Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Curious Case Of The Zero Dollar Chef

In my post, dated 4 April 2009, entitled "The Curious Case Of The Half A Million Dollar Chef", I used the parable of a restaurant and its chef to talk about the relevance of the salary of my senior pastor, Pastor Joseph Prince which the news media had found out and reported to be about $500,000.

Well, Pastor Prince just announced last Sunday at the Singapore Expo (where New Creation Church held its Sunday services instead of Suntec City as it has been "commandeered" for the Apec Summit) that the church board, after four years of objections, has finally acceded to his request to be removed from the church's payroll. In effect, he has just "demoted" himself from the Half-A-Million-Dollar Chef to the Zero-Dollar Chef.

Just as it did not matter to me then that Pastor Prince was paid $500,000 a year, it does not matter to me now that he is paid a big fat $0. What matters to me are the sermons he preach week after week, whether those sermons are glorifying Jesus and helping me to know Jesus more and more, because that is the measure of his calling.

Let me ask you: "How do you measure the performance of a pastor? How do you conclude whether a pastor is a good pastor or not?" Some Christians (or maybe even non-Christians looking in) may feel a pastor is good because he knows many members by name, visits the sick, is easily accessible whenever a member needs help or counseling, etc. While these traits may be seen in a good pastor, I firmly believe that the true measure of a good pastor is his sermons. If you don't feel fed by the pastor's sermons or the Holy Spirit in you somehow does not agree with the pastor's sermons, then he is not a good pastor for you.

Frankly speaking, visiting the sick or praying for you, etc can be a show (I'm not saying that it is but that it can be) put on by the pastor and if we base our assessment on these aspects, we will be deceived. At the risk of sounding like a broken record player, the true test is the pastor's sermon. When you hear the sermon being preached by the pastor, are you hearing the voice of man or the voice of God? 1 Thessalonians 2:13 says "And we also [especially] thank God continually for this, that when you received the message of God [which you heard] from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the Word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe [exercising its superhuman power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it]."

The pastor cannot fake a sermon because he needs the Holy Spirit to speak through him. When you hear a pastor's sermon and it starts sounding like "the word of [mere] men" instead of the "Word of God", then you know that something is not right with this pastor; something must be happening in his life which is causing him to avoid God and close his ears to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He can still churn out "sermons" for a while based on his head knowledge and his training in theological college but there will be no life in those sermons.

Have you heard such lifeless pastors before? I have but I shall not name them here; instead, I'll like to introduce you to preachers who preach life, who preach JESUS - Joseph Prince, Andrew Wommack, Joel Osteen, Paul White, Åge M. Åleskjær, Peter Youngren, Steve Mcvey ...

So, how is the chef going to survive now that he is earning a $0 salary? I don't know but Pastor Prince is not worried; he told us to watch and see what the Lord will do. I eagerly await his testimony ... watch this space ;-)

Psalm 35:27-28 (NKJV)
27 Let them shout for joy and be glad,
Who favor my righteous cause;
And let them say continually,
Let the LORD be magnified,
Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.
28 And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness
And of Your praise all the day long.


5 comments:

news said...

Dear Stanley,

Thank you for your blog post. I am a member of New Creation Church and have been following your blog. I'd like to say too, that I have been blessed by your blog ever since I started reading a year ago.

In this latest post, I have a disagreement, although I do not know if I have interpreted your blog post correctly. You said

"How do you conclude whether a pastor is a good pastor or not?" Some Christians (or maybe even non-Christians looking in) may feel a pastor is good because he knows many members by name, visits the sick, is easily accessible whenever a member needs help or counseling, etc. While these traits may be seen in a good pastor, I firmly believe that the true measure of a good pastor is his sermons."

I do not believe that a good pastor is only measured by his sermons. That statement seems to be suggesting that only churches who have a strong preaching anointing are good churches.

I'd give you one example of what I believe are good pastors outside of sermons. I know of Pastors both within and outside New Creation who do not preach but continuously show the love of Christ to the people around them. The love and the light of Christ is shown through the actions of the person who unconditionally loves me in spite of my sins. And these pastors have led many to Christ as well. We all know that at the core, it is Christ living through them which enables them. But what I am saying is, the life of Christ in a pastor is not only exemplified through sermons. There are many other ways which Pastors deliver Christ to people. Pastor Keith, Pastor Mathews, Pastor Gabriel are some examples within NCC who do not necessarily have to preach, but shine the light of Christ to the people around them. I honor them, I truly do.

Perhaps you can share some thoughts on this. I understand where you are coming from, and it is like what Pastor Peter Youngren said before: "I used to think I am from the healing ministry, now I know I am only in JESUS MINISTRY."

Stanley Wong said...

Hi news,
I also honour all the other pastors in NCC but it is my personal opinion (you are entitled to yours, of course) that even they too should be judged by their sermons (if and when they get a chance to preach) because that is the ultimate calling of a pastor, just as the ultimate calling of a striker is to score goals.

Yes, a striker may be able to hold the ball up and bring other players into play (like Emile Heskey), he may track back and help out the defence (like Dirk Kuyt) but if he can't score, his value as a striker is limited. What the coach really wants and values from a striker is a goal every other game, like Fernando Torres.

Hence, a pastor may be able to perform a lot of other functions well but if he can't preach the Good News about Christ, he is better off being the church administrator rather than pastor.

The Logical Mouse said...

Seems like JP is really better than Jesus.

I still play with dolls said...

Pastor Prince has Joseph Prince Ministries ("JPM") and his sermons and books are sold via JPM - so I believe he will be financially compensated through that instead.

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Ispwd,
Pastor Prince has explained before that JPM is registered in the US as a non-profit organization, and all income generated through JPM does not go to him. All the directors and managers involved in running JPM are also not paid any salary.