Friday, April 3, 2009

On "controversial" salary , "wrong" explanation, and "incorrect" actions - a dialogue

HOW MUCH SHOULD A PASTOR BE PAID?

maic123 asked:
"Would that...mean that because [Pastor Prince] does such a great job, he should be paid a high salary?"

Lip Kee's comment:
To be sure, I am not the one who decides Pastor Prince's salary. I don't know how his salary was decided. Maybe it is a fixed amount. Maybe it is based on the total collection by the church. I don't know.

As to how much Pastor Prince SHOULD be paid, I suppose everyone will have his own benchmark. Personally, because I received so much from his ministry, I believe he should not be paid less then some of the cabinet ministers in Singapore. But of course, this is just my personal opinion. I don't claim to represent anyone other than myself. :)

I think if I were to ask the question to 100 persons, I would probably get 101 different answers.

How much do you think he should be paid? What is your benchmark? Would you care to explain why you think your benchmark is a better one compared to mine? (For convenience sake and for the purpose of this discussion, I would use a cabinet minister's pay as the benchmark).


WHO USED THE WORD "PEANUTS" TO DESCRIBE THE PAY?

maic123 asked:
"However, for some NCC defenders to claim that because PP brings in 95% of church Rev, because PP is responsible for explosive growth of NCC...etc therefore $500k is peanuts..."

Lip Kee's comment:
I would appreciate it if you could let me know who was the person who used the word "peanuts"? I know I didn't. I know it's a very sensitive word. Almost a vulgar word, I would say.

maic123 asked:
"It is God that gave the growth, it is God that provided the members wealth, it is God that touched members hearts to give. PP is merely the instrument."

Lip Kee's comment:
I totally agree with you. :)


HOW ARE WE TO COMPARE THE REWARDS AMONG THE DIFFERENT SERVERS OF GOD?

maic123 asked:
"If the rational is to reward the instrument, how about the missionaries who sacrified their lives going to dangerous countries to spread the gospel, living in porvety and giving up their all for God, don't they deserve to be paid more than PP?"

Lip Kee's comment:
I am sorry I will not be able to give you an answer.

I respect everyone who serves God. I cherish every precious life.

But I am not the one who decides on Pastor Prince's pay check amount. I am also not the person responsible for determining the pay check (or lack of one) for the missionaries, whom I highly respect.

More importantly, I don't think it is appropriate for me to use the size of monetary reward to measure the worthiness of any servers of God.

Who am I to say that I, who serve as a caregroup leader should deserve to be blessed more than another believer who serves as an usher in church? Who am I to decide that my friend, who is a pastor of a small church in Singapore should deserve more pay than a house church leader in China?

All I can only say is that the missionaries who serve God deserve my full respect. And Pastor Prince deserves my full respect. But of course, this is just my personal opinion. I don't pretend to represent anyone other than myself. :)

maic123 wrote:
Sorry I used the word peanuts. I added the word myself to sort of summarize the meaning I thought some of the defenders of NCC was trying to convey, that 500k salary is nothing compared to what Pastor Prince has done.

Lip Kee's comment:
Apology accepted. :)


A FEW POINTERS ON COMMUNICATING ACCURATELY

Just to share some lessons I've learned about communication (from my past work experiences as a police investigator and an auditor):

Always stick to the facts. Do not assume. Do not speculate. Do not allege. Do not accuse. Make sure. Seek to clarify the facts if unsure. Ask questions. Do research. Check and re-check. Stick to the facts.

And when expressing a personal view or opinion, I would state so clearly. i would qualify my statement using words such as "my view", "my opinion". i would make it clear that I am NOT presenting objective facts, but subjective views and opinions.

If I believe my view or opinion has the potential of being controversial, I would weigh the words I use very carefully. I would remind myself not to come across as being judgmental. I will apply the golden rule and be respectful (not diplomatic) and gentle (not soft).


HOW SHOULD THE CHURCH COUNCIL RESPOND TO THE PRESS QUERY?

maic123 wrote:
However, in the explanation given by the church to justify his salary, the church basically is saying that Pastor Prince is "responsible" for the church income and enriched the church, so he certainly deserves that salary due to the results he is producing. I think that is wrong. It is God that produces the result.

Lip Kee's comment:
Please bear in mind that Deacon Matthew Kang made those statements in response to The Straits Times' query on NCC's staff salary. See the full reply here: http://www.newcreation.org.sg/aboutus/media_coverage/NCCreply_to_ST_300309.pdf

Now, let's put yourself in Deacon Matthew Kang's position. The Straits Times refers you to the church's annual report and asks you about the church staff who drew an annual salary of between $500k to $550k as reported in the annual report for the financial year ended 31 March 2008.

How will you respond to the query?

Please bear in mind that you are representing the church, and you are talking to a secular press. Now, what would you say: "No comment"; "No specific reason"; "God told us to give that amount"?

Deacon Matthew Kang had to give an explanation. And he had to give an explanation that the secular press and the public at large could understand. Wouldn't you agree? He had to make a statement. A "sensible and reasonable" one (for the secular press and the general public, not just for the church and believers).

If you were in his shoe, what kind of a "sensible and reasonable" statement would you make?


WOULD A MONTHLY INCOME OF $18,000 STUMBLE YOU?

maic123 wrote:
However, should this salary be too controversial and it causes other brothers to fall in sin, then its better not to exercise that freedom.

Lip Kee's comment:
Hmm...why would a salary that is "too controversial" cause other brothers to "fall in sin"? What kind of "sin" are you referring to? Would you care to explain or clarify?

I suggest we take a step back and look at the bigger picture:
Pastor Prince received an annual salary of around $550k from NCC in the last financial year (i.e. from April 2007 to March 2008). We do not know how much he tithed. He shared with the congregation he gives more than 10% per month. But let's assume he tithed only 10%. In that case, he would have given around $55k to the church from April 2007 to March 2008.

During the period from September 2007 to February 2009, he gave to the church $563k for the building fund (Note: This was also reported in The Straits Times article, but strangely, no one seems to have taken notice of it).

Now, let's assume Pastor Prince received a similar amount of salary and tithed 10% of that amount for the financial year ended March 2009 , he would have received $550k and given $55k for the period from April 2008 to March 2009.

So, based on the assumptions above, over the past two financial years, Pastor Prince would have received a total of $1.1m from NCC, and given $673k back to NCC, giving him a net income from NCC of $427k over two years.

This works out to be around $213.5k per year (or a monthly income of $17.8k). Is this amount still considered too high, or reasonable, or too low? Would this still be "too controversial"? Would it still cause other brothers "to fall into sin"?


WHO HAVE BEEN STUMBLED, TO WHAT EXTENT THEY HAVE BEEN STUMBLED, AND WHAT I THINK WE SHOULD DO FOR THEM

maic123 wrote:
So it is my opinion that the church is incorrect to -
1. Justify his salary using the results Pastor Prince produced.
2. Insisting that he take the salary, as a result causing this controversy. Look at the asiaone forum, I do think it is stumbling some Christians and causing some to be a very poor testimony of what a born again Christian is like.

Lip Kee's comment:
Thanks for sharing your opinion.

I acknowledge that there are quite a lot of people talking about this matter. I also acknowledge that there are Christians who have expressed strong views about the pay Pastor Prince received, and some of the Christians (supporters as well as detractors of NCC) who were involved in the public discussion (e.g. in the AsiaOne forum) had displayed what I believe many of us would consider as immature, irresponsible and un-gentlemanly behavior.

But exactly how many Christians have really been stumbled, and to what extent they have been stumbled, I do not know.

Do you personally know of any Christian who has suffered a crisis of faith, or left church, or abandon God because of the news report? If so, would you care to bring them to my attention or the attention of the church, so that we could help them, counsel them, or pray for them?

Regardless of whether we are able to identify the ones who have been stumbled, my suggestion is that we pray for them, and trust God to strengthen their faith. :)

Shalom.

Note: the original discussion took place in my other blog hosted at multiply.com:
http://lipkee.multiply.com/journal/item/117/Half_a_million_dollar_paid_to_pastor_-_some_discussions?replies_read=9

4 comments:

hungribunni said...

Hi brother,

IMHO what stumbles the Christians is not how much PP gets as a salary, but the way the Christian body quarrels amongst themselves because of it.

In this case it is not that the pay is evil or the money is evil - they are tools as we can see that has been given back to build the church.

What is evil lies in the heart of men who still love money and give it much value thus arguing about it.

Let us remember it is the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money itself.

If money is evil then why would God bless what is arguably the wisest and richest man the Earth has ever known, Solomon, with such riches??? Why would he give material and financial blessings to Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, et al?

It is not money that is evil, it is the way we envy, we dispute and we perceive it.

=) Love your posting.

Shalom!
Geri

eekpil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eekpil said...

Thanks for the comment, Jeri. :)

I don't really understand why some among us, when we see a pastor well provided for, would assume that it is all about a man's love for money, and choose to see man's greed. Such among us murmur and complain among ourselves, feel bitter, and assume that others would be stumbled by the "bad example" of an "evil" pastor.

I am glad that there are many among us who understand that it is all about the Father's desire to bless His own, and choose to see God's faithfulness. We give glory and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, feel thankful, and we trust that many believers are encouraged by the wonderful testimony of a good God.

I thank God that more and more are having their eyes opened to see the glorious and generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they are leaving the first tribe to join the second one. :)

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