May 16, 2012

Wrestling with Thoughts about Things that Hinder

by Beverly Kay

One of the congregations in our region recently went into transition. When the pastor came here, his family had to find accommodations because this local church had felt the need to sell their parsonage at one point. Churches without a parsonage are no longer an unusual situation. Actually there was a season when pastors were strongly encouraged to buy their own homes so that they had some equity when they came to retirement. Fine, but this is now one more thing for pastors and their families to consider when in the process of seeking God’s direction for their ministry and life – the sale or rental of their house, carrying a mortgage.

Okay, so maybe that is life in the 21st century. And I will grant that with or without owning one’s home there is always risk and an element of faith in picking up and moving, trusting God to meet all one’s needs in the process. And it is true that pastors are not the Levitical Priesthood who were not to have an inheritance of their own land, but were to receive the LORD God Himself as their inheritance, trusting the provisions for their needs to come from the rest of God’s people. But somehow in trying to make sure that we rightly provide for the retirement years of our pastors and missionaries, I have this feeling that we have been too easily motivated by fears rather than faith. Often choice seem to have been birthed out of old hurts and resentments, rather than out of a life fully surrendered to the good and perfect will of God for our lives.

There seem to be more things that have snuck in to keep a pastor’s family from openly and honestly seeking God’s direction for their ministry and that of their congregation. I have often heard concerns about where children are in their education and an unwillingness to up root them. I have seen some refusing to leave a position yet because of a spouse’s great job with benefits and pension they weren’t willing to let go of. Others have looked to move to a particular region because of a desire to be closer to aging parents. Where is the faith factor; the willingness to forsake all to follow whenever and wherever God leads us, trusting that He will supply all our needs and those of our family? Aren’t we called, as Disciples of Christ to seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, not worrying about the things that the unbeliever chases after? Aren’t we called to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Him? Aren’t we encouraged to throw off everything that hinders (along with those sins that so easily entangle) to run the race set out before us (not the path we have chosen) while we let Christ be our leader, our example of the fully surrendered life?

How can we have healthy, fruitful churches if our spiritual leaders are tied down by earthly bonds? How can we disciple others to follow after Christ if we are following our own goals and dreams, rather than submitting them to the Father’s will? Maybe we need to return to letting the Bible dictate how we lead rather than common business practices of our day. Just some thoughts as I wrestle with where we are at as Pastoral leaders in this post-modern era.


  1. I see your point, and I agree with some and disagree. I do believe that we all, not just pastors, need to be willing to follow God's call no matter where that leads us. I also believe that means following God's call in the every day stuff. Often in the church we think of God's call as Him asking us to move across the province, country, or out of the country. We think in terms of "a big move" - but what I think matters is the willingness to follow God's call in the mundane aspects of life. Will I talk to the homeless man or walk on by? Will I encourage a neighbour to come to my church? Submitting to the Father's will is very often seen as being willing to move whenever and wherever. I've come to believe that the Father's will is more a day-to-day heart willingness than an external event.

  2. I am very happy to see that parsonages are becoming a thing of the past. It's not just better for the pastor to own a house rather than live in parsonages from a financial stand-point, but for MANY other reasons as well.

  3. While I don't think parsonages are a good thing, I also don't think a pastor staying in the same place purely based on the reasoning that he/she is comfortable there is good either. As a teen, a pastor who was at our church for a VERY long time said, "this morning while I was getting ready I was trying to think what to say to you today". Sermons start to suffer when a pastor is staying in a place purely for reasons of being comfortable. I do think the heart is the problem here, not the location. The heart needs to be willing to say "yes" to the Lord's will and not our will daily, and sometimes that results in moving, other times not.