his generation does not know Dr. Ross Price, a well-respected Nazarene college church pastor, district superintendent, author, college professor, and evangelist. I was pastor to Dr. Ross for seven years. He was always ready to share a positive testimony, and each ended with the words, “I plan to live till I die.”
I have always thought, What a great goal. Some do not do live that way.
Financial bondage and lack of retirement preparation contribute to real life ending long before death. Two years ago, Nazarene Research conducted a survey that confirmed that a significant percentage of Nazarene ministers live under extremely stressful financial circumstances. Over 30% of our pastors and associate pastors have considered leaving the ministry because of financial stress. That is no way to live.
The COMPASS Initiative is a program made possible by a $1M grant by the Lilly Endowment “Initiative to Address the Economic Challenges Faced by Pastoral Leaders.” The initiative goal is to connect ministers to resources that will give excellent financial management leadership, help them avoid financial bondage, and enable them to model biblical financial principles. All of the resources are located at www.compassinitiative.org. The COMPASS Academy section has resources available to all ministers and local churches. The COMPASS Journey is a matching grant program for which a large percentage of our USA Nazarene pastors and associate pastors qualify to receive matching grants of up to $5,000.
This spring, we launched the COMPASS Quest. This is a six-month, online program with matching grants up to $1,000. We want to help our ministers find freedom from financial bondage, prepare adequately for retirement, and be able to financially “live till they die.”
So, what can we do to reach this place?
Prepare and live on a budget that is more income than expenses. You can find resources on our COMPASS Academy section to help you prepare a personal budget.
Get out of debt. You will find resources on the COMPASS Academy to guide you in this as well.
Learn to live simply by biblical stewardship principles. No one can completely define this for you but steps 1 and 2 are a good start.
Build a “rainy day” savings account. Try to put $1,000 in savings during steps 1 and 2, and then build the account to at least 3 percent of your annual income.
Have a Nazarene 403b Fidelity Account. All USA Nazarene pastors and full time associate pastors are eligible. Go to www.pbusa.org for instructions.
Make regular contributions and maximize your 403b account. USA Nazarene ministers receive a contribution each year from P&B if their church has paid at least 50% of the P&B allocation. Additional contributions are available.
Have an estate plan (will) and a living will.
Financial bondage is no way to live. Living under constant financial stress will eventually take a heavy toll in your life and ministry. As one who has passed the retirement threshold, I will tell you that coming to retirement years unprepared will not feel like “abundant living.” I am grateful to those who have invested in my life by instructing me in financial responsibility.
The ministers in the more than 30 denominations and judicatories participating in the Lilly “Initiative to Address the Economic Challenges Faced by Pastoral Leaders,” have two things in common: financial stress from debt and lack of readiness for retirement, and a hesitancy to be open about financial challenges. So, if that is where you are, please do not feel alone. Most ministers would be surprised at how many people in their church would care if they knew the pastor’s financial struggles.
I pray that you will find freedom from financial bondage and truly “live till you die.”