Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Challenges of Being Single and in Ministry

In a recent conversation with a single pastor he shared how he had met his ex-wife at an online Christian dating service. They were later divorced. He eventually left his church and is now a single military chaplain. He had been a single pastor before meeting his wife and now had returned to being a single minister once again. What desires and temptations led him down that path and what could have been done to prevent it?

            A recent online discussion included the following comment. “I've been in a church with a single pastor, not part of a staff. This pastor really didn't have a sounding board or absolute confidant. With the demands of the pastorate being 24/7, this individual had no person with which to share the burdens of his job. After 7 years, this pastor resigned from the position and is no longer clergy.” How could a pastor in this situation have flourished instead of resigned?[1]
In Carolyn Crawford’s article “Ministry From a Single Perspective: Assets and Liabilities” she talks of challenges with loneliness, overwork, dating, lack of intimate relationships, and moving to a new city on her own without the benefit of family moving with her.”[2] Will these challenges turn her towards Christ or draw her away towards temptation?
Another single pastor whom I know had been dating a woman in the church he pastored. She broke off the relationship. It left him so devastated that the church gave him a sabbatical so he could get counseling and be able to minister to the congregation as before.  It was not to be. He still has not recovered. He now is without a pastoral job. What was happening in his heart and his desires in the midst of his struggles? What does Christ offer to help in the midst of his need?
As single ministers there are characteristics of ministry and characteristics of singleness that when combined, produce greater areas of challenge and vulnerability. If these areas are not handled well they can lead to catastrophic results. 
As a single minister what are your toughest challenges? In what type of situations do you find yourself most tempted? Sign up to receive by email the latest blogs as we discuss challenges of singleness and ministry.

[1] BP, May 1, 2011, comment on Kimberly Davis, "Finding A Place For Single Pastors," (blog), Think Christian, accessed December 27, 2011, http:/​/​​index.php/​2011/​04/​08/​finding-a-place-for-single-pastors/​/​.
[2] Carolyn Crawford, "Ministry From a Single Perspective: Assets and Liabilities," The Journal of Pastoral Care 42, no. 2 (Summer 1988).

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