My pastor in college shared some advice from Dr. Robert Preus, back when Jeff was his summer vicar: "When you get your first call after your placement, you are going to look at the money. You can't avoid sinning."
Jeff has received two calls since becoming a pastor, and neither one would have been financial gains. When we moved to our current congregation, with cost of living factored in, it was very break even, and with state income tax and some other factors, it actually turned out to be a pay cut that was not unfelt. The call that he has received recently was pretty much the same, so at least with that out of the way, other things can be considered. And just to note, it is NOT a sin to make sure you can take care of your family.
Dr. Preus had it right, though...only he was too narrow. When a pastor's family has a call before them, it can really cause them to covet -- a church that has a heart for missions or confessional theology, a bigger or smaller town, the opportunity to own a house away from the church or getting to live nearby in a parsonage, a school -- or no school, maybe its near a seminary or near the beach, etc. It stirs up a desire to want what we don't have.
A friend of mine once commented that when there is a call before a Pastor's family, it almost feels like adultery....or at least flirting with it. I'd have to say she was very right. There's a lot of comparing the glamorous "other woman" with the one who is comfortable and familiar. Contemplating a call is a very uncomfortable process. And like flirting and temptation, it can be a very pleasurable one.
Not that all of this is entirely sinful. It's not. In going through the call process, we've met some wonderful people; learned a little more about ourselves and our current congregation, about what's involved in moving to a new country and a different church body, and about God's provision at all times. And while things were dang good in our marriage, I think it also has strengthened it even more.
On Sunday, my husband announced that he is returning the call to Messiah Lutheran Church in Waterloo, Ontario. Please pray for them that during this process, they learn more about themselves as well, and that God guides them to a faithful and loving shepherd.