Vol.VII No.XII Pg.7
February 1971

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner


Is it right for a preacher to quit the ministry to take a secular job?


There is so much work crying to be done in so many places that we lament losing the efforts of any who quit. I understand their discouragement with brethren who refuse to treat them fairly and the problem of trying to make ends meet financially. I have brooded sitting where they sit, but I ask myself. Why did you begin to preach? No one expects to get rich preaching; discouraging and hard obstacles were expected. Love of souls, an awareness of the need for preachers. and a desire to be of service to Christ is why we all began. What has changed to make any of us quit? Perhaps we lost those unselfish motives.

Does a preacher have the right to quit full time work? Paul accepted church support (Phil. 4:15-f; 2 Cor. 11:8), but at other times he supported himself as a tentmaker (Act. 18:3). He even supplied others their needs with his own hands (Act. 20:34). Doubtless then a man may choose to accept or reject support as a full time preacher. He has the right to be a tentmaker. A preacher has no more obligation to continue in full time work than other qualified brethren have to begin such work Brethren condemn a preacher for quitting to become an insurance salesman. yet they offer no criticism for the insurance salesman who is capable of preaching but will not try. Such is not just judgement.

Now to the real point. Does any Christian have the right to quit the ministry — regardless of support. May a qualified man CHOOSE not to preach? Absolutely not! Paul said. . . .necessity is laid upon me: yea, woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel! (l Cor 9:16). He could choose to be a tentmaker but not to quit preaching. Make a living how you will but serve the Lord as ability and occasion require.

Oh, yes — the ministry is more than full time pulpit work. There is a ministry of the Gospel (Col. l:23) and of the word (Act. 6:4) which is the work of teaching truth. Every teacher — part time or full: man or woman: public or private — has part in this ministry. There is a ministry to Gospel preachers (Act. 19:22;

2 Tim. 1:18; Phm. 13). Christians who love truth and men who preach it become helpers to them (Rom. 16:3). Perhaps more preachers would stick-it-out if more brethren were busy helping them. Pauls ministry of reconciliation was bringing lost men to be at peace with God in Christ. How brethren need to awaken to such work! And there is the ministry to the saints (2 Cor. 9:1-f). Surely we need to participate in this work that God never forgets (Heb. 6:10) and by which we are judged (Mt. 25:31-46). Paul also ministered to the Lord (Act. 13:2). This evidently refers to the whole deportment of life in those who have become servants to God ( Rom. 6:22).

Quit the ministry? Never! Our ministry requires faithfulness unto death (Rev. 2:10). Let all saints ... . take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it (Col. 4:17). Joe Fitch