no moral value—they are not inherently good or bad. I don't even think owning things make pastors terrible people. But it speaks to their character. If the "stuff"; the blings, jets, fast lifestyle matter to you as much as the word of God, something is wrong. 

Even as a regular person who is not in any way a Christian leader or pastor or anything like that, I think we should all be averse to getting stuff just because; just as a status symbol; just to acquire meaningless things every single day. It is why I expect that as someone with any modicum of anointing, you should be called or you should assume a bigger responsibility of decency. Because decency is not about the hypocrisy of not wearing short skirts but about character and good deeds. I am worried about a need to just continue to acquire more and more and more and more. 

Nothing people in these positions love more than using the Bible to tell you why you should mInD yOuR bUsInEsS [when you demand accountability!] or why fEmInIsM iS eViL [it's not!] or why you should not wear short skirts [wear what you want! No, really.]  or why the man is tHe HeAd Of ThE hOuSe [ridiculous, I call BS!] or why certain people will go to hell fire [some probably won't or maybe they will, who even really knows?!], so let's also take a good look at what that same bible says about greed.  Christ admonished the Pharisees and teachers of the law as filthy, not literally unclean but filled with greed and self-indulgence [Matthew 23: 25]. To be greedy, to be so self-indulgent [synonyms: luxurious, excessive, extravagant] was to be filthy according to Christ. He wasn't even saying this about the regular joes, he was saying it about the leaders, those who held (or who should have held) themselves to higher standards. 

In Micah 6 (10-16), when God was laying out the accusations against Israelites, you know what he mentioned? The "obscene wealth they have piled up by cheating and fraud". Unlike your faves, I will not take this verses out of context. So let's do context. The running theme across the Matthew 23 chapter and Micah 6 is justice, compassion, matters of the heart.  God continued in Micah 6 with, "No matter how much you get, it will never be enough—hollow  stomachs, empty hearts". In Ephesians 5:5, Paul wrote that we can be sure no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the  Kingdom of God because, he continues, placing emphasis on the greedy part, a greedy person is an idolater who worships the things of the world. It is that simple. 

To be fair, even apart from greedy pastors who want the fanciest cars and most lavish houses, I am getting increasingly uncomfortable with the greed that remains pervasive in our culture. This is not the model Jesus or any of his disciples or Paul left for us. Why do we never know when to say enough? Why must we keep acquiring more and more. We want more money. We want private jets. We want obscene wealth. And frankly, on some level, this signifies a lack of trust in God. 

I remember listening to Chelsea Fagan, who definitely isn't a Christian, but she once said the opportunity to increase her salary (she is the CEO and co-founder of a personal finance company, The Financial Diet) came up and she declined because well, she just had enough. She said she would rather have other members of staff and maybe even the company receive the money or grow or whatever. I thought, how many people can ever have this level of contentment? How many? It is almost impossible to see this sort of contentment among Christians.  Now granted, Chelsea’s husband earns pretty well too and maybe that’s part of the equation. I don’t know. But I aspire to that level of contentment, where I can truly say "enough", and give to someone else. I need Christian leaders to model this level of contentment and modesty. 

I remember John Gray and his recent headline from a year or two ago where he bought this lavish car or something, and there was backlash. His response was he did not use the church's money to buy this six-figure value car. That's all good and dandy but it's not about that. It's about more than that. I really think (and I am open to counterarguments) that as a pastor, it is your responsibility to model modesty—again  not the type of modesty obsessed with women's bodies and what they wear—but the type that is focused on shunning materialism and showing off. 

What Christ wants for us, is to invest in the kingdom of heaven; is to not be so obsessed with money or fame or material things.  Don't get me wrong: wealth, money, those things are not inherently bad.  Let me repeat for y'all at the back: money is NOT inherently bad. Being financially and materially successful is not necessarily always a bad thing. After all, even John prayed that we  proper in all things and be in health just as our soul prospers (3 John 1:2).  There is so much good you can do with it: such as taking care of your family, friends, strangers, or I don't know, just living fully.  But we have to remember to question our desires, our wants,  and we must search our hearts. This is not just about money even; it's about things, fame, attention, pride, showing off, arrogance. It's about our hearts. And yes, I still think there is such a thing as too much money. I really do.  The weird part is, while more money can make us happy, there is a plateau where any more than that and it doesn't really matter anymore. And TRUST me, that figure is NOT as much as you think. In fact, you get to a particular figure and happiness begins to decrease. I am in fact quoting scientific studies

I don't want to be so smug as to claim I don't deal with my own share of greed or that I don't like the finer things of live; oh you bet I do. But that's the difference, I recognize our collective problem and everyday try to deal with it. And more importantly, I want our Christian leaders to deal with it. I want them to model something better for the rest of us. I want them to do better. 

I want Christians to be open to more accountability, transparency, and oversight. There is nothing like Christian leaders and defensiveness when accused of something. Instead, that is exactly the time to model Christ. To be gentle, patient, humble, and quite frankly filled with repentance. 

There is a phenomenal prayer in Proverbs (30:7-9) that I think pastors (we all, really) need to constantly remember:

O God, I beg two favors from you;

Let me have them before I die.

First, help me never to tell a lie

Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!

Give me just enough to satisfy my needs

For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say

'Who is the Lord?'

And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name. 




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