Pastor Steven Furtick of the popular Elevation Church in North Carolina says Jesus wouldn't want him to reveal how much money he earns or donates.
Speaking with WCCB-TV's anchor Morgan Fogarty in his first media interview in eight years, Furtick, 35, who's received criticism for not disclosing his salary and owning a $1.7 million mansion, says revealing his personal finances would rob him of God's blessings.
"There is a lot of interest in the church's finances. Your finances and your lifestyle. Do you ever think, I'm going to release these records to shut everyone up?" asked Fogarty in the interview.
"Oh, no. I would never make a decision about the church's finances based on the agenda of a reporter," replied Furtick.
"What about your finances or personal lifestyle?" Fogarty asked.
"I know that we have to have integrity and we have to be generous, and I know the extent of which that is true for me and Holly (his wife)," said Furtick.
"So, to go on record and say here's how much money we've given and here's what we do with our finances, to me, that would be the most arrogant thing I could do and it would rob me of the blessings of what Jesus said, which is that when you give, you don't get up and tell everyone how much you've given," he continued. "So when you give one part of a picture, whether that's how much one of the staff members, what they make, that's between them and God. That's not mine to release and the same with my family. I wouldn't do that to my wife and my kids. I wouldn't do that to one of our staff members."
The Christian Post reached out to Elevation Church Thursday to see if they would reveal Furtick's salary. A church official, who asked not to be identified, said it was not church policy to reveal the salaries of individual members. The official directed CP to the church's most recent annual report showing that in 2014 the church spent $9 million on personnel after taking in $33.5 million in offerings. It also gave nearly $3.8 million to outreach and reported $13.9 million in cash assets.
Furtick said his mission is to bring people closer to Christ and explained that since he started his church in 2006 more than 10,000 people have been baptized. Even those baptisms, however, have not come without controversy as critics claimed that many of those baptized were emotionally manipulated into doing so.
Despite his success and popularity on the big stage, Furtick says his focus is on his family and life away from the spotlight.
His wife, Holly, whom he calls his "Chief Encouragement Officer," his amen corner and the truest person he knows, has helped him to stay grounded and not see his popularity as fame.
"We don't think of it as fame. See, I like to say, if you can go 100 miles to another town and nobody bothers you if you put on a baseball cap, that's not famous. That might be church famous or preacher famous or town famous. But that's not real fame. I've been with really famous people who can't fly 19 hours without cameras in their face on the other side of the world, so we don't think of it that way," said Furtick.
"I know a lot of people who use the stage as a substitute for real life. And they're never happy unless they're in front of people. And I never wanted that to be my life. I never wanted to be a better ... let me say it this way: I never wanted to be better at preaching than I am at living, and that is a goal of mine. I'd like my kids to one day, and hopefully they can, say he was a better dad than he was a preacher. To me, that would be success," he added.
YOU CAN VIEW ELEVATION CHURCH'S ANNUAL REPORT BELOW: