Thursday, July 20, 2006

Singleness AND carelessness?

Speaking with a friend who serves his seminary in the placement office, I asked how this year's May graduates fared with placement. Well overall, he reported, with only two not yet placed. "I don't count the handful of guys who didn't ask for help until the beginning of May."

It turns out that these five or six-- all single guys-- were unconcerned about placement until graduation was nearly upon them.

Many of the single people I know/knew in seminary were, shall we say, more care-free than the rest of us. Some that I knew would routinely show up for class with the appearance of those who had rolled out of bed 2 minutes earlier. They did peculiar things with facial hair. One guy I knew wore sweatpants every day-- even Sunday, apparently-- for the whole time he was in seminary.

I'll admit, there is something to being single that brings with it a freedom from many cares I now have as a married parent. I remember discussing this back in the day with a fellow single (at the time) who had just gotten a dog. "One step closer to being a responsible man," he quipped.

Not every single person is irresponsible-- nor do all exercise their freedom to an unhealthy (or unwise) extent. But the "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" quality that embodies many (especially younger) singles' lives can become a major detriment when it comes to placement.

Let's face it: if a significant portion of the church is single, a substantially smaller portion of those who make decisions are single. While there may be huge injustice in this-- I'm confident that, at times, there is-- a smart single guy, emerging from seminary, should realize this and adjust his thinking accordingly.

What does that look like? Probably getting the candidacy process started before his last semester. Presenting himself in a "respectable" way. And taking on more responsibility while he's still in seminary, so that he is ready for the responsibility of ministry when he finishes seminary.

There are many obstacles that face singles already in seeking a ministry position (which I'll try to blog about soon). If you're single and preparing for ministry, don't make it harder on yourself than it will already be by adopting poor practices in your candidacy.

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2 comments:

Saville said...

Good thoughts, Ed. I also know from experience that the difficulty of finding a position is compounded by being single. I am not sure how many churches decided against me because I'm single, but it was definitely a major obstacle. A couple of churches told me that this was the reason, but I suspect that it was an issue for a good many of the churches to which I applied. Being single makes candidating difficult enought. Being sloppy or lazy would make it far more difficult.

Anonymous said...

This comment is probably a day late and a dollar short, but I'd be willing to bet that most of the single guys who have motivation/responsibility problems came straight from undergrad to seminary or, at the very least, have very little experience in the "real world".

I would blame immaturity based on age and lack of life experience as much as marital status.

For the responsible single guys out there, good luck getting jobs, you're going to need it! John Stone once remarked that being an unmarried minister in the PCA is worse than being the devil in many people's minds.

Tom