Friday, January 08, 2010

Number One or Number Two?

I've been reading Don Carson's journey through the 'Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson' this week. I'm not finished, and there will be a more fuller book review when I'm done. But one thing has struck me as I've read the moving and insightful book on Don's father Tom. It's something that I have to work through and come to realise more fully as the time of my Curacy will some day come to an end.

Tom's journals are the source for much of the book, his private meditations and reflections on his ministry are opened up to bring encouragement to other little-known 'ordinary' pastors who are plugging away preaching the gospel in their little corner. There are many discouragements noted, as Tom failed to see much visible fruit from his work, particularly in Drummondville, Canada.

After some time of being discouraged, Tom resigns his pastoral charge and works as a translator for the government. At the same time, he assists in a small church in Hull, providing some preaching and pastoral work as the back-up to the senior pastor. Following his retirement from the Civil Service he continues to work as the assistant, being directed by the senior pastor on who to visit, when to preach and so on. The organisation and overall responsibility has been removed, and he's free to do the people work and the word work which he loves so dearly:

'The brute fact is that Tom functioned better as a number-two pastor than the senior man.' (p. 116)

Which raised a question for me. At present I'm a number-two pastor, the Curate Assistant. I'm not thinking about leaving Dundonald (we're loving it here), but there will come a day when we're moving on. Am I cut out to be a number-one, or do I function better as a number-two?

I don't have any answers at present - it's something to think through - but in the Church of Ireland, the pressure appears to be geared towards lone ranger rectors doing it all. Am I ready for the change from a brilliant staff ministry team to be on my tod? Thankfully we don't need the answer right this minute. Several years will do...

1 comment :

  1. Haven't a clue about this follower and friend melarkey so bear with me!! Number one son's been educating me.

    This post would be such a help to a Civil Servant Lay Reader who's been struggling with "what now?" Ta. MrsMcF