Dear Church Family,
For me, this week is one of personal reflection. October 7, 2012 was the first Sunday in which I preached at Providence Presbyterian Church as pastor. October 9, 1998 was the day Stacie and I were married. Please forgive me as I take this opportunity for a ‘point of personal privilege’ and publicly reflect on these anniversaries with you.
Seeing as these two anniversaries are so close together, it is not lost on me that there are similarities between being a husband and being a pastor. Personally, one of those similarities is with regard to the relative quickness of the process. Stacie and I dated for four months and then were engaged for four months before we were married. We didn’t set any records, yet it was quick by some standards – but we thought, when you know for sure, why wait? In being called as the pastor at PPC, I candidated on July 15th and began preaching on October 7th. If you know anything about the process, less than three months might just be a record.
Of course, there are many ways in which being a husband and being a pastor are different (I don’t think I need to mention the ‘one flesh’ passages of Scripture). But allow me to share with you one of the more general, but primary, ways in which they are very similar: being a husband and being a pastor begin with vows, and from those vows a relationship grows.
Beginning with Vows
The vows which I took at the installation service two years ago were as follows:
1. Are you now willing to take charge of this congregation as their pastor, agreeable to your declaration in accepting its call?
2. Do you conscientiously believe and declare, as far as you know your own heart, that, in taking upon you this charge, you are influenced by a sincere desire to promote the glory of God and the good of the Church?
3. Do you solemnly promise that, by the assistance of the grace of God, you will endeavor faithfully to discharge all the duties of a pastor to this congregation, and will be careful to maintain a deportment in all respects becoming a minister of the Gospel of Christ, agreeable to your ordination engagements?
And, the congregation of PPC made similar vows:
1. Do you, the people of this congregation, continue to profess your readiness to receive Peter Martin Dietsch, whom you have called to be your pastor?
2. Do you promise to receive the word of truth from his mouth with meekness and love, and to submit to him in the due exercise of discipline?
3. Do you promise to encourage him in his labors, and to assist his endeavors for your instruction and spiritual edification?
4. Do you engage to continue to him while he is your pastor that competent worldly maintenance which you have promised, and to furnish him with whatever you may see needful for the honor of religion and for his comfort among you?
As I reread these vows today, I am humbled and count it a privilege to be the pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church. And, as I reflect upon the vows that Stacie and I took many years ago “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part” – I am humbled and count it a privilege to be the husband of Stacie.
A Growing Relationship
For married couples, we reflect upon our wedding vows and hang our framed wedding pictures on the wall as reminders of the day in which we committed ourselves to one another – when everything was novel and new. Yet, one of the things that I try to emphasize in pre-marital counseling is the importance of striving to ‘grow together.’ By ‘growing together’ I don’t only mean growing closer to one another, but also growing as persons (spiritually and emotionally) at the same rate – mutually helping one another to simultaneously grow in the Lord. For this to happen, married couples must be in the Word together, pray together, share their experiences and insights with one another, and be in constant communication with one another.
For a pastor, it is not much different. Lord willing, as the people of the congregation grow in their faith, they share all good things with the one who teaches them (Galatians 6:6). Likewise, the pastor is called to seek to make his progress in his ministry evident to all (1 Timothy 4:15). As one body of Christ, all the members of the church are to seek to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking their assembling together, but encouraging one another as they look forward to the day of Christ’s return (Hebrews 10:23-25).
For my part, I can look back over the last two years and see that I have grown in my faith and in the ministry due to the grace of God given through the people of Providence Presbyterian Church. And, I can look back over the last sixteen years of marriage and see that I have grown in my faith and in my role as a husband and father due to the grace of God given through my wife. For these, and God’s many blessings, I am grateful to you, to my wife, and to the Lord.
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch