Jump directly to the Content


What you may do and what you should do are two different things.

I recently counseled a pastor of many years' experience. Six months before he came to see me, the husband of a 38-year-old woman from his congregation had died suddenly of a heart attack. The young widow needed grief counseling, so the pastor agreed to see her weekly. The widow (let's call her Carol) found great comfort in the counseling.

One day she brought Don, the pastor, a small gift-an expensive, gold-trimmed pen that had belonged to her husband. "I just want to show my appreciation for all the help you've given me," she told Don. She felt it would have been her husband's wish. Pastor Don was a little surprised, but not wanting to offend Carol (and it was a beautiful pen!), he accepted the gift graciously.

Two weeks later she brought her husband's stereo Walkman and wondered whether Don might not enjoy listening to music when he went jogging. Don protested mildly but again accepted the gift, admitting to himself that the Walkman had been on his list of desirable, but too expensive, ...

Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Why Gordon Is Conflicted
Why Gordon Is Conflicted
from The MacDonald Files
From the Magazine
When Politics Saved 25 Million Lives
When Politics Saved 25 Million Lives
Twenty years ago, Republicans, Democrats, evangelicals, gay activists, and African leaders joined forces to combat AIDS. Will their legacy survive today’s partisanship?
Editor's Pick
Come Ye Pastors, Heavy Laden
Come Ye Pastors, Heavy Laden
Learning to walk under the weight of ministry's many hats.