After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth, where he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks (Acts 18:1-4).
Did you know Paul was bi-vocational? He supported his missionary activities by making tents. That’s why, in Christian lingo, we call anyone who supports his ministry by working a secular job a “tentmaker.”
Paul chose to be a tentmaker, but he could have asked for support:
It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us (2 Thess 3:9).
Preachers and teachers should be supported, but many are tentmakers by choice or necessity. That’s especially true in the Free Grace world, where churches, ministries, and budgets are small.
Notice that Paul worked with the husband-and-wife team of Aquila and Priscilla. They were tentmakers, too, both literally and figuratively. Like Paul, they made tents to support their ministry of leading a house church (1 Cor 16:19).
Priscilla’s example reminds me that there aren’t just tentmaking pastors, but also tentmaking wives. They work so their husbands can do ministry full-time. We don’t think of them as tentmakers, but that’s what they are.
Thanks to your giving, I’ve been able to work full-time with Free Grace International, but having my wife Abby work part-time as a nurse has helped! And I’m grateful to her for doing that—for believing in the importance of preaching the grace message. If my efforts merit eternal rewards, I expect Jesus to give Abby credit, too, because we’re in this together. (We call ourselves “Team Shabby”!)
Many Free Grace pastors, teachers, and missionaries—not to mention congregations—have benefited from the hard work of tent-making wives. But maybe they haven’t received the recognition they deserve. We praise pastors who work secular jobs but forget about their wives. We shouldn’t. My guess is that there are many modern-day Priscillas. I’d like to recognize them and say, “Thank you!”
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.