Many Christian institutions provide comparatively low pay and relatively weak benefits but still advertise for positions with the phrase “enjoy working in a Christian atmosphere.” Isn’t this hypocritical?
By Cynthia Holmes
Whether such advertising is hypocritical may depend more on the working conditions and overall budget than how the pay and benefits compare to those in the private sector.
The comparatively low pay and benefits received at many Christian organizations and other nonprofits may result from the lack of generosity of those who allegedly support their mission and who may be hypocrites. To be both ethical and accountable, an organization must live within its budget. So, the better question is, “Are the pay and benefits of all employees just when the organization is viewed as a whole?”
Consider a Christian organization whose board was discussing annual salary raises. Those at the top with six-figure incomes were getting the same percentage raise as employees at the bottom who could barely afford to feed their families. A proposal was made to give a small number of employees at the very bottom of the pay scale an even smaller raise because they were only part time and might leave anyway. That attitude in a Christian institution is both hypocritical and un-Christian.
Shouldn’t a Christian organization give those who are struggling to put food on the table and pay their utility and healthcare bills more wage and benefit consideration than those at top? Depriving a receptionist of the ability to obtain a needed prescription medication for her child is a far different proposition than depriving a highly paid executive an extra restaurant meal that month.
More than pay and benefits is the attitude and atmosphere of the organization. Do those in charge value each person’s contribution, regardless of education and status? Do supervisors treat those over whom they have authority with the same dignity and respect they afford the CEO? Is work going above and beyond the call of duty recognized and rewarded? When the organization’s budget is in the black, do those at the lower pay grades still receive smaller raises, while officers and directors receive higher raises and perks like conferences in exotic places.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently released a poll of teachers who unquestionably are underpaid for the work they do. They valued supportive leadership and adequate equipment above higher salaries. What is hypocritical for Christian leaders is to allow those working under them to do the work of Christ with low benefits and pay while accepting luxurious salaries and perks. When all of the employees in a truly Christian organization struggle to get by with low pay and benefits, they are hyper-Christian and not hypocritical. Then the mirror needs to be turned toward us.