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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Changed by minimum wage

Compassion for poor demands advocacy

Almost a year ago I found myself working part time for minimum wage. It has been an eye-opening, spirit-churning and humbling experience. The last time I worked in a minimum wage, no benefits position was during my seminary years when I expected to be getting by on bare minimum.

During the first month I went home with my feet aching from walking for hours on end. Even now, nine months later, I may still go home with my back and hands hurting from the work that I do. And, with all of that, my two-week paycheck can't cover rent or a utility bill. A month's wages don't cover health insurance.

As the months have passed, we have been abundantly blessed with the generosity of others. As much as we have been helped by these offerings, it isn't a sustainable way of life. Not for me or my family or for my co-workers and the countless others who labor in the service industry.

I am a bit unsettled as I think about the future and what life will look like when I return to full-time ministry. I don't want to feel guilty for having a comfortable life. Nor do I want to apologize for expecting and receiving a professional compensation and benefit package.


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July issue

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Economic inequality

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