By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
GOODLETTSVILLE — During the budgeting process for the new year, members of Union Hill Baptist Church here faced a dilemma.
Because of a slight decline in membership and giving in recent months, the budget and finance committee had to reduce the church’s budget by 8.5 percent.
They had to choose between cutting the salary of their pastor, Mike Mayo, or significantly reducing the missions portion (Cooperative Program and Nashville Baptist Association) of their budget.
Because of their love for their pastor, the budget and finance committee opted for cutting missions giving.
But for Mayo, there really was no dilemma.
“Cutting our Cooperative Program giving was not an option,” Mayo said.
Instead, he voluntarily gave up $6,000 of his salary to replace the money that was eliminated from the missions budget.
Mayo is appreciative that the church cared enough for him to not cut his salary, but he knew eliminating missions giving was not the answer.
A lifelong Southern Baptist, Mayo is a firm believer that the Cooperative Program “is what separates us” from other Baptists and Protestants.
“Certainly our church cannot afford to support one missionary’s salary but through a cooperative effort we can do our part and collectively get the job done,” he noted.
“When I saw the Cooperative Program being cut so drastically I prayed to the Lord for an answer,” he said.
“I knew we could not cut any more from the budget and as pastor I could best absorb the cut to missions.”
Mayo stressed that the church has been very generous to him. In addition, he is retired from the state of Tennessee. “I am financially better off now than I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. “To me it was no sacrifice.”
When he presented his plan at the church’s last business meeting, it was accepted. “The church was grateful for my offer,” he said.
Mayo said one deacon expressed appreciation for him “putting his money where his mouth is.”
The pastor also noted that another deacon later offered to share the cut with him but Mayo declined.
Mayo was hesitant to share his story because he did not want people to “misunderstand his heart” and think he was trying to bring attention to himself or “get in good” with convention leadership.
“The only person I want to get in good with is Jesus Christ,” he affirmed.
Mayo acknowledged that reducing his salary “will cost me money that I could have saved for retirement, but so what. Jesus is worth it.
“It cost God when He gave us His Son. It cost Jesus to be our sin bearer with His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary.”
While Mayo does not expect other pastors to cut their salaries for missions, he does believe pastors need to set an example, even when it comes to giving.
“Those that have gone before us in the last generation were great tithers,” he observed.
“Sadly, many of the new generation gives nothing. So how will they ever be led to give unless you and I set the example?” he asked.
Mayo said that our greatest leader (Jesus Christ) led the charge with those imperative words, “Follow me.”
“I pray that as God’s undershepherd I can lead the charge and stay faithful to my first love and truly make Jesus Lord of my life.”
He is fully aware some people will accuse him of being “radical” and he is comfortable with that.
“Are we afraid to hold anything back for Jesus or do we shy away for fear we might be labeled a fanatic?” he asked. “Well, put me down on the radical fanatic list for Jesus.”
Mayo observed that Southern Baptists need to get as excited for Jesus as the early disciples were, as evidenced by the results of Pentecost.
“Let there be revival and Lord let it begin in me,” he said.