An encouragement for single pastors (and their congregations)
This came to me from a dear friend who faithfully serves without a helper (yet) suitable for him. I post it here to help those who are single and those whom they serve. – Pastor Scheer
The first preacher, the first head of a household, the first man to catechize his children in the truth of God and His promise had a helper suitable for him. Today, God continues to raise up men to fill the preaching office in His Church and a good number of them have a helper that is suitable to him, much like the first preacher Adam had in the beginning.
There are also a good number of faithful Pastor’s that do not have a helper suitable to him. They are a lone shepherd watching over the flock of God’s sheep, and at times it can seem that there is nobody to hold up the prophet’s hands as God’s people battle against the devil, the world, and the sinful flesh. But single Pastor’s, just as married Pastors, are called to peach, teach, admonish, catechize, pray, baptize, administer the Lord’s Supper, hear confession and pronounce absolution, and proclaim the resurrection at the death of a Christian.
While it is of great importance for a congregation to take care of their Pastor and his family, a congregation should not lose sight of their Pastor if he is without a suitable helper. Isolation and loneliness can overtake a single Pastor. Dependent on this is the single Pastor’s own attitude and efforts, but it is far too easy for a single Pastor to spend an entire day without speaking to another person.
And while many loving members of the congregations do invite their single Pastor for meals and holiday’s, it’s impossible for that Pastor to not be Pastor in that place and time. During holiday’s, if he isn’t near family, those same joyful and wonderful holidays are spent alone. Christmas Eve/Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and others, after the Divine Service is concluded and the lights at the church are turned off and the doors closed, the parsonage can be a quiet and lonely place. Herman Sasse called the pastorate “The Lonely Way.” It is perhaps no more lonely than for the single Pastor who does not have a helper suitable for him.
And while we make jokes and talk about setting up the single Pastor with a Christian woman, it is still something to watch and care for their single Pastor who is watching out for them. Married or single, the Pastor stands on the walls of Zion keeping watch over God’s holy people. If that faithful Pastor has a suitable helper given to Him by God it is a blessing and one the congregation does well to support and pray for their Pastor and his wife. And while the single Pastor doesn’t have a helper suitable for him, he non-the-less stands and watches as a lone shepherd over the flock.
I am very thankful to those brother’s in my circuit that so often open their home to me for holidays and at various other times during the year. While I do have two congregations that take very good care of me, and there are members of the congregations that invite me to spend holidays with them and their family, it’s impossible to take off the role of Pastor. So I very much appreciate the time when I’m invited to a brother Pastor’s home to spend time with his family. In fact, there are two brothers here in which I feel as though I were a part of their family. I may not have the blessing of a wife and children myself but it is truly a blessing to have these brothers and their families.
While I believe it is of utmost importance to take care of a Pastor and his wife and children, I’d give a shout out to the bachelor Pastor too. While the challenges facing a single Pastor are fewer on his schedule the biggest problem is perhaps loneliness and isolation. I deal with this on a regular basis. Thankfully, because of brothers in Christ and their families, it’s easily and quickly alleviated.
I thank God for those guys and their wives for opening their home to me. We support each other too. As Red Green says, “Keep your stick on the ice, we’re all in this together.”
I think the reference to other circuit pastors is very important here. One of the problems in our Synod is a lack of fraternity among clergy. When we are all competitors, no wonder we don’t get along. Laity – encourage your pastor to get involved in their circuit. I think the quote from Red Green just about hits it on the head.
If you have some good ideas for supporting a pastor who is single, please submit them in comment form.
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