The Door-Step Evangel

Preachers Preparing to Age
Dr. Ronald L. Tottingham

Do preachers prepare to grow old? I'm not talking about financially (the world and normal aging fears should take care of that), but I'm primarily talking of another preparation, that of changing duties due to frailties of age, diminishing strength, slowing reflexes, grandparent-itis, etc. Now this preacher has not walked fully that way yet so his thoughts are observation, reflection and counsel received only.

Can a pastor become the "old man" and remain in the church after a long pastorate? Especially if his pastoral style was strong? The truth is if he does it will not be without some mental, "psyche", and philosophy preparation. In himself, the next pastor, and the church adjustments would most assuredly have to be accepted, not only of the church but of the "old man" himself and his wife. It would not matter what he were called, Pastor Emeritus, Co-pastor, or other title. He would still need to become assistant to the "true" pastor in practice, in mind, in "psyche," and in philosophy.

Now most say this is not possible! To this I ask, is anything impossible within those fully yielded to and worked within of God? I'd wonder more if lack of yielding, or distrust, or fearfulness would be more the case. God could make it so the "old man" pastor of a long time ministry, even one of strength, could remain in the same church unto death.

If the "old man" pastor was prepared to become assistant as any other assistant. I'm wondering if our egos can't have trouble willingly helping another to become "top dog?" Maybe we'd be too interested in the "new man" doing all exactly as we did to believe in him in the "new" (some new style goals, methods, etc.) man. I believe one reaps what he sows. If we don't sow liberty and believe in others even in weaknesses and mistakes, what will we harvest when we grow old to ourselves?

Now this would involve a trust factor from the "new man" also. Younger preachers tend to want freedom to stretch their own wings, try several things on a pass or fail basis without criticism. I suppose that is how we all became what and where we are - even if we don't like to admit it. How many letterhead styles did we try until one "became us?" How many times did we _______! Yes, but now the "old men" want things stable and cannot trust the younger to the future - even their future. Perhaps suicide is an alternative to growing old in the ministry. I don't think so really.

Could the "new man" make the "old man" feel trust? Is the "new" man to be trusted? Can the "old" trust the "new" in basic needs care? In physical deterioration care? In frailty acceptance? To be loved still?

By the grace of God age could be a time of rich blessing. A wise "old pastor" can become the history teller to the children, our next generation, the church sitter/keeper to the church. In his "old age retirement" when he must go into the home of his family then he could babysit, be their storyteller, do certain types of house care, etc. Oh, what a blessing children should get out of sitting by the bedside of an aged preacher or Mrs. preacher in their last days instead of watching immoral and occult television. However, this would take some preparation of all in order to be the blessing. Just a thought.

The Door-Step Evangel is published in the interests of Evangelism and information as a Church paper, sincerely devoted to the cause of Jesus Christ. We are in favor of everything that is right and opposed to everything that is wrong.

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