Editors Note – I received this small snippet from a friend – The volume (Walther’s Pastoral Theology) it belongs to is coming out in early 2017 and will be quite a gift to the whole English speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church. Thank you Concordia Publishing House for bringing the whole of this volume into English! Walther is a true father in the faith to us. Click here to see the “Walther’s Works” that CPH already has out.
Advice from Dr. C.F.W. Walther
When Considering a Call
In answering the question of whether a preacher should allow himself to be relocated or accept another position offered to him, it depends particularly on observing the following five rules:
- Let the preacher wait quietly for a call away to be issued to him and never himself seek to get away, least of all to obtain a higher salary or a more comfortable or an easier position (Jer. 23:21).
- Let him not yield for the sake of the evil people in his congregation who make his life bitter (Rom. 12:21), unless it has to do solely with his frail person, and [unless] what is simply impossible for him on account of the poor personal relationship into which he has fallen with the greater part of his congregational members can therefore be accomplished by another orthodox preacher (2 Cor. 13:10).
- It must be clear for all to see that the new ministry offered to him is not only a more important one in itself but also that precisely he could use his gifts in it for greater benefit to the Church than if he were to remain (1 Cor. 12:7).
- Let him not decide easily on his own, but relinquish the decision to both his present congregation and the one calling him away, as well as to some experienced theologians (Prov. 12:15).
- Let him not leave his congregation without its express consent, unless the latter absolutely withholds its consent manifestly before everyone out of pure stubbornness and in disregard for the well-being of the Church.
Commentary on Rule 3
(I) It is of course actually and certainly known to God alone in which place the preacher will create greater benefits, but it does not nearly follow from this that a preacher, in comparing his current and new call, should not rationally consider the circumstances of both calls and take into account where he will hopefully create the greater benefits for the Church, for otherwise he would have no other information [regarding] which call he should prefer.
“The oft-mentioned theological opinion speaks much better about this: ‘A called preacher should not proceed blindly and want to accept every single call with blind impetuosity for the sake of more pay, greater honor, and hoped-for peace with the objection: “God would simply have it this way”; rather, he should diligently compare his current call with the new one sent to him, not looking at the income and honor and external conveniences, but at the duties of the call [officiis vocationis], that is, at the services of his call. He should see well which congregation needs him the most and in which place he can create the greater benefits for our God.
“ ‘If he concludes that the edification and expansion of the kingdom of God can be furthered more in the new call than in the previous one, then he should follow it and make sure that he does not bury his pound, which is entrusted to him by God, for the sake of good days and income.’
“(II) Precisely from the ordered, regular call, one can get a good measure [regarding] in which place one can probably serve God the most.
“The above-mentioned opinion, which was approved by the Tübingen theologians, speaks about this again: ‘If God the Lord conveys a gift to some before others, then He desires that not just one place alone should use them, but rather that others should also enjoy them fruitfully, and after He notes that one [person] can create more benefit in this place, another in another place, then He arranges his call (nota) and sends him, especially when He notices in His omniscience that now, after much practice, he may not be unuseful in accomplishing something higher.’ ”
American Lutheran Pastoral Theology by Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther; Professor of Theology at Concordia Seminary and Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation at the Same Place and President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. From the new English translation published by Concordia Publishing House, 2017.