William Thornton, over at SBC Plodder says:

Still waiting: Surely there is some astute SBCer who will stop blaming us for asking about pay levels long enough to make a good argument as to why such pay should be hidden from the folks who pay the bills.

I don’t believe that I qualify to answer his inherent request, but I will do my best.  To say I don’t qualify is to admit to a few things:  I’m not a very good SBCer.  Some would call me a moderate SBCer, or hardly an SBCer at all.  I think a good argument could be made that I’m not very astute.  I won’t argue with you there.  Also, I agree with his basic premise.  I’m not really against him at all.  I also believe that Transparency is the best policy.

However…and this is a real However….

I can understand why people wouldn’t want their salary posted for God and everybody to see.  I believe that a person’s compensation is extremely personal.  It is something that should remain very private.  Especially in a culture that equates $$$ with worthiness/wisdom/intelligence/whatever, I can understand why someone wouldn’t desire their compensation published for everyone to see.

Something else I think about is the potential weapon it gives people who come against you.  Granted, I’m one of those pastors that has his compensation posted at each monthly church business meeting.  I’m very aware that any given month my compensation could be eviscerated by a handful of people who may be upset with me for any given reason.  Since our business meetings are open to the public, anyone could get their hands upon my compensation by just showing up.  To say that one can feel vulnerable is an understatement.

Now, realizing that compensation increases with responsibility, I can only assume that leaders of really large organizations would be paid a lot.  I can also assume that those with greater compensation would feel equally vulnerable.  I don’t wish that upon anyone, even my greatest enemy.

That they would be in the six figures range is no surprise to me, and I can’t say that I’m against it.  I’m sure that someone would say that their compensation isn’t fair, it isn’t just.  Well, you may be correct in that.  To be honest, I don’t see a whole lot that is fair in Scripture.  If anything, it is due to the unfairness of the world that God injects Grace and Mercy into our lives.  Take for instance the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30.

Jesus is using a parable to describe what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.  A rich man goes on a journey and leaves money in the hands of his servants.  Each servant has a different amount.  I believe each is given according to his ability as understood by his master.  The first couple invest their sums and doubles their amount.  The last buries his sum in a field (I’m thinking a modern day savings account), and gives the original sum back to his master upon his return.  Long story short, the guys that double their money are rewarded, while the guy just saves his money is harshly punished.  Not only is he punished, but his sum is given to the first servant who had the largest amount to begin with!

Hardly fair!

So, why am I not making the big bucks like some other guys my age?

Because God knows it would ruin me.  God knows that I have to be faithful with what he’s given me before he entrusts me with more.  God knows what I can handle, and it has nothing to do with fairness.

There are some guys out there, even my own age, that are making much more in compensation.  God has given them as he sees fit.  I can complain all I want.  I can demand my rights as a Cooperating Southern Baptist to know every detail of every agency head’s compensation.  But, in the end it won’t help me.  It won’t make the dysfunctional executive boards any better.  It won’t hasten our national economic recovery.  If anything, it will give me an unhealthy sense of power over these individuals.

I do believe that everyone on the agency’s respective executive boards should know the minutia of the compensation packages.  Whether or not the agency is a failure has little to do with CEO compensation.  I think it has everything to do with the hearts of those that choose the CEO.  If NAMB has been the dysfunctional child of the SBC for all these many years, the cure isn’t in compensation transparency.  The cure is either fresh new executive boards, or at least God taking them out at the knees.

Then again, God could be allowing his passive judgment to settle upon these agencies.  That is a scary thought.