Rev Solomon Goode's advice
Yesterday, the funeral for the mild-mannered Solomon Goode was held at the Calvary Baptist Church, St James, where I saw him last in May at the funeral for Rev. C. S. Reid. Goode was my predecessor as pastor at Fletcher's Grove Baptist, Hanover, and he willingly shared tips on conducting pastoral ministry.
His first advice was not to borrow money from members. I believe he was encouraging financial integrity. Goode perceived that there were inherent dangers in being indebted to members. It would be better to borrow money from credit unions, banks, or relatives. It is possible that it could destroy relationships in a church should one have difficulty repaying money on time. In addition, there's a saying that he who pays the piper calls the tune. An indebted pastor could be dictated to by a member towards evil ends. Borrowing money from a member could empower the member to feel he or she controls the pastor and then the pastor cannot reprove a member who is his or her creditor. Perhaps if a pastor wants to go against Goode's advice, then the loan should be made public to the congregation. In fact, the day might not be far away when pastors will have to disclose large financial gifts from church members in the interest of transparency, integrity, and wholesome relationships.
The other piece of advice Goode gave was not to fool around young girls because they can get pregnant. This was not a licence to have sexual relationship with older women, who have passed the age of conception, but rather, he was encouraging sexual integrity. This advice in 1985 was when Jamaica Baptist Union did not have female pastors, so it was not a let-off for ladies. Goode was warning against the dangers of sexual infidelity on marriage and ministry. An unwanted pregnancy outside of marriage compounds life and compromises witness in the church. It might lead to a pastor resigning from the clergy and engaging in another vocation, or one could send the girl away to have the baby overseas and pay 'hush money'. It also means that the pastor would not be practicing what he preaches.
According to Denison Forum on Truth and Culture (July 14) a survey done in the United States revealed that 63 per cent of pastors struggle with sexual addictions or desires; 70 per cent struggle chronically with depression; 77 per cent do not have a good marriage; 80 per cent say pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Not surprisingly, 80 per cent of those who enter the ministry leave it within five years, some due to moral failure, burnout, or divisiveness in their churches. Whereas other professions can survive such sexual indiscretions, the church and wider communities are not that forgiving. They expect sexual honesty and genuine repentance when there are sexual indiscretions.
The third piece of advice he gave was that one should not lend one's car to church members. This was relevant at a time when, in rural areas, the pastor would be one of the few persons with cars. Nowadays, more members have cars and have no need to borrow the pastor's car. Perhaps the issue with borrowing a vehicle is the damage that can be done to a relationship if the car is accidentally damaged.
Goode was not only talk. He had an outreach ministering to the people in the inner-city areas in Kingston. He invited me to accompany him one night as he would preach at the open-air service. I followed him. He was well-known and respected in the area. That night, he introduced me to a young man, who he knew had a gun with him, but he only told me about this after the young man had left. Goode was fearless and faithful. No doubt, the people of the inner cities respected him because of the good advice he gave them as well.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.